It was a day at Brussels Airport that I’ll never forget
By Jerry Wiles, North America Regional Director, International Orality Network, President Emeritus, Living Water International, Special to ASSIST News Service
BRUSSELS, BELGIUIM (ANS – March 8, 2017) — Tuesday, March 22, 2016, in Brussels, Belgium was a memorable day for several thousand travelers. The terrorist bombing at the airport and other locations in the city that day captured the attention of millions around the world. In addition to the death and destruction, many travelers’ plans were delayed and rearranged. Two co-workers and I had just landed a couple of hours before the bombing, en route from Liberia to the States.
After clearing security, which was very tight that day and now we know why, grabbing a coffee and getting ready for our next flight, the bombing took place. The chaos and confusion was beyond imagination. We could sense the panic and fear in the voices of those making the public announcements. Then we heard comments about seeing dead bodies in the terminal, so we knew this was a pretty serious situation.
Over the years, I have often told people that God shows up in the most difficult and darkest times. The Brussels terrorist bombing was an opportunity to experience that reality. One of the stories that we use in our Orality Training is about “Jesus Calming the Storm,” from Mark Chapter 4. That is a great story to tell or discuss in times of great difficulty or crisis situations. When discussing that story, we can relate to the question that the disciples asked Jesus, “Master, don’t you care that we are about to drown or die?” Many people today are asking or thinking, “Does God care about me, or my situation?” Of course, He cares, and He has the ability to do something about our problems, difficulties or crisis situations.
Another important question we can ask about that story is, “Can Jesus still bring calmness during our storms of life?” The answer is “Yes,” and we saw that during the chaos and confusion that day. After being evacuated from the airport terminal to a hanger with several hundred other travelers, we had the opportunity to tell and discuss that story in a place where a dozen or so people overheard the story. It set the stage of several conversations over the next few hours.
Amazing things can happen when we ask questions and listen to people. When we learn a few stories about Jesus, we can be equipped to share important spiritual lessons in almost any conversation and any circumstance. For example, we might ask someone, “Would you like to hear a story that will help you better to deal with the problems, difficulties and pressures in life?” Then tell or talk about how Jesus cares for us and can intervene in our most difficult experiences. Or, we might ask, “Would you like to hear a story that can help you have a more personal and intimate relationship with God?” You’ll find that the majority of people will be prepared to listen.
One can use almost any story about Jesus to open up conversations about what it means to have a relationship with the Living God, and to become a reproducing follower of Jesus. When we tell stories from the Word of God, we can expect that the Holy Spirit will use them with those who hear them. From Jesus’ parable of the sower, we know that the seed represents the Word of God. When we sow the seed of His Word, we can trust that sometimes it will fall on fertile soil and receptive hearts, and will produce 30, 60 or 100 time what is sown.
Our time in Brussels, and for the next few days after the bombing, were interesting and intense. The whole city was on high alert, and conversations took place that would not have happened during normal activities. After renting a car, driving to Amsterdam and catching a flight home, the Lord opened up several other conversations with airport shop keepers, flight attendants, and other passengers. I’m often reminded of the words of the Apostle Peter, to always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us. While many people panic and become anxious in time of crisis, followers of Jesus can demonstrate the fruit of the Spirit and be salt and light to those around them. When we abide in Christ, and trust Him in times like that, we can fully expect that He will show Himself strong on our behalf.
As I have reflected upon the Brussels experience, the prayers that took place from the around the world, and the seeds sown in the hearts of many, I can’t help but think that many travelers and others had transformational experiences. Only eternity will reveal the redemptive work that took place during those days. One big lesson for me from that experience is the importance of keeping our eyes on Jesus at all times, walking in the Spirit and being available to the Lord. One of my mentors years ago used to say, “God in not so interested in our ability, as He is our availability.”
For a couple of years now, you may have read articles in the series entitled “Connecting for Change,” or earlier series “Orality: Changing the Face of Missions around the World,” “The Transforming Power of Water and the Word,” or “Stories of the Thirsty.” If you have read many of those articles, you may have noticed that most of them have included stories and examples of Orality Training, or concepts, principles and practices of Orality. Because of the significance of the Orality Movement, and the fact that many are saying that it is one of the most strategic and high impact breakthroughs and transformational trends in the church/mission world, we will be launching a new series titled “Orality Nexus.” So keep an eye out for more to come. Many people will wonder, “What does Orality Nexus mean?” The answer is, read the articles and join the learning journey. We have an amazing global network of learning and practice that you will find quite interesting.
It could be that the Orality Movement is radically changing, even revolutionizing the way the Christian world thinks about communicating the gospel and making disciples, that is international, cross-cultural and reproducible.
For more information on the Orality Movement and the International Orality Network, visit www.orality.net. To learn more about Living Water International’s Orality Training, visit www.water.cc/orality.
Photo captions: 1) Chaos inside the Brussel airport following the terror attack. 2) The ceiling of the departure lounge at Brussels Airport has caved in (Photo: @wardmarkey/Twitter). 3) Injured people outside of Brussels Airport desperate to get away (Photo: @davidcrunelle/PA) 4) People being evacuated from Brussels Airport following an explosion (Photo: @twongbe/Twitter). 5) Jerry Wiles gives the thumbs up after surviving the bombing at Brussels Airport.
About the writer: Jerry Wiles is North America Regional Director, for the International Orality Network, and President Emeritus, Living Water International. He can he contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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