Thailand

“Mee arai hai chuay mai ka?” (Is there anything I can help you with?) I asked the Thai man and woman standing near me as I waited for my flight in the Orlando International Airport. They looked surprised that I had understood their conversation and then proceeded to share their predicament.

“My brother is flying to Thailand alone” the woman told me, “and I’m concerned about him finding the terminal and gate for his connecting flight in Los Angeles because he doesn’t understand English.”

“I’m going to Thailand too!” I told her. “When we get to LAX,* I’ll help him find his gate.”

Relief flooded their faces. “Thank you! Thank you!” she said as we sat down to await the boarding announcement. “His name is Wanchai.”†

There was an announcement soon, but it wasn’t one that I wanted to hear. Our departure would be delayed due to mechanical problems, and by the time we arrived in Los Angeles, I’d have only one hour to catch my connecting flight. Please, Lord, I prayed. Help me to get to my gate on time.

When we finally disembarked at LAX, I felt a strong impression from the Holy Spirit: “Take care of My sheep, and I will take care of You.”

Lord, I prayed, I am taking care of Wanchai. But it wasn’t until I realized that Wanchai and I had to go to different terminals that I understood the impact of God’s command.

Lord, this doesn’t seem reasonable, I argued. Wanchai has a seven-hour layover. I’ll have him come with me to my terminal first and find out whether I can still catch my flight. If so, I’ll have someone escort him to his terminal and . . . The Lord abruptly interrupted. “Take care of him first, Melissa! Take care of My sheep, and I will take care of you.” I obeyed my heavenly Father.

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Wanchai and I walked to his terminal and learned his boarding gate number. Then we walked to mine. But I was too late! I would have to wait until the next morning to fly.

For a few moments I felt cold panic. Then I breathed deeply and prayed, Lord, You promised to take care of me. I’m all yours. Please show me Your plan and help me to follow it.

I smiled at Wanchai and asked whether he was hungry. “Yes!” he replied. “I was hoping to eat at one of the cafes here. Would you like to join me?”

For the next three hours I had the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with Wanchai. What a great joy it was to see the sparkle in his eyes as heard the gospel!

As I left the hotel the next morning I prayed, Father, since I didn’t get a wink of sleep on my last flight, would you please grant me a window seat so I can lean my head against the wall and an empty seat beside me so that I can stretch out for the 11 hour flight?  

At the airport I discovered the flight was packed and that I wasn’t even guaranteed a seat. As I waited at my gate, I reflected regretfully on my morning prayer. Father, if it would glorify You more for me to stay another day in order to share the gospel with someone, then let me remain, I prayed. But if it would glorify You more that I go, then please give me a seat on today’s flight.

God did grant me a seat that day. But not just any seat. I had a window seat in the first-class section that folded out into a bed!

As I reclined in my comfy accommodations, I meditated on Jesus’ earthly mission. I thought about how He didn’t live to please Himself but to do the will of His Father; how He denied Himself to put others first even though it cost Him dearly.

I thought again of His admonition: Take care of them first. Thank you, Jesus, for taking care of us first and for the special lesson You taught me with Wanchai. May I put your sheep first for the rest of my life.

* Los Angeles International Airport

† Name has been changed.

Melissa Miranda
Originally from Toronto, Canada, Melissa Miranda has served as a volunteer missionary in several Asian countries, including Thailand, where she taught Bible and English as a second language at Ubon Ratchathani Seventh-day Adventist Language School. She is currently attending La Sierra University in Riverside, California, and plans to become a missionary dentist.