En route to the airport on Friday, October 23rd, Facebook friends alerted me to a hurricane landing on the Western coast of Mexico. I scrolled through reports stating that hurricane Patricia was the “strongest hurricane ever recorded.” I slid my iPhone into airplane mode, as we taxied out of the airport, and recalled a previous mission in which a storm brought about a miraculous opportunity
It was the Spring of 2010, and I was booked to fly with a small team of friends on a mission to Israel. Our flight plan was to depart from Houston to London’s Heathrow airport and then on to Tel Aviv, Israel. On the morning of our departure, we met and prayed. A volcano named Eyjafjallajokul erupted in Iceland and spewed ash, covering most of Northern Europe in the process. The problem for us came when we heard that all flights throughout Europe had been grounded. After praying, I called the airport to check on the status of our flight. With our team standing nearby, the response came from the airline employee, “Do not come to Houston. All flights have been grounded.” We took a moment and listened for the Holy Spirit’s direction. He calmly said to us, “go to Houston.” The team agreed without hesitation, and we pushed forward.
We arrived in Houston at the international terminal to find hundreds of not-so-happy travelers jammed in the terminal lounge, eagerly awaiting any news of an available flight. I approached the woman at the counter and asked if our flight had been canceled to Tel Aviv. She said, “Babe, look around. Every flight over Europe is canceled.” I sheepishly asked her if she could check our flight just for our assurance. She politely moved to her monitor and checked. With a look of uncertainty, she came back to us and said, “Well, your flight hasn’t been canceled. It has only been delayed. It will be the first flight into Heathrow tomorrow morning. It has been delayed for a few hours.” We rejoiced and then began to think about what we could to do while we waited.
I called my good friend Alwyn Furtado, who lived in Houston, to see if we could grab dinner with him and his wife. He joyfully welcomed the invite. After the meal, we all went over to their house. I drove with Alwyn and felt impressed by the Holy Spirit to ask him when he and Sonia were going to have kids. Alwyn smiled with a hesitant look and replied that they were trying to have kids. I let it pass, seeing that this wasn’t a good topic to discuss. Holy Spirit, however, wouldn’t let it go. When we arrived at their house, we gathered into the living room. Alwyn, excited about a new song he had recently learned, pulled out his guitar. We worshipped and sang and prayed. As Alwyn was singing, I had a quick picture flash in my thoughts. I saw a little child running around the room in which we were seated. Holy Spirit prompted me to bring up the topic again.
Sonia tearfully told us that the doctors had given them little hope on having children. Seated there with my friends Phil, Shane, and Carl, Holy Spirit made His desire for the Furtado’s known. We laid our hands on Alwyn and Sonia and prayed for their healing. They both wiped tears from their eyes as the Holy Spirit did His healing work.
Morning came, and the Furtado’s generously fed us and escorted us to the airport. We boarded our flight and headed straight toward the dark clouds of volcanic ash. About thirty minutes prior to our expected descent into Heathrow airport, the pilot announced to us that we didn’t have clearance to land in London. He further reported that the flight was being re-routed to Nice, France. We landed and were brought to a luxurious hotel and told that the food and accommodations were free and that we should be prepared to leave the following morning. We had a full day to enjoy the incredible set up the Holy Spirit made for us. After a quick shower and change of clothes, I walked out to the beach and soaked in the scene. “Jesus you’re so good to us,” I thought.
After a great night of rest, we boarded our flight and landed in Tel Aviv, Israel. We saw hundreds touched by the healing power of Jesus during that mission. Furthermore, it was the start of a few priceless relationships with Jewish and Arabic churches.
A year later, my story concludes. Jenilee and I were at a Casting Crowns concert in the Montagne Center. We arrived a little early and walked around to talk with friends. After we found our seat, I spotted my good friend Alwyn Furtado coming toward me. He and Sonia had come to the concert and, to my surprise, Alwyn was holding a baby girl, Amelia Furtado, in his hands. I had no idea that they had gotten pregnant or had a baby. Holy Spirit fulfilled His promise to them.
Thinking back to that mission, I am reminded of this powerful truth. In every storm, we have an opportunity to entertain fear and discouragement. It is in the storm, however, that we can cultivate courage. In truth, it is only in the storm that the seeds of courage grow. Joining hands with the Holy Spirit will spend the door to see His wonders in the middle of chaos. The greater the storm, the greater the miracle. (Romans 5:20)