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Christian Friendship Inspirational

I caused a missionary family an enormous amount of grief because they stopped to help me on the way home. They were on their way to the airport and didn't make their flight.

The thermostat of my car stopped working and the engine overheated. I managed to get to the shoulder on kinetic energy after it quit; I was driving a car with a manual transmission, fortunately.

My boss stopped to see if I needed help. I gave him my home phone number and asked him to call my wife to let her know. That was nice of him but didn't help me.

Where I stopped was at the main junction between I-405 and I-90 a short way from Factoria, Washington, part of south Bellevue. I sat on the side of the road, waiting for the state patrol to stop to investigate. They never came.

An hour and a half later, it was getting dark and cold. Without an engine, I couldn't turn on the heat. The day had been sunny, so I left my usual warm coat at home and only wore a sweater.

Then, mercifully, a car pulled up behind me. A man got out to see if I was ok. He opened my hood and found the problem right away.

To begin with, I am not a mechanic. I am a professional writer and I can tell you in words what the technical aspect of the trouble was but don't ask me to diagnose it or fix it.

He knew right away that I needed a new thermostat. He dug around his car to find a wrench the right size to undo it from the cooling hoses. Since his car was jammed with belongings, finding it took a while.

He explained why he had three kids and his wife in a car loaded with baggage and light furniture was that they were on their way to the airport. They were missionaries going to Ethiopia to assist with building and running a hospital in Harar in the eastern part of the country, a city of about 90,000 people.

They had non-refundable one-way tickets to Amsterdam, connecting to a flight to Nairobi, Kenya, and then a short flight to Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, with a bus to Harar. Any break in that chain would abort their whole trip.

It took him 20 minutes to find his tools, piling many of his belongings on the shoulder. Then he got the thermostat out in about 10 minutes. That was the amount of time the family had allocated to getting to the airport.

That was back when there was no TSA and boarding was easier. But they had to get their stuff piled on the cargo conveyor, so they'd planned a little ahead.

Unfortunately, there were no auto parts stores near us. We both knew Factoria Mall had one, so he drove me there. It was nearly 8:30, and the store was closed. The next nearest store was in Bellevue, a good 20 minutes away since we had to navigate through city streets.

Fortunately, the parts store was open and they had the correct model of thermostat. I bought it and he drove me back to my car. He spent about 20 minutes getting it to work and tightening the brackets.

In the meantime, his flight left SeaTac, leaving the family behind. We reloaded his car. I promised I would follow them to see what I could do to repay their generosity.

I always carry $50 hidden in my wallet as insurance. If I'm ever held at gunpoint, I figure the $50 will buy my life back from the mugger. It's not really a threat but as an ex-boy scout, I want to be prepared.

We got to the airport and the ticket attendant was immensely helpful. She could book a later flight to Amsterdam and then a later flight to Nairobi. They already had to spend the night in Kenya's capital, so that end was taken care of.

However, their tickets were non-refundable, and therefore the cost couldn't be transferred to the newer flights. They were out of cash.

I got my $50 safety money out of my wallet and offered it to them. Another Christian family nearby offered them $200, which combined to pay the cost of the flight to Nairobi.

Then we heard a ruckus. A man at another airline's ticket desk was furious. Something was wrong with his ticket and he could not get a refund. His flight hadn't left yet but for some reason, his direct connection had been severed.

He was screaming mad that he couldn't get another flight out of … wait for it … Amsterdam. He kept pounding his fist on the ticket laying on the counter.

Finally, he calmed down, apologized to the ticket agent, and walked away with his brow furrowed in dismay.

I ran over and asked how much he would sell the ticket for. He looked at us. Then he asked what we needed the ticket for.

Then, unbelievably, he said "Here, take the ticket. I can't use it." What a blessing he was to give it to the family. Silently, I thanked God.

The children were at an age when their ticket prices were nominal and the family could afford them. Our benefactor, the man, smiled and without hesitation, paid for the wife's ticket. Again, the Lord's mercy and blessing were amazing.

Armed with all they needed, they checked their belongings and dashed to the loading gate. I thanked the man and the other family, saying how much I appreciate their generosity and blessing. I told them the story of my thermostat and how the family had sacrificed the start of their mission to minister to me on the side of the road.

I went back to my car. I sat there without turning it on; sat for about 20 minutes with my head bowed in prayer. I thanked God for his blessing and mercy. I asked him to watch over the family and make their mission successful. I also thanked God for letting them rescue me when I needed it most.

Most of all, I thanked him for giving that missionary family the faith to understand they would be taken care of no matter how much they sacrificed for me. I realized, in their minds, it was the thought that counted – and the action they took to fulfill it.

April 07, 2023 17:47

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1 comment

David Sweet
22:50 Apr 15, 2023

Awesome story of God's Goodness! My oldest sister and her family were missionaries in South America for more than 20 years, so I know often what it takes to see God's miracles at work. This sounds exactly like something my brother-in-law would do. Faith is amazing. Thanks for sharing your story.


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