Monday, July 09, 2007

"A Divine Encounter" by Susan Smith

My dear friend, Susan Smith, often sent me email updates when she was living in Israel. Her newsletters are stories about "Life in Israel." This email, however, was the story of her Divine encounter while traveling back to the U.S. It is quite an awesome and fascinating story. With Susan's gracious permission, I share it with all of you!


Life in Israel (update) 06July07

by Susan Smith

Hello from South Carolina. It is a great joy for this writer to be back in the United States for as long as the Lord keeps me here. What a privilege to be in a country where I can speak the Name of Jesus and ask another person in public if they are a Christian without fear of losing my job. This freedom was not realized on my short visits back to my home country over the past five years. It is a blessing to be born in the United States and to be a citizen of this land on earth between the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans. God has made this country great. The one God of Israel, the creator of the universe, the Lord God Almighty has poured out his blessings on the United States of America and that is why this nation is viewed as the greatest country on earth at this hour.

My trip back was very comfortable. The midnight flight from Tel Aviv to Newark, New Jersey was uneventful until the last two hours. It was quiet on the plane and many passengers, including this writer, enjoyed restful naps during the overseas flight with very little turbulence. During and after breakfast my seatmate and I began to talk. He told me he was a Muslim. This man who lives in upstate South Carolina in the Greenville/Spartanburg area had a very interesting story he shared. He owns a company called Alliance Garbage and we laughed together when he told me he was a “garbage” man. Learning about landfills and how they are lined according to federal regulations was interesting to hear.

Even more interesting was the fact that this man has a pilot’s license and enjoys flying. He told me he graduated from the same pilot’s school in Florida as the 911 terrorist pilots. Wow! So there I sat next to a Muslim man who shared he attended the same school as the 911 terrorists. What a divine encounter! He said when 911 happened he was living in Charlotte, North Carolina. Three days after 911, FBI agents came knocking on his door. They questioned him intensely. He stood up during the interrogation and walked to his bedroom. One of the agents followed him. He retrieved all of his US Army medals he had received during his six years in the US Army including a tour in Bosnia. He explained to the agents that he was born in this country and loves the United States. The agents left and my seatmate appeared to have taken no offense as he told the story.

He shared that his mother lives in Jericho and his sister lives in Ramallah, Israel. He had been on a short visit to Israel to see his family. His sister runs a daycare center in Ramallah for about thirty children. One child in her care died some time ago of what was believed to be sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) when young babies die in their cribs without apparent cause. She was charged with murder and my friend on the plane went to Ramallah to attend his sister’s trial and to give her support.

Our flight left Tel Aviv at midnight and this writer arrived at the Ben Gurion airport about nine o’clock that last Saturday night in May. My friend on the plane said he arrived at five o’clock and barely made the flight. He told me he was questioned and interrogated for hours by Israeli security personnel. He said this was the first time he had ever been strip-searched. It seems when the metal detector was placed by the front of his blue jeans, the zipper caused the instrument to sound an alarm. He was required to undress for a guard to assure he was not carrying anything illegal. This man’s father was Arab and his mother is an Apache Indian. His mother is from the Four Corners area of the United States. The Four Corners is the only place in the United States where four states come together at one place. His mother was born in Arizona. The other states are New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.

My Muslim friend was very enjoyable company during the last two hours of the flight. Before leaving Jerusalem, this writer learned she would have an eleven hour layover in Newark. Continental Airlines no longer had the morning flight available on Sunday morning from Newark to Columbia, South Carolina. The long layover was of the Lord. His ways are above our ways and His thoughts are above ours (see ISA 55:9). All the days of my life and of yours were written in His book before one of them came to be (see PSA 139:16). My friend told me he also had a long layover before his flight to Greenville.

This man handed me my carryon luggage from the overhead bin as we prepared to depart the plane in Newark. I was thankful for the help and wondered if we would have a chance to talk anymore. We said good bye when I stopped at the restroom on the way to passport control and customs. The passenger lines were long and my Muslim friend was nowhere to be seen as the lines moved slowly. After getting through customs I wondered what the Lord had in store during my long wait. Walking toward my departure gate this writer was glad she brought a book to read. The waiting area was small downstairs for the commuter jet to Columbia. This writer went back upstairs on the escalator and purchased a drink before finding a seat. The airport seemed quiet at five o’clock in the morning.

While reading, I looked up and saw a man approaching my seat by the wall. It was the “garbage” man. He sat down and we began to talk. Our talk lasted for a good eight hours as we talked about Islam, Christianity and Jesus the Messiah. He told me he met his wife during an Army tour to Germany. She is from Poland and they have a ten year old boy and a younger girl. He watched my carryon bag when I needed to use the restroom and I did the same for him. The relationship was good and this writer is always thankful to meet another traveler whom God directs her to trust.

The garbage man took a walk and purchased candy for his children in the airport. I asked him if he had gotten a gift for his wife in Jericho or Ramallah. He said “no” so I offered him a partially used tube of Ahava hand lotion from Israel. As he thanked me, the Lord simply told me in my spirit that it was time to share my personal testimony. As I shared about my life as a drunkard, having a child out of wedlock and living in the sinful lifestyle of homosexuality, my friend was very attentive. I told him Jesus Christ has changed my life and I gave him the one CD of my testimony that happened to be in my carryon luggage. Now it was no accident that this writer just happened to place one testimony CD in her carryon bag as she was packing to leave Israel.

The Lord knew before this writer was born that she would meet this Muslim man and talk with him for eight hours in the Newark airport. God brought my life out of a prison of sin that I might confess, praise and give thanks to His name (see PSA 142:7, AMP) in a casual conversation with this man who said he was a Muslim. The Lord knows the heart of every person reading these words and His desire is for you to be delivered from the power of sin. The Creator of the universe wants you and me to increasingly perceive, recognize, discern and know precisely and correctly the Truth (see 1TI 2:4, AMP). Jesus the Messiah is alive. He is the Truth. He was raised from the dead by the power of God (see COL 2:12) and He is our savior and deliverer from any kind or class, type or variety of sin. He loves you.

We worship an amazing God. Are you free to confess the name of Jesus where you live? If you publicly confess with your mouth your belief that Jesus is Lord, and if you believe with all your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. It is the heart’s faith which brings you into a right relationship with God, and it is the open assertion of that faith with the mouth which brings you to salvation (see ROM 10:9-10, Barclay). Do you believe? ~ Susan Smith


Christinewjc said...

Thank you, Susan, for allowing me to share this wonderful story on my blog. I'm sure that the hundred or so amount of people (according to the counters!) who have visited and read it since it was posted, have been blessed by your words!

Love in the Lord,

Anna said...

Hi Susan,

Wow - great story! Thanks.