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Fruit from a Failed Flight

Peter is a Missions Ministry leader at Cornerstone Community Church in Ohio, and back in the fall of 2014, he was excited to lead a team to Indonesia to help one of the church’s mission partners. He and his team boarded the plane full of expectations, but when Pete reached his layover in Tokyo, Japan, his trip suddenly ended.

Peter wasn’t aware of the Indonesian government’s regulation that prohibited anyone entering the country with a passport that was within six months of expiration.

Peter’s passport was denied. He had to leave his team and travel all the way back to Columbus, OH, full of disappointment about his failed journey. He had put months of work into the trip, and he wished he could have seen the fruit of his labor.

God had a different plan for Pete.

Another opportunity arose to visit the same mission partners in Indonesia in February of 2015. Because Peter’s previous trip had been cut short, he was prepared to make this one work. His passport was renewed, and Peter brushed up on Indonesian law, just to be sure nothing would deter him! He got on the plane, ready for the 13-hour flight to Tokyo and determined to make the most of his time.

Next to Peter on the plane was a Japanese man. Peter was ready to engage with him, but the man put earbuds in as soon as the flight took off and left them in for the next five hours. When he finally took them out, Peter was quick to start up a conversation. The man’s name was Tats. He was a surgeon from Japan who had just received a temporary job in Indianapolis. Tats was on his way to pick up his family and move them to the States.

Peter turned the conversation to spiritual things, and Tats told him that he was brought up in a Buddhist family. They started discussing the gospel, and Tats was intrigued. Peter gave him the Gospel of John, and Tats immediately started reading the first chapter. He asked question after question, and by the end of the flight, he put the booklet in his shirt pocket, saying, “So it will be close to my heart.” Pete felt incredibly blessed by the whole exchange.

After Peter’s time in Indonesia, he returned to the States with Tats on his mind. He made contact with Tats in Indianapolis and even visited him a few times, furthering their relationship. Tats always had more questions about the Gospel. He was intrigued by the good news, though he held back from fully embracing it.

After their year in the U.S., Tats and his family moved back to Tokyo. Peter tried to stay in contact with them, but it was hard to maintain the relationship so far away. Eventually, they both stopped corresponding.

Then, this past September, Peter’s church sent off new Encompass Global Workers Matt and Jen Daniels to live and serve in Osaka, Japan. Peter reached out to Tats to see if he could connect him to the Daniels. He knew it was a long shot because Tats lived in Tokyo, far away from Osaka, but to his surprise, he received a quick response. Tats did not live in Tokyo anymore. The hospital he worked for had sent him to live in Kobe, just 30 minutes from the Daniels.

Tats was eager to connect with the Daniels. Peter gave him their information, and Tats contacted them. He told Matt and Jen to call him if they needed help in any way with their transition to life in Japan. Peter is excited to see where the relationship goes, and he asks anyone who is willing to keep Tats and the Daniels in their prayers.

As Peter reflects on this whole experience, he’s awestruck at the sovereign handiwork of God. If it weren’t for that missed flight to Indonesia, he would never have met Tats, and this new connection between Tats and the Daniels would never have begun.

Peter’s story is a reminder that with God, nothing is an accident. When it seems like everything is going wrong, God is putting us where He wants us. Even in our disappointment, how many opportunities would we see if we had our eyes open to look?