The man next to me turned in his seat and loudly spoke to his wife across the aisle and back a row, “Do you have a book?” he asked her, and then added, “If someone sits next to me, they should talk to me.” He reached across the aisle and tucked the Stephen King book in the pocket on the back of the seat in front of him.
Inwardly, I sighed. I had picked out my window seat about five minutes earlier. This gentleman had only just seated himself next to me and I had been looking at a magazine. The man in the aisle seat was occupied with something, too.
I am almost compulsive about how I spend my time. I had reading material and stationery and tracts in my bag, ready for a seven-hour flight. I was planning to strike up a conversation, but I guess I offended him by not conversing with him immediately. I closed my magazine and introduced myself.
Ted was returning home to Paradise, California. That’s a great way to lead into the Gospel, I thought, but I did not say anything yet. We talked for an hour about various things when he asked why I was traveling to Phoenix. The plane was full because many of the passengers were going to the Super Bowl, but I was going to meet my husband in Phoenix in order to visit some donors. I explained a bit about Campus Crusade for Christ.
“I don’t talk about religion,” Ted stated when I tried to witness to him. “I am satisfied with my relationship with God.”
I tried gently to show him a verse and give him a tract. He refused and then asked me again to not talk about spiritual things.
The rest of the flight we had a bit of conversation, but Ted turned his attention to chatting with the other passenger. I was reluctant to turn my full attention to a book I had with me, so I kept myself available to chat a little more with him if possible.
Ted is an avid reader, so a short while later, I recommended a book to him, The Last Jihad by Joel C. Rosenberg. He had heard of it. This book is the first in a series which combines Biblical prophecies and current events. As the reader goes further into the series, the author presents the Gospel.
I could have felt frustrated that I did not get anything done that I had brought on the plane or that Ted did not want to hear the Gospel and lost interest in talking after he found out I was a missionary. Also, in hindsight, I could have offered to give his wife my seat (although that might have been a bit messy with how crowded the plane was), so I could then have an opportunity to try to witness with someone on the other side of the plane.
I decided this morning, though, that God is sovereign. He wanted me there to be like Christ even if I could not say much as a Christian. He wanted me to suggest a novel for Ted to read as the only little bit of witness I could do. I was where I needed to be, doing what I needed to do with the person God placed next to me.