“Sister, how do I eat or find food on the plane since it will be more than 2 days’ travel?” our Indian brother asked one morning during our Skype call as we planned for his trip to Liberia in West Africa.
We had already discussed many things. But I hadn’t thought about that. Up until this time we had focused on other matters.
The risks of travel to Liberia
First, Ebola. Liberia had been declared clear of Ebola by WHO just months before, but new cases had recently erupted in Monrovia. We prayed for complete healing over the country and outlined the risks to our Indian brother.
We could not guarantee physical safety for him.
Second, malaria, parasitic diseases and the necessary yellow fever vaccine. Pastor Martin had to find a way to get medicine before his travel. CIC did not have funds to pay for these preventative measures.
Travel over rough terrain. It’s hard to prepare someone fully for the travel needed overland from Monrovia to the northwest corner of Liberia. He was going to a resistant place, resistant to the Gospel – challenging both spiritually and physically with no guarantees from man.
His safety and security rested only in our Lord and Savior and His heavenly protection.
Regardless of the risks, somehow the Holy Spirit gave our brother from India courage and perseverance no matter how many of the realities we transparently shared.
But now, months ahead, one more major hurdle. Traveling through many countries to reach his final destination.
All the sudden I realized that we were bringing a village pastor from India to Liberia, to have a hands-on practical experience of how CIC ministers – with vision-casting Local Pastors Mobilizations and CIC Volunteer Club Leader Trainings to reach unreached children with the Gospel and His Word – all through a crazy series of planes, with many hours of layover. And he had no prior experience traveling in this way!
I had to empty my mind of the international travel I had had. And see things with fresh, new eyes.
Since we weren’t sending him funds (see “Hard, Hard Ground” – Part 1) he wouldn’t have food to purchase on his flights.
Memories of my husband’s and my first travel through the mainland of China back in the early ’90’s when travel by foreigners was restricted, helped me put myself in his place. I remembered how it was all new and strange for me back then.
I remembered clambering onto that big long inter-connected rickety piece of steel called a train, along with swarms of local village folks. They traveled with few possessions but with many paper sacks of peanuts and prawns in hand. Three days taking the local train from Guangzhou to Beijing in those upright seats, as they termed it, wafted back into my memory! After three loooong days with chickens squawking and prawn shells strewn all over the grimy floor, and peanut shells and dust littered everywhere, we made it safely to our destination.
It was a vivid, jarring, pungent memory that came back in full sensory HD. I nudged the flashback back to the recesses of my mind, and came back to the pressing need to have some wisdom for this Indian brother. All I could suggest to Pastor Martin was that he do what they had done – pack meals of nuts, dates, chapatis and non-perishables – enough for 3 days before leaving for the airport. But I warned him he would not be allowed to take liquids through security.
That was another thing!
I hadn’t even thought to prep him on all the complexities of security in international flights. I tried to explain what he would experience, what he would be asked to do, and how he must not carry anything of value in his suitcase.
All the sudden I realized how daunting this must be to our brother.
He was going to fly from Hyderabad to Dubai, then Dubai to Casablanca, then Casablanca to Monrovia, with a total of roughly 11 hours of flying time and 21 hours of layover in foreign airports, with 12 hours in the Casablanca airport alone.
And then, meeting our team in Monrovia, he would join them to travel 8 hours overland across the variegated countryside of Liberia, unpassable via motorbike or car in many places, to reach the outreach initiative amongst an unreached people group.