Prayer during an airport crisis

Watching a man perched dangerously atop a terminal, a traveler turns to God for help.

In March of this year, I was traveling through the airport in Shanghai, China. My traveling companion and I had checked our bags and received our boarding passes when we found a crowd milling about, blocking our way to the gate. A look up revealed that a man had climbed up to the top of the terminal about three or four stories above the main floor. His intentions were unknown, but when I saw so many people in the crowd casually taking pictures and videos with their phones, it revolted me, and my initial reaction was to get as far away as possible.

It looked as though the emigration desk at the other end of the terminal was open, and I indicated to my friend that I wanted to leave. But my traveling companion pointed out that if the man was making a political statement or claimed to be a security risk, we would be stuck on the plane-side of the terminal if the authorities decided to close the airport. If we made it to the gate, we could find ourselves delayed for quite some time. I had to admit my friend was probably right.

It also occurred to me that my presence there at that time had to be for healing. I was not there to witness a horrific act, but to prayerfully support a resolution. For more than ten years I had lived in Asia and had traveled extensively around the region. When confronted with claims of cultural differences, disagreements, or misunderstandings, I had always found great comfort in a statement by Mary Baker Eddy in Science and Health: “One infinite God, good, unifies men and nations; constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars; fulfils the Scripture, ‘Love thy neighbor as thyself;’ annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry,—whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political, and religious codes; equalizes the sexes; annuls the curse on man, and leaves nothing that can sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed” (p. 340).

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