Ticket-less in Tanzania…
“Well?” I glanced up, “Any word on the ticket?”
My daughter Sierra shrugged and shook her head as she flopped down onto the cracked plastic chair beside me.
“I think they’re still working on it – I don’t know”
“Geez,” I glanced down at my watch, “We’re supposed to take off in like 45 minutes…”
We had just finished our first week-long overseas festival – a week-long event in rural Tanzania, Africa – along with our young family and our entire band. We had shared the love and message of Jesus with more than 10,000 people in a radically different culture, and thousands had responded. It had been an amazing experience and now we were less than an hour from boarding a plane for home.
Unfortunately, there was a good chance we would be leaving without one of our band members…
We had arrived at Kilamanjaro Regional Airport several hours earlier thinking we were within sight of the metaphorical finish line, but we had quickly discovered that we were facing a serious ticketing mix-up: our bass player’s ticket had been issued for the wrong day, and there were no remaining seats available for our flight out.
Within our own country, this might have been a minor annoyance, but in an African city eight time-zones from home, it was quickly becoming a bit of a crisis. Our local contact had already dropped us at the airport and begun the three-hour drive back to his village. Even if one of us had a cell-phone that worked in Tanzania, (which no one did) nobody knew our driver’s number, and even if someone would’ve been able to contact him, there was a good chance he wouldn’t have been able to return until the morning, as it wasn’t very practical or safe to drive long distances at night in some parts of the country.
The way I saw it, I had two options, and both of them seemed pretty bad:
One – I could stay in Kilamanjaro with my bass player, try to book two tickets out for the next day, and either sleep on the dirty floor of the airport or try use our nonexistent Swahili to book a taxi and hopefully a local hotel, leaving my family to fly back to the US without me.
Two – I could leave my friend in Africa and let HIM figure it out. (To be fair, he had always been one of the most resourceful people I know, and probably would’ve figured it out, had a great time, and made several friends in the process.) The major problem with this scenario was that I knew I would have to call his father when I landed in Chicago and explain why I had left his only son behind in a third-world country.
So, option number two was definitely out…
And option number one wasn’t looking great either.
“Dangit…” I shook my head again and glanced down at my watch, which seemed to be moving extra-fast at the moment, “we really need to figure this out…”
“Um…” my daughter shifted in her chair beside me, “hey dad…”
I turned to face her.
“Remember how we’ve seen God do crazy things and He promises to answer when we agree on something that’s in line with His heart?”
“Yeah, totally… of course.”
“Well I just really believe that if we ask Him to get Derek on the plane, He’s going to answer.”
I stared at her for a moment, and then sighed and smiled, recognizing her sincerity even in the midst of my own stress and lack of faith.
“You know what? You’re right. I totally agree with you – why don’t you pray for us?”
And so she did. We sat with our heads together in the clamor and chaos of the foreign airport, thousands of miles from home, and she asked God for a miracle.
And literally minutes later she got one.
I glanced over and noticed my wife on the other side of the rickety-looking metal detector that separated the ticketing and gate areas which we had already navigated several times – she flashed a thumbs-up and a quick, tired-looking smile, and I exhaled deeply.
The whole team would be going home tonight – together.
A short time later, while safely huddled on the airplane preparing for take-off and the first of several long flights, I was suddenly struck with an incredible sense of peace and the deep realization that I was doing what I was created by God to do – that in the midst of the turmoil and chaos and intensity, I was exactly where I should be.
Jesus gave His life for our freedom and forgiveness, and we believe that He has called us to share this message with the people of world, because He desperately loves them.
And this is why we do what we do.
That night, I realized that by His grace we were doing it, and six years later, we’re still doing our best to answer His call.
James 5:16b says “The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” and if we’ve received Jesus, His sacrifice has made us righteous, and our prayers – YOUR prayers – are powerful.
So we invite you to pray with us for God’s kingdom to come “on earth as it is in heaven,” – for grace and victory in our own lives and for millions of people all over the world to experience true freedom and new life in Jesus.
Since 2012, by the grace of God, we’ve shared the love of Jesus in 28 nations and seen tens of thousands of people respond. Since April of 2017, we’ve had the privilege of watching thousands respond to Jesus in twelve nations and territories on five continents – we’ve just finished up a packed few months of events in Israel, the West Bank, France, Belize and across the American South and Midwest. Currently we are in Portland recording our next CD project, after which we’re scheduled to share the love of Jesus with the people of Pakistan, and then in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Kenya, Thailand, and across the USA.
THANK YOU for helping us share the love of Jesus worldwide. Our vision is to follow God’s leading and help reach as many nations and people as we can with the message of Jesus, and your partnership helps us reach the world together. If you’d like to help, click HERE to partner financially and follow us on FACEBOOK for daily prayer updates from the field.
Zach and White Ribbon Day