„Then coming to the borders of Mysia, they headed north for the province of Bithynia, but again the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go there.„ Acts 16:17
In a previous post, I wrote that, practically from the moment that I had learned that there was a 24/7 house of prayer in Germany, I had wanted to go there . Really wanted to go there. I found myself asking „where has this place been all my life?“ That’s how much I wanted to go there, to live out a life of intercession and worship in a country whose language and culture had fascinated me so much that I had devoted my professional life to studying both. The first meeting of the Wittenberg 2017 meeting, held in Ottmaring, near Augsburg, in 2012, had given me a good first impression of the Gebetshaus and intensified my desire to be part of it.
That was the problem. I needed and wanted to be certain that the motivation to go to Augsburg came from the Lord and not from me. There was an overabundance of enthusiasm for German, the language, and the German-speaking lands of central Europe in my person, and it would be easy to mistake those impulses of my own soul for the will of God, and I wanted to be certain that I was acting on the latter, not the former. Among the factors tempering my impulses and encouraging me in patience was a dream that I had sometime in the first quarter of 2013.
The dream began in our kitchen, where I was sitting at the table with my laptop in front of me, typing away on some text (probably a contract) when suddenly, I say „Time to go to Germany!“, shut the laptop, and stood up. I put my things in my backpack, stepped out the front door and BANG! I was in Augsburg, right in front of the Gebetshaus. I walked in …
…and no one knew who I was. No one had any idea why I was there. After a few fragmentary and embarrassing dream conversations, I left the building again, aiming to walk downtown where I hoped to find a hotel. As I walked along the pedestrian trail following the Wertach river through town, a small, elderly woman, laden with a backpack that was larger than she was, came walking toward me, in the middle of the river, going in the opposite direction. In spite of the almost comically large burden she was carrying on her back, she was moving with speed and determination. When she was close enough, I recognized her as Hannah Miley, an acquaintance of ours through the ministry of Austin House of Prayer. Now in the interpretation of dream semiotics, the burden a person bears-luggage, a yoke, what have you- is symbolic of the person’s past, and Hannah’s past has been one of tragedy and joy and long, faithful discipleship to Jesus. She had this huge Rucksack, and I had a much smaller backpack, containing, as far as my dream was concerned, just my laptop and some office supply oddments. She appeared to know where she was going, and I…did not. Not yet, in that dream. That dream was all the warning I needed to wait for a clear direction from God before departing to Augsburg.
And once that came? There were practical considerations to deal with. Like selling our house, booking flights, and arranging for accommodations in Augsburg once we got there. I looked on the ads for apartments on the website of the Augsburger Allgemeine and came up empty repeatedly, so as a supplemental strategy I emailed contacts in the Gebetshaus Augsburg asking for assistance in finding a place to live in the greater Augsburg area. It was an e-mail from Johannes Hartl that introduced us to Stefan Karrer who did offer us a place to stay. For two weeks while we looked for something more permanent. That would have to do. We were ready to embark on our European adventure.
For we wanted to come to you—certainly I, Paul, did, again and again—but Satan blocked our way- 1 Thessalonians 2:18
Ever had that experience where the Adversary was trying his damnedest to stop you from doing something? Something really significant, like…moving your family to another continent?
With a suddenness that should not have seemed sudden, the middle of June 2015 arrived, and we were standing in line at the security counter in Austin-Bergstrom Airport, waiting for the desk agent to check us in so we could proceed through the actual security screening. When the desk agent took our e-tickets, though, she fixed me with a disapproving gaze.
“You have no return trip listed,” she said.
“No, we don’t because we don’t know when we will be coming back. We’re missionaries.”
“Then I can’t let you fly. You have to have a continuing destination.”
“What? Since when?”, I probably said this louder and more vehemently than called for. Susan put her hand on my arm and Felicia looked up at me, keying into the alarm in my voice.
“Since a few months after 9-11,” the agent answered. “Unless you have a continuing flight or a return booked, I can’t let you board.”
“Oh, you can’t…”, I began. Susan squeezed my arm. “Well, then, we’ll just book our flight to Rome. We have a meeting in Rome in October.”
That was true. We were going to attend the next meeting of Wittenberg 2017 to be held at Casa del Maestro in Rome in October, and we had not yet booked a flight there. So, while Susan and Felicia prayed and played Monument Valley, I got on my laptop and booked us a flight from Munich to Rome in October. And had our e-tickets sent to my smartphone so I could show them to the desk agent. All this took fewer than 15 minutes. Ain’t life in the internet age grand?
Then, having propitiated the wrath of the Gate Agent Demigoddess, we got in line for the security check. And…the security agent pulled me aside.
“Sir, we’ve detected traces of explosives on your backpack.”
“What are you talking about? What traces?”
“Ions. This test picks up ions from substances that are only used in making explosives.”
I must have fixed the security agent with a completely baffled expression because he shrugged and said, “False positives are rare but possible. But I have to examine all the contents of your pack now. It’s procedure.”
So, we stood there for a half an hour while the security agent meticulously removed my laptop, power supply, pens, books, earbuds, box of Altoids, and everything else, even battered, crumpled old receipts from the Star Café in Round Rock, from the backpack and did the ion test on them. Finally, with a sheepish mien, he returned all my stuff.
“Sorry for the delay Mr. Martin. There’s nothing here. I just wasted your time.”
“Thanks for saying that,” I said, and closed my backpack, casting a relieved and encouraging glance toward Susan and Felicia.
You might be thinking at this point, “And things got better when you got past the gate, right?”
Wrong. When we got past the gate, we discovered that our flight from Austin to New York was delayed by 25 minutes. That should have been no problem. I always buy tickets that give us longer lay-overs, if possible. Generally, this practice means cheaper flights, which is one point in its favor, but the other is that it gives us a time buffer in the event of delays. Our time buffer on that day was about 90 minutes. Which was now 55 …then 45…then 30…then we were finally boarding. We still barely made it to New York in time and had to run through the halls of La Guardia to ge to the Malaysian Air flight that was taking us to Frankfurt. We only relaxed at last when we were sitting down.
Coming soon: Arrivals I
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