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Plane truth: We’re never too young to share Gospel

A mission on the way to a mission field

I was 3,000 miles from Mexico — and 30,000 feet in the air — when the mission trip started.

My youth group and I were flying from Juneau, Alaska, to Seattle, the first stop on our journey to serve souls in need south of the borders (Canada and the U.S., that is).

I sat in the aisle seat of a Boeing 737, and a middle-aged woman sat by the window. 

Inside Story | Katie Jones
Behind us was a mother with her infant child — who was determined to tell the entire plane that no one should be awake this early. 

The woman at the window turned and told the mother to quiet her child. I felt awkward and pleaded with God to make me invisible. Instead, he spoke to my heart.

“Open your backpack, and take out your Bible. You don’t even need to do anything with it, just hold it.” 

I obeyed, pretending to read and waiting for something to happen. 

Immediately the woman at the window looked at me, then at my Bible. She leaned toward me and started to speak, quietly. It had been a long morning, she said, and the crying baby wasn’t helping. Could I show her some verses on patience? 

Of course I said yes.

As I looked down at my Bible, I prayed, “God, I’m not a preacher. I don’t have a master’s in theology. I’m not a know-the-Bible-inside-out kind of person — and I sure can’t think of any verses on patience right now. 

“What am I supposed to do?”

I thumbed through the concordance and, thankfully, found a few Scriptures focused on patience and peace of heart. I jotted them down, stuck the list in the Bible and passed it to her. 

While she read, I wrote her a note of encouragement and gave it to her before we landed.

In the Seattle airport, she handed me a note, hugged me and said goodbye. 

As she disappeared into the crowd of passengers rushing to make their connections, I unfolded the piece of paper.

I used to be a Christian, a long time ago. I would pray for my son every night, but one night I forgot to pray — I was tired and forgot or too busy that night or something, I just forgot. The next day I received a phone call — my son had committed suicide last night. 

How could God punish me that way? I forgot to pray one night, and he takes my son? So I turned my back on God. But today you’ve sparked faith in my heart. I think I’m going to try again with God.

“Wait! Come back!” I wanted to call out as I frantically scanned the sea of faces for the woman at the window. I wanted to hug her again, tell her everything was going to be OK, let her know that God still loves her. But she was gone. 

A photo from Katie Jones’ mission trip to Mexico (PHOTO PROVIDED)
My heart broke. I prayed for her, begging God to nourish the spark in her heart and kindle it into a new flame.

Every time I think of that experience, I’m reminded that the mission field isn’t only where we think it is — Mexico or other lands far away from us. It’s the people around us, at the store, at work, even on planes.

The words of 1 Timothy 4:12 resonate in my head: Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.

My 5-year-old brother, Isaac, says the cutest, most heartfelt prayers at the dinner table. Many times I’m inspired to have unwavering faith like his. He’s evangelizing in his own home without realizing it. 

Recently, I interviewed Caleah Wells, a volleyball standout for West Virginia University who grew up in the North Las Vegas Church of Christ. She does a lot more than spike the ball. She extends a hand to roommates, teammates, even coaches, hosting Bible studies in her dorm and constantly inviting others to church.

Paul was speaking not only to Timothy but also to us — a 5-year-old boy at the dinner table, collegiate senior on the volleyball court and a 16-year-old panicking evangelist on an airplane bound for Seattle.

Jesus wants us to receive the Kingdom like a little child, regardless what the calendar says about our age. 

I pray that we can go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to lost souls — and that I’ll be ready the next time a broken, hurting soul sits next to me on a plane.

KATIE JONES, who grew up in Alaska, is interning for The Christian Chronicle as she studies at Oklahoma Christian University in Oklahoma City.

Filed under: Headlines - Secondary Inside Story

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