Flight 961 to Eternity
This week as we approach the end of days, you can find hope as you enjoy Christ's approval!
You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.
-James 4:14, emphasis added
Thanksgiving Day, 1996: It was a typical flight--one that occurs thousands of times every day around the world. Ethiopian Air Flight 961 took off November 23, 1996, from Addis Ababa. Onboard were 163 passengers and twelve crewmembers. Among those flying that day were Mr. and Mrs. Andy Meakins. Andy, an elder at the International Evangelical Church of Addis, at one time pastored that large Bible-believing church. In less than two hours, more than 120 people died, including five from that church. Andy, a good friend of mine, did not survive the crash.
Somewhere near Kenya, the horrifying hijack began. Escaped convicts, brandishing an ax and a supposed bomb, stormed the flight deck, savagely beating the copilot and throwing him down. They then ordered the pilot to turn the plane eastward. In spite of the plane's dangerously low fuel tank, he was forced to submit to their demands. The pilot kept pleading for a refueling stop, but to no avail. The hijackers threatened to blow up the plane if he didn't comply. After trying to hug the coast of Africa, the pilot attempted to make it to the Indian Ocean island of Comoros. When it became evident they would not make it, the captain announced to the cabin passengers: "Listen, guys, we're all dead people. There is no argument now." "People began to scream," one witness said, "and others began to pray."
A Japanese honeymooning couple filmed the descent, dip of a wing, the flip, the crash, and the disintegration of the 767 over the water. News reports, however, never contained what was in a message to me from Andy Meakin's wife. This is what she told her church: "As soon as the captain told us we were going to crash I heard the distinct snap of my husband's seat belt. He was up and out of his chair. Going down the aisle row by row he earnestly shared the gospel of Christ with any who would listen. Before the sickening screech of twisting metal and the 110 mph crash of our plane into the water, Andy had signaled me that 20 passengers had trusted in Jesus for their salvation. Andy never made it back to the safety of his seat belt. But he took twenty souls with him to paradise."
You see, there was a safe spot in that plane--a shelter where no twisted wreckage could permanently harm--a haven that no crushing impact could erase. Andy knew and shared the divine directions with those souls being rushed into eternity: "God's directions are the only way to make it to happiness now and forever!" He knew how to escape the plane before it was too late for eternity. Do you know those directions? Are you following them? Are you sharing them with those whom God has placed around you?
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