Just a few weeks ago I experienced first-hand the fact that God's flight plan is always better than my own. On my way to Haiti to report on the damage from the earthquake, my American Airlines flight was delayed due to mechanical difficulties.
The delay in Dallas/Ft. Worth would cause me to miss my flight from Miami to Santiago, Dominican Republic, and then further delay a ten-hour bus ride from Santiago to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. So due to a delay in Dallas, I would ultimately be two full days late getting on the ground for news reporting assignments in Haiti. In the world of news, that's an eternity.
As I hung up from briefing my hosts in Haiti of this dilemma, a woman standing next to me in the American Airlines terminal looked at me with concern.
"Are you with the media?" she asked. I acknowledged that I was. "It sounds like you are trying to get to Haiti," she said. "Yes," I replied, "but because of this mechanical delay many of my plans are in jeopardy."
She went on to explain that she was the media relations director for American Airlines and had a 727 plane departing Miami at 4:00 a.m. flying directly into Port-au-Prince with doctors and supplies. Furthermore, two media personnel had backed out at the last minute. She asked if I might want the two remaining seats for my videographer and me? If that wasn't enough, once we arrived in Miami the airline company provided a complementary hotel and food voucher for an enjoyable Cuban meal.
Was this a coincidence or a move of God's hand? As I've aged, I have come to realize there are no coincidences in God's economy. I believe this was a divine appointment not simply to get me to Haiti, but to demonstrate God's flight plan is always better than my own.
As it would end, I would not only arrive directly in Haiti, but many hours sooner than I originally planned. When I considered that I had also raised the necessary funds for travel expenses to Haiti in only three days, I learned yet again that God's provision is worthy of my pursuit.
God would go on to provide impassioned interviews with those in Haiti. Two stories aired on network television showing the faithfulness of those serving and living in Haiti in the midst of horrific devastation.
But the story of God's leading doesn't end here. On our last day my itinerary had us returning on the same ten hour bus ride to the Dominican Republic that God had rerouted during our departure.
The night before our return, I shared with Kevin Peeples, a wonderful Christian cinematographer from Charlotte, NC, that God did a much better job getting us to Haiti than I did. "Why don't we go to the Port-au-Prince airport and see what happens? Hauling expensive equipment for ten hours isn't something I really want to do."
So, we had our driver drop us off at the airport. Once we arrived, we were immediately told there were few options for us to fly out of Port-au-Prince. There was only room for medical professionals. After asking around, the manager of the US customs department processed us to return home on a military transport plane. If you've ever done that before you understand you don't know where you are going until you are in the air. The military does this for security purposes.
As we waited on the 90-degree tarmac, a United Airlines plane landed unloading supplies and medical teams. Uncertain of when we would leave with the military ("hurry up and wait" applies) and where we would be taken - we patiently stood in line.
A man with United then approached us and asked, "Are you with the media?" (I guess our gear gave it away.) "Yes," I replied. He informed us, "We are leaving here in ten minutes going into Chicago O'Hare and we have some empty seats. Would you like to go?"
Needless to say we gathered our belongings and off we were to Chicago where we would catch connecting flights to our respective final destinations.
Going to Haiti was a watershed moment for me. I might have never arrived, yet just the experiences of raising funds and watching God orchestrate travel plans were worthwhile. But beyond that, I was humbled to capture Haiti in one of her darkest hours. Christian Haitians singing praises to our Lord in spite of their despair, praying for a better future.
Amputees have it especially hard. It is difficult enough for an amputee in the US, where we have handicapped parking and ramps to aid those with disabilities. In Haiti, an amputee is most likely destined to sit by the side of the road begging for money. Forget navigating a wheelchair or crutches across Haiti's rugged terrain. But, knowing Haitians as I do now, thousands now will try, praising God as they journey down dirt roads, singing, shouting and crying out to God for His greatness to be known.
Will you join me in standing with Haiti? You won't be disappointed in God's flight plan.
Russ Jones is co-publisher of the award winning Christian Press Newspaper (ChristianPress.com) and CEO of BIG Picture Media Group, Inc., a boutique media firm located in Newton, Kansas. Jones holds degrees from the University of Missouri and St. Paul School of Theology. As a former NBC TV reporter he enjoys reporting where evangelical Christian faith and news of the day intersect. He is also president of the Fellowship of Christian Newspapers. Jones is also a freelance reporter for the Christian Broadcasting Network. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Original publication date: February 9, 2010