In late February, I took my first trip out to visit my family in Phoenix since my dad had suffered a stroke last summer. I was there for 16 days altogether last July, watching Dad slowly die. Memories of this experience were flooding back now, and part of me did not want to talk to whoever sat next to me on the plane. But I told God I was willing to have a conversation about Jesus, and left it in His hands. At first the man who sat next to me, an older Asian man, was pretty quiet. I made a couple of conversational gambits about the weather, etc., to which he responded only briefly. I felt the Lord telling me, “Don’t push it. Just let it be.” So I was quiet for a bit.

And then he started talking. He was on his way to LA–even though his daughter and her family were at his house in Dallas, visiting from New York City. He was on his way to LA because his sister called to say that their mother was dying. “I think she is just waiting to see you, and then she will go,” his sister had told him.

“Now I know why I am sitting next to this man,” I thought. We had a lovely conversation, all the way to Phoenix. It turned out that this man … was a believer. His mom was, too. He is Filipino, and had become a Christian as a student in Manila when someone from Campus Crusade for Christ had told him how he could have a personal relationship with Jesus. Just like me, though for me it was in Louisiana. His Mom was a woman of faith who had had a powerful influence on his life, but was now in hospice and going home to Jesus. Just like my dad was last July.

[This man] has a PhD from DTS, and pastors a Filipino Bible church in Richardson. I told him that I had prayed about who I would sit next on the plane. “The last time I took this flight, I was in your shoes,” I said. He replied, “God put you next to me on purpose.” Before we landed, I prayed for him out loud, asking God to give him a special time of saying goodbye to his mom. It was a privilege to be able to encourage a fellow believer as he walked the same road through the valley of the shadow of death that I had so recently walked. You never know where these conversations about Jesus will take you, but they are worth the journey.