I’ve just returned from my 12 day journey to Africa. Broken and bruised, humbled and changed, motivated and renewed would describe the plethora of emotions swirling in my heart and mind. Where o’ where do I begin?
Let’s begin at the end. My journey home.
Meet Cherry. A 28 year old cab driver from Freetown.
You spend a lot of time driving to get from place to place in this city. Poor roads and unimaginable congestion create an abundance of time to make lasting friendships. Cherry was one of them.
A few days before our scheduled flight home Jill and I asked Cherry if he would be willing to bring us all the way to the airport to make sure that we got their safely. It would require a full day. Since the airport is on an island, assessable only by boat, it takes a great deal of time to navigate your departure.
“Yes, I can do that…” he replied. “100%!”
100%. A guarantee that leaves no margin for error. As my journey was coming to a close, his assurance of a safe send-off gave me chills. The gift of shalom was alive and well.
Departure day came. We enjoyed lunch and conversation rich in family, relationships, America, and yes, even faith. It was good. Boarding the boat, a man approached Cherry and began a conversation. The two of them settled into a seat next to one another as we set sail across the water. Once the boat docked, the strange man seemingly dispersed as we shuttled ourselves in the direction of the airport. Almost under his breath, in passing, Cherry said to us,
“Remember you don’t trust anybody.”
Hmmm…that’s an odd statement.
“But Cherry, we trust you!” Jill replied.
“I know but just remember you don’t trust anybody.”
“I’m confused. Are you referring to the man on the Hoover craft?” Jill questioned.
“When you arrive in Ghana, this man will likely ask to help you with your bags or ask to help you through the airport. You don’t trust anybody!” Cherry implied.
And that was the end of the conversation. We said our good-byes over a can of coke, checked into our flight, and crossed through customs. As we settled into the hard plastic airport chairs, the man from the Hoover craft took a seat directly across from us. He smiled and attempted to strike up a conversation. We didn’t reciprocate. Just then he reached into his pocket, pulled out his phone, and began to boldly video tape Jill and I. Several awkward minutes passed until we decided to take our belongings and find a different seat.
Finally it was time to board the plane. Interestingly, we noted that the man waited to be the very last to board the plane. Finding an open seat, he sat next to Jill and once again attempted to strike up a conversation. Since Jill and I were not seated next to each other, she waited until moments before take off to move into the open seat next to myself.
Our flight to Ghana was uneventful. Well…until the very end, when seconds before touch down the pilot made a sudden change and sent our plane rocketing back up into the Heavenly skies. For about 10 minutes we didn’t know if it was mechanical, hijacked, or simply miscommunication. It was miscommunication and eventually we landed safely.
Safely into the presence of this stalking man.
“So, have you guys ever been to Ghana before?” says the man.
Again we ignore him. Within moments we find an airport agent willing to escort us all the way through baggage claim, customs, and onto our connecting flight. Ghana airport is interesting. In order to make your connecting flight you’re required to leave one building, walk outside into a congested sea of people and traffic, and reenter a completely different building. Oddly, the man disappeared and we never saw him again.
In hindsight (after much processing), Jill and I firmly believe that we were being set up, in the early trappings of some sort of sex-trade operation. It could have been a different outcome for us. Like that of the 27 million sex-slaves world wide. It’s real. It’s ugly. It’s happening right now.
Today, April 9th is END IT day! For more information on how you can shine a light on the sex-slave trade click here.
I’m totally and completely in awe of so many things through this experience. God’s nudge – the way he used this creepy experience to highlight just how easy a trade, a transaction could occur. In the blink of an eye, on a dark confusing street in Ghana, the outcome could have been completely different.
I have so much to be thankful for during my African adventure. I’m especially grateful to those God used (including Cherry) who helped to fulfill the gift of a lifetime and bring me safely home. 100%.