story by Steve Geis
My Thursday morning started with a request for a medevac flight from a bush clinic to the capital, Port Moresby (POM). A lady experiencing shortness of breath and heart problems needed urgent care. We readied an aircraft and I was dispatched on the flight. Forty minutes later we loaded the patient, accompanied by a doctor and nurse, and departed for the capital. En route, the aircraft experienced a transponder failure.
Entry into Port Moresby’s busy airspace requires a functioning transponder, the device that allows Air Traffic Control (ATC) to monitor an aircraft’s position on radar. When I explained to ATC the urgency of our flight, they granted us special permission to enter their airspace with the failed transponder. We landed without further incident, and the patient was delivered to the hospital.
Since we couldn’t continue our flight with the failed transponder, we arranged for a technician to be flown down from our aviation base early the next morning with a new transponder to swap out the faulty one. Fixing it was supposed to be a simple, one-hour job. However, the technician ran into difficulties getting the new transponder to fit properly into the mount in the aircraft. We realized we had to request another special permission and fly the aircraft back to its base for further repairs.
This was extremely frustrating for the technician and me as we had planned to pick up Zacc in a small village outside of POM after the transponder replacement and fly him to his home village. Zacc had just lost his wife and newborn child to birth complications a few weeks earlier in POM. Even as a follower of Jesus, he was finding it understandably difficult to talk to God since his loss. He had decided to visit his home village to mourn with his own Bariai people.
The delays and revised flight schedule meant Zacc would now have to remain in the village over the weekend until we could arrange another flight on Monday. What was God trying to do?
On Saturday, the day after we had originally planned to pick Zacc up, the mother of a member of his family came to his house, frantic with worry. Her daughter had been trying to give birth for three days and was physically fading. There was no medical help in the village. When the family went to pray over their relative, Zacc said he wanted to pray too. His father remarked to him that he had not seen Zacc pray since Maria’s death. (Although his faith in God had endured, Zacc had not yet come to a point where he felt like praying.) He asked the Lord to show his grace and allow the mother and child to live, praying that he did not want to see anyone else in his family die in this manner. When he finished his prayer, the baby immediately came right out! The umbilical cord had been wrapped around the head of the nine-pound baby, preventing the mother from delivering. Both of them survived! As you can imagine, this has greatly encouraged Zacc and has strengthened his faith.
So the frustration of the faulty radio and the canceled flight was all part of the Master’s plan to show his power in a very personal way to Zacc. Sometimes I get a glimpse into why God orders events differently to carry out his plans. It’s nice to know that he’s in control when it appears there is chaos all around.