Jack McGuckin of Wycliffe Bible translator’s Jungle Aviation Service was on one of his first missionary flights in Peru. The mission director had a rule to build good relationships with the authorities: “Always cooperate with the government people whenever possible. We are in their country by permission, to preach the Gospel. So be courteous!” This sometimes meant that they would do things to please the leaders that they might not be comfortable with, as long as the action wasn’t a morally compromising request.
Jack faced one of those moments. A sergeant had captured an ocelot and wanted Jack to deliver it to an army officer at another base. He had placed the South American panther in a huge wicker basket. The sergeant exclaimed, “The tiger cannot possibly escape from the basket.” So Jack begrudgingly loaded the ocelot into the plane, along with supplies for other mission stations, some chickens and turtles.
After Jack was steadily flying three thousand feet above the Peruvian jungles, chaos erupted in the back of his plane. The ocelot had broken free from the “impossible to escape from” basket. The chickens distracted the ocelot for a little while, but then the ocelot decided to focus on Jack.
Desperately, Jack looked for a place to land while praying for help. He noticed a small settlement and landed the floatplane on the water next to it. The men from the settlement immediately helped him gain control and recapture the ocelot. Then, they thanked him for landing there. One of the villagers had just had a heart attack and would die without quick medical attention in a hospital. Something the villages did not have the capability to pull off. And Jack’s plane provided just that capability.
Jack thought, “So the Lord had a purpose in allowing the tiger cat to break loose. God used a snarling ocelot and a scared pilot to get His plane to the right place and save a man’s life.”
Without the chaos in the plane, without the abrupt interruption to his plans, without the fear to his life – or should I say – because of the chaos in the plane, because of the abrupt interruption to his plans, because of the fear to his life, God used Jack McGuckin to save a man’s life. When bad things happen, God things are coming. (Story adapted from Missionary Stories with the Millers by Mildred A. Martin)
Paul taught us that God will use all things for the good of those who love him. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28 ESV).
This isn’t just on the missionary field in Peru. This isn’t just some truth from Scripture that is thousands of years old.
Recently, I was blessed to hear Charles Recker speak to the Antwerp Rotary Club. Last June, Charles, while checking on his farmland on his ATV, accidentally pulled in front of Buick heading down the road at full speed. A full-sized car at full speed hammering into an ATV is not a pretty site. Charles was flipped up into the air, crashed into the windshield and landed on the side of the road.
Since I already told you that I recently was blessed to hear Charles speak, you know that he is doing well. Praise God for his healing. He had a full recovery after spending much time in the hospital, receiving treatments, and going through therapy. But the thing that stuck out to me in the telling of his story is the story of the driver of the Buick that hit him.
Because of the accident, the cuts she received on her face from the windshield breaking, and the following treatment, the doctors discovered a cancerous tumor that was previously undetected. They were able to treat the cancer and she was fine besides a few cuts that needed healing. She was probably saved that day from a tumor that would have remained undetected until it was too big.
Interruptions. Accidents. Could they be God things? When bad things happen, God things are coming.