Are you familiar with the concept of Divine Providence? The idea that at times God intervenes in our affairs so as to accomplish His purposes? I believe it. To put it another way: Sometimes a coincidence is a “Godincidence.”

Let me tell you a story.

This morning I woke up to a snowstorm in Kalamazoo, Michigan. I preached in Pastor Lee Cummings’ Resurrection Life Church last night and today I was traveling home. Because of the snow my plane was delayed in Kalamazoo. It’s just part of travel. So sat I sat in the “library” better known as the departure gate for three hours reading The Challenge of Jesus by N.T. Wright.

My plane got into Chicago O’Hare more than two hours late, but because flights all over the upper Midwest were delayed, my connecting flight was still there — but scheduled to leave in ten minutes. So I did the O.J. Simpson thing (No, not that!) and ran through the airport (some of you are too young to remember those Hertz commercials). I arrived at gate K-9 (easy to remember) just as the plane was leaving. So I got on the standby list for a flight to Kansas City leaving in two hours and went and to find something to eat.

After my highly nutritious airport meal I arrived at my gate to see if I would be able to get on the flight. When I heard there were eighteen people on standby, I almost gave up and went to the hotel where I had reservations. But I decided to wait it out and see if I would make it. I sat down and went back to The Challenge of Jesus (which to be honest is a bit of challenge to read — I don’t necessarily recommend it).

Now you need to know this about me; when I focus on a book I tend to become almost totally oblivious to things around me (ask Peri). But as I was reading, I smelled India. That’s right I smelled India. I’ve been to India eleven times and India is a very aromatic country and has a certain smell. It’s a good smell, a smell I like, and I always immediately recognize it as India. I looked up from my book and noticed that a man had taken a seat next to me. The moment I looked at him this thought instantly flashed through my mind: This man is from India, he is a pastor and this is his first time to America.

BZ: Pardon me, but where are you from?

Stranger: India.

BZ: What do you do?

Stranger: I’m a pastor.

BZ: Is this your first time to America?

Stranger: Yes, I just arrived an hour ago.

BZ: Welcome to America.

I told my fellow traveler (his name is Premraj Nag) that I had been to India eleven times and would be returning in February to make it an even dozen. He asked me where I’d been in India and I told him I’d been most everywhere. I asked him where he was from. He told me he was from Orissa, his wife was from Bangalore, that he had lived for many years in Bhopal, that he had recently traveled to Delhi to get a visa and that he had flown out of Chennai. I told him I had been to all of those places and related some incidence from each one. He was quite impressed. Remember, I was the first American he had met here. There was no doubt we were meant to meet each other.

It turns out that Premraj was a good friend of Graham Staines, the Australian missionary who was martyred with his sons in Similiguda, Orissa. I told Premraj I had done a pastors conference with P.G. Vargis (and of course he knows of P.G.) in Similiguda earlier this year and that we had chosen that location precisely because it was the site of the Staines’ martyrdom. What a “Godincidence” that I would be the first person he would meet upon arriving in America!

Premraj is attending a conference in Kansas City put on by City Union Mission. I asked him what he is doing after the conference. He said he didn’t know. I asked him where he would be staying, he said he didn’t know, that he was trusting God. I told him not to worry about it, that I would take care of him until he returned to India on the 28th of October. As he was boarding the plane I gave him all the cash I had on me (I’m pretty sure he had next to nothing).

I was the last person on the standby list to make it on the plane. I saw Premraj when we landed at KCI; I helped him find where he needed to go and told him to give me a call after the conference is over. I’m sure you Word of Lifers will get to meet my new friend Premraj sometime later this month.