In 2007 I flew back to Kyrgyzstan in Central Asia to visit some of the people I had baptized on a previous trip (for that story, see “What Does Your Faith Rest Upon?” @ brianjdodd.blogspot.com). Before I left the United States, I had a picture in my mind that I was to play one a guitar in the upstairs area of the Moscow Sheremetyevo airport. I thought God put the picture in my mind, and I expected all kinds of people to come and listen to me play. Ha! Anyone who has heard me play and sing knows that cats wailing have a better chance of drawing a crowd. Anyway, deluded as I was, I took out my guitar and played and sang my heart out. Nobody came except Ingrid, my wife, and Kirstie, my daughter—but they had to be there because they were traveling with me. I played and sang my heart out with all my favorite Jesus’ street rocker songs: Momma Killed a Chicken, Born to Be Unlucky, Why Don’t You Look into Jesus, I’m Feeling So Bad, Outlaw, Great American Novel and such.
No one came. Except 6-year old Eva from Denmark. She was the best audience ever. She was so into it that she got completely worn out. After listening for awhile she had to go lie down and fall asleep. Her dad, Jakob, gave me the peace sign (two fingers), took her by the hand, and led her back to their spot on the concrete a little farther down the balcony. She fell asleep on someone else’s card board/blanket makeshift pad.
A bit of time went by, and Eva’s father Jakob came walking up and held up the two-finger peace sign and said in perfect English, “Peace!” Now, I’m from California so I could have gone with hippy- surfer-dude, but my brain started to go with Matthew 10 and Luke 10—this must be a “man of peace” who opens the door for the good news about Jesus to be shared....Right? Wait. No. He said this: “My daughter is asleep on this strange woman’s bed and I have to go check on my flight. Can you watch my daughter and make sure this woman doesn’t run off with her?” Not exactly my idea of “ministry,” but I agreed, walked over and stood by the rail by Eva and the African woman sitting next to her while Jakob went to check on his flight. He came back, and I tagged off guard duty and went and sat back down. I was a little disappointed. It didn’t appear my Christian rock concert was having any effect.
Later, I looked down Jakob and Eva’s way, and there he goes again giving me the peace sign and smiling. I say to myself, “Self, this must be a man of peace. I’m going down there.” So I got myself up, went to save Jakob’s soul, sat down and tried to talk to him about God. But I couldn’t because the African woman there named Elizabeth kept interrupting me with complete religious nonsense. I looked over at her and she was surrounded by Watchtower materials that a Jehovah’s Witness had shared with her. I looked at these magazines then I looked Elizabeth in the eye and said in a very parental way, “You should not be reading these.” I cannot explain what happened next, other than to say she immediately complied. She looked down at the magazines, gathered them all up in her arms and walked over and threw them in the garbage can. She came back, and calmly listened to me tell her about Jesus and prayed out loud to submit to Jesus as her new owner and boss, and to do whatever he says. I spent some time telling her the six things every new follower of Jesus should know and gave her my Bible and all the trail mix and toothpaste we had, then we had to rush and catch our plane to Bishkek.
Oh, one more important detail. I forgot to mention that I found out Elizabeth was captive in this airport’s transit/transfer area, an international no-man’s-land. The story is still not completely clear to me, probably because she has some shame associated with it.
The part that is clear is that the guy taking her to Palestine from Germany told her that he had to take her passport outside the airport to get her ticket, and he never came back (probably sold her passport, since passports are big money on the black market).
Without a passport, she could not leave the transfer area to enter Russia, and without a ticket or a passport she couldn’t get on a plane. For 18 months, she was stuck there in that cold, heartless, inhospitable piece of concrete.
What did she do after we met? She read the Bible I gave her through many, many times. She prayed. She fasted. She waited for God to provide her food through some kind soul passing through the airport and having mercy on her. She shared Jesus with everyone who would listen and, by my count, evangelized people from at least 19 nations (nearby is a picture of the guy from Eritrea she shared Jesus with, and our co-worker in Christ Steve Hill from Canada who was one of the kind souls traveling through that airport from time to time). With the help of the United Nations’ High Commission on Refugees, we were able to get her out and back to Nigeria where she serves Jesus still.
“God has put his incredible power in cracked pots with the express purpose of demonstrating that the power is from him and not from us” (the apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 4).
Brian Joseph Dodd, Ph.D., Orlando, Florida, USA