Drippy Nose and China
“Warner!!!” Yelled my 98-pound Grandmother Baggs with her face screwed up into a serious look of concern. “You need to take yourself and your drippy nose down there, get on that tractor, and pick them kids up!!” “Aw Edith!,” said my Grandpa Baggs, “those young people don’t want an old man with a drippy nose driving them around in a hay wagon. They want a young man without a drippy nose!”
“Warner! You know what the Bible says: ‘Do not despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin . . .!’” Grandma was always quoting the Bible to my Grandpa. He had allergies that affected his nose, and he reluctantly took the small step of driving a tractor around during our summer Vacation Bible School (VBS) put on by our church. Back in the 1960s, he and a few other men from the church would drive around the neighborhood with hay wagons and pick up the kids that wanted to go to our summer VBS. But once he got started picking the kids up, he loved it, and the kids loved him—drippy nose and all!
Now, fast forward to 2011 in a small airport in China. My wife and I were waiting on our plane when we saw it was going to be delayed by ten minutes. But as we waited, we noticed it looked like our plane must not be the only one that was delayed—the airport was quickly getting overly packed, mostly with Chinese of course and a few Europeans, Australians, and we Americans squished into the mix. Ten minutes passed. . .no announcements about our plane boarding, so my wife walked over to the flight board, returned, sighed and said it was going to be delayed another thirty minutes. Sitting on the cold marble floor, I sighed with her! Every seat was taken, both in the waiting areas and in the two little restaurants; there was not a seat to be had. People actually hovered over other people, waiting for them to get out of their seats, and when they did, they would swoop right into the now unoccupied seat! Since that was a culturally uncomfortable thing for us to do and we were the foreigners, we just sat on the floor.
Thirty minutes later, back to the board, “Flight delayed two hours”; we finally found out there was a big storm moving into the area. After a while, the marble floor was getting to us, and we started sitting on our hand luggage, trying not to crush anything inside. The delays continued with little communication from the airline. Another two-hour delay, then an hour, then two more hours—finally eight and half hours later, amid the chaos, we just “happened” to hear from another passenger that our plane was now boarding—but at a different gate! We heard no announcement—at least not one that we could understand. In a panic, we gathered our things and dashed to the other part of the airport, hoping we wouldn’t—or hadn’t already–missed our long-awaited flight!
Once we reached the new gate, my wife and I just stared at each other while shaking our heads, thankful that we had made it! Then, out of the sea of people, I heard the voice of a lady behind me say, “Excuse me, may I ask where you’re from?” Turning, I smiled and said we were from the United States; she smiled and said she was too. “Where in the States?” I asked. When she said, “Ohio,” I said, “Us too!”and then followed up with, “What city?” Her answer of “Columbus,” caused me to reply in amazement, “We’re from Columbus as well! What a small world!!” There we were over 6,000 miles from Columbus, Ohio, talking about our hometown!
Keeping our eye on our flight that was boarding, I could see I had time to answer her question about what we were doing in China; I explained we were visiting our daughter and also mentioned that I teach at a Christian International School which led her to share that she and her husband were serving the Lord as well in Asia as missionaries. Since she was a Christian, I’m always fascinated to find out how people have come to know Jesus. The line to our boarding plane was getting shorter, but I wanted to get this last question in. “So how did you come to know Jesus?”
She said as a young girl, during the summers she went to a small church where she gave her life to Jesus. She mentioned that her parents weren’t Christians, and if it hadn’t been for the hay wagon coming around and picking her and her friends up and taking them to Vacation Bible School, she may never have come to faith in Christ. Kind of gasping, and knowing she was from Columbus, I said, “Was this a Christian and Missionary Alliance church on Tremont Road?” When she responded with a “Yes!” my mouth fell open in disbelief. I said, “My Grandpa Baggs drove one of those tractors!” We just stared at each other and marveled—We probably had similar thoughts racing through our heads, “Really?? What are the odds? Yes, we’re in a small airport in China talking about the familiar Tremont Road VBS and a hay wagon!”
Later, I marveled even more, thinking that because of my Grandpa and the other men’s small efforts of driving a simple tractor around picking up kids in a hay wagon, this woman was now serving the Lord on the other side of the world. I wondered how many more of those hay-wagon-kids may also be serving the Lord today, doing their part…..because of the small beginnings of a few faithful men years before.
Grandma Baggs was right—“Do not despise small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin . . .!” –Zachariah 4:10, the Bible (NLT)
Copyright © 2012 by William D. (Nick) Nichols