the sky over cairo
by Alton Loveless
To learn more about the ministry of the National Association of Free Will Baptists, visit www.nafwb.org.
DURING A FLIGHT FROM CAIRO, EGYPT, to Amman, Jordan, I found myself on a Royal Jordanian airliner that was completely full and very warm. Most passengers had removed their outer garments to cope with the temperature, yet a small group of men retained their sportcoats. This puzzled me, because I knew the men had to be hot.
Flights into Jordan took longer in the 1970s, because the air space above Israel was closed to planes that were not landing there. The pilot had to fly farther north, turning over Lebanon to enter Jordan.
During the flight, one of the men wearing a sportcoat stood from his seat and made his way toward me looking for something to read in the Arabic language. I happen to have a publication of his choosing and gladly handed it to him so he could return to his seat.
Later, he returned the publication with a warm smile of appreciation. I reached out to pat his shoulder in response. He moved back quickly, and my hand fell on the largest gun I had ever touched, hidden under his jacket. Immediately, his palm delivered a stinging slap to the side of my face. The smile was gone. Instead, he placed his forefinger over his lips with a vehement gesture to be quiet.
While I sat in shock, he returned to his seat. Every few moments, he would glare over his shoulder with a grim expression, repeating his gesture for me to remain silent.
I grimly fought down panic. At the time, planes were hijacked regularly, and the Jordanian airline had one of the worst safety records in the world.
Convinced I needed to do something, I pulled from my wallet a clergy card issued by the state of Ohio. With the state coat of arms, the card looked very official. Taking a deep breath, I passed the card to the gunman. To my surprise, his expression of concern quickly changed to one of relief. He returned my card along with his own, which identified him as a Sky Marshall. It was my turn to be relieved.
When the plane landed in Jordan, the men in sportcoats moved forward with practiced precision. I saw them apprehend a man carrying a wooden box. They began to remove the contents, and even from a distance it was soon apparent that the box contained a disassembled submachine gun.
Now I knew why the Marshall slapped me, and why he did not want to be revealed to the suspect before the proper moment. I thanked God for His protection through these men.
I thank the Lord regularly for our country, our military men and women, police and fire personnel who have pledged their lives to guard our wellbeing.
“Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (Hebrews 13:17).
Adapted from the Farmington Press
Doug Smith, Editor
About the Writer: Dr. Alton Loveless is the former director/CEO of Randall House Publications, Nashville, TN. He is a freelance writer living in Farmington, MO, and has written for national and international publications.
Visit his blog.