So, Michael Lawrence and I walk up to the airline counter with luggage in two, expecting to get our 16 hour trip to S. Africa underway. The young woman at the counter kindly asks for our passports. We each comply.
Then with an Indian-African accent, she says, "Sir, do you have another passport?"
"Hmmm... no," I replied.
"To enter S. Africa, you need a passport with at least two blank pages back to back. We can't allow you onto the plane. If you were to reach South Africa, they would immediately deport you."
Michael and I look at each other in mild disbelief. I think I said something very intelligent and winsome like, "Huh?" She kindly repeated herself and pointed to a little sign on the desk explaining it all in black and white. I'm not sure why the South African Airlines website or the ticketing agent who sold us the tickets didn't make this clear, but it's apparently the law in S. Africa.
And guess what? It's Saturday afternoon--no chance of zipping in and out of your local Washington, D.C. passport office (never a chance of that anyway; just thought it sounded good). And oh, by the way, since today is Saturday, tomorrow is Sunday. No office opened then either. What about Monday? Labor Day--a holiday in the States--all government offices closed. Earliest appointment will be 8am on Tuesday morning. Earliest flight out, 5:40pm Tuesday afternoon, the same day I'm to have addressed the national conference of CESA on the gospel and 'race.'
Now at this point, I'm thinking, Looks like I'm headed back to Cayman. We call our good folks in S. Africa, seven hours ahead in deep sleep near midnight, to break the news. A productive conservation, some quick schedule changes so that Michael speaks on Tuesday and I on Wednesday, and maybe I'm still in business.
I say "maybe" because James tells us to make sure we say, "if the Lord wills." And that seems an appropriate lesson because if the Lord had willed, I'd be flying over the Atlantic right about now watching a movie and eating bad airline food for 50 bucks. If the Lord willed, there would not be some unpublished passport regulation for entering South Africa. But the Lord willed that I be here in D.C. for Labor Day weekend, celebrating the Lord's Day at CHBC, and enjoying a little more sleep in this time zone. The Lord's will is always good.
I'm praying everything goes without a hitch on Tuesday. I just feel like the enemy would conspire to hinder this important conversation in South Africa. I'm so thrilled he can't overthrow or even challenge the Lord's will and providential ruling in all things. God's best will be done. Please pray that His will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
So, this is a public service announcement: If you're going to South Africa any time soon, check your passport for a couple blank pages. Okay... whether or not you're going to South Africa, it might be good to check your passport. Don't wait until you're at the ticket counter and you're reduced to eloquent statements like, "Huh?"
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