My Life as an International Drug Runner ~ Part ONE

African Children
The glimmering city lights of Nairobi were spectacular as the plane banked toward the runway. I couldn’t help but smile at the thought of the two-week adventure that lay ahead of me. I took a deep breath, and then exhaled slowly. I recalled the distant yet emotionally vivid memory of myself as an eight-year-old boy, holding on for dear life to the back of the pew in our little country church. It was the altar call, and I was scared to death I might get “the call.”

You might know what I’m talking about—the “missionary call to Africa” that happens when we commit to “give our all” to God. The altar calls demanded every ounce of strength I could muster to stand my ground, even though everything inside me wanted to be God’s little warrior. But I had to stand firm. I couldn’t risk full surrender, knowing it could mean the end of life as I knew it. I liked my life just the way it was. An assignment to some remote jungle in Africa, never to see my family or pony again, would ruin everything.

It didn’t help that the song leader, and everyone for that matter, always seemed so somber, like someone had just died, or was about to die, as they sang songs like I Surrender All, and I’ll Go Where You Want Me To Go…Dear Lord!

Now here I am, about to land in Africa. My pulse quickens as I rehearsed my mission: Deliver thousands of dollars worth of drugs and medications to an orphanage near Kobare, north of Lake Victoria and a little north of the equator, not too far from Uganda. In essence, I’m an international drug runner, and I don’t know a soul where I’m going. I’ve never felt so alive in all my life.

My contact at the airport was an important police-type guy—the equivalent to our FBI, I was told. He spoke English, but I had to strain to understand him because of his heavy accent. I knew I was about to embark on an incredible adventure, but I didn’t expect it would begin so soon. The first real excitement began at customs, which brings me to the reason for this great adventure.

It seems that in the past when medications and drugs had been shipped to the orphanage, they tended to “shrink,” or disappear altogether, before they got to where they were supposed to end up. And since I’m always up for an adventure, I volunteered for the job of personally delivering them. I had about $8,000 worth of drugs and medical supplies stuffed into two bulging suitcases.

Back at customs, as I approached the armed guards, I was ordered to “Halt!” As I stopped to comply, my contact told me to keep walking. Now, keep in mind I had a difficult time understanding him, so I thought he said to keep walking, but I couldn’t be certain. When I looked at him to confirm what he had said, he told me to look straight ahead and keep walking, and he motioned briskly in the direction he wanted me to go.

Obediently, I kept walking. Now the customs guys were shouting at me to halt. I thought, Wow, I could get shot in the back, right at the start of my wonderful adventure! But I continued walking as bravely as I could, with my shoulders hunched a little, just in case they decided to open fire.

When we made it outside—alive—I asked my contact what would have happened if I had stopped. He told me they would have taken what they wanted and then charged me a “fee” to keep the rest. He gave me a brief lesson about the corruption of the government, and how he would look after me—at least until I got out of Nairobi. (Part I of 5…to be continued…)

It happened on a hike in New Mexico…

It happened on a hike in the mountains of New Mexico, the very first time we met after connecting on Rose had invited me to come to Albuquerque for the 2004 International Balloon Fiesta. I lived in Michigan at the time -1613.3 miles away. A “safe” distance, we thought. No chance of anything “happening” other than meeting a new friend.

Rose took me hiking in the mountains, and it was on one of those hikes I encountered the grace of God in the form of woman. As we were descending the mountain, I told her my story of moral failure, and my eventual spiritual healing. I was totally unprepared for the response I got from her as she stopped on the trail, turned and embraced me, and told me she saw a man transformed by the grace of God.  She says that’s when she first fell in love with me…in the midst of my “mess confession!” Imagine that!

A few weeks after our first encounter I traveled to Kenya to deliver medical supplies to an orphanage. When I arrived back in Detroit, Rose met me at the airport, and we enjoyed our second “date.”  A few weeks later Rose and I were married in New Mexico—the 3rd time we met. We recently celebrated our 7th anniversary.

There’s something about the grace of our Lord that creates a bond that is beyond our ability to explain. For Rose and me, our personal stories are a living illustration of God’s amazing grace–and our love story is the Divine punch line!

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