By Betsy Tacchella
As I boarded a plane from Phoenix to Chicago, I quietly breathed my usual traveling prayer, "Lord, give me an opportunity to share You with someone on this trip." Settling into my seat, I glanced at the lady next to me and realized she was from a foreign country. "Where are you from?" I asked.
"We're from India," she smiled back. Her English was perfect. In fact I learned later that she spoke six languages fluently. I liked her instantly. Her demeanor was one of genuine warmth and acceptance, and I sensed God was up to something.
She shared some things with me about her country and her life. Then I asked her if there were many Christians in India.
"Yes, there are some Christians in India," she replied, "but I was personally raised in the Zoroaster faith. I've studied many religions and now practice the Hindu religion."
Zoroaster! Hindu! Lord, I know nothing about these religions. Where do I go from here?
Quietly the Holy Spirit gave me another question for her.
"Firoza, are you familiar with the Christian faith?" I asked.
"Why, yes, I was raised in a Christian school," she replied, "and I also have a maid who is Pentecostal."
With that, I knew this was a divine appointment and that there was a Christian woman in India who was probably praying for her salvation.
Sensing that she'd never heard the real message of salvation, I then asked, "May I share with you a booklet that tells about Jesus?"
Since she seemed eager to hear, I rummaged through my purse and pulled out a copy of Billy Graham's pamphlet, "Steps to Peace With God." She listened intently as I shared God's love for her, man's sin problem, Jesus death on the cross, and our need to receive Him personally.
As I covered the basics of the Christian experience, I asked her if she saw herself as a sinner.
"Oh, yes," she replied. "I know that there are things I do wrong."
Although impressed with the Bible verses I showed her, she still had questions. "I've studied many religions," she explained. "Aren't they really all the same? They all have good things in them? What makes Christianity so special and exclusive?"
"Well," I cautiously proceeded, "Firoza, let me answer that with a question. You have agreed with me that you are a sinner.
"Yes," she nodded.
"What does the Hindu religion offer you to rid yourself of your sins?"
Following a contemplative pause, a troubling revelation seemed to collide with her theology as she haltingly answered, "Well... nothing. The Hindu religion has no way to eliminate sin." She sat quietly and pondered the weight of this discovery.
"Firoza," I continued, "that is the difference between Christianity and all the other religions. You see, when Jesus died on the cross, He took all of our sins with Him. When we receive Him as our personal Lord and Savior, all of our sins are forever washed away. When Jesus hung on the cross, His last words were, 'It is finished.' He meant that He had accomplished everything that was necessary for salvation and the forgiveness of sins. After He died, He rose from the dead as proof that He was God, and our sin problem was resolved. Because of Jesus' finished work on the cross, we can now have a personal relationship with God."
"You know, someday we will come face to face with God," I continued. "He is a holy God, and His eyes are too pure to behold sin. Firoza, what will you say to Him when you come before Him? If He were to ask you why He should let you into heaven, how would you answer?"
Her thoughtful look told me that she knew she was not prepared to face God.
"I know what I would say," I gently spoke. "I would tell Him I've been washed with the blood of Jesus and my sins were forgiven when I received Jesus into my life."
Soberly and thoughtfully she replied, "This is serious stuff, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is," I responded. "It's really a life or death issue."
The plane began its descent and I realized we'd talked about Jesus for over three hours. We touched on many aspects of the Christian faith, and I told her that our meeting was no accident--that it was a divine appointment set up by God. After exhorting her to read the book of John in the Bible, I took her address and promised to send her a book for further reading.
As we landed in Chicago, the Lord reminded me of a prayer I had prayed just a week before. We had attended a meeting in our church where a mission-minded speaker had asked us to pray that God would impress a country on each of our hearts. As I had prayed, I became discouraged that no country seemed to fill my heart with zeal. I didn't sense a strong desire to visit or pray for any one country. So I walked away with these words to God, "Well Lord, why don't you just bring the world to me?"
And he did! He brought me India on that flight, and on my next flight I sat next to a lady from Japan. But that's another story.
Betsy Tacchella lives in Sturgis, Michigan, with her husband of forty-two years. A Bible teacher, women's mentor and speaker, she is presently working on her Masters in Biblical studies. She has also written a yet to be published book, "Mother Has Alzheimer's," an adventure in God journaling her mother's demise. If you would like to write to Betsy, you can do so through the Letters page of this magazine.