Praying, Caring and Sharing: Surviving the Brussels Terrorist Attacks
By Jerry Wiles, President Emeritus, Living Water International, Special to ASSIST News Service
HOUSTON, TX (ANS – March 29, 2016) -- Chaos, confusion and panic gripped the hearts of thousands of passengers, airline agents and airport personnel during the morning of March 22, 2016 at the Brussels airport. As the bombs blasted, screams from security officers and others rang throughout the terminals.
Those few moments set in motion what would disrupt the schedules and change the lives of massive numbers of people around the world. Numerous news outlets have reported the dead as now being 35 and an estimated 270 wounded from the bombings at the airport and the metro stations.
There is a saying that, “Every negative has a positive, and the more negative the negative, the more positive the positive.” So said one of my mentors’ years ago. My Living Water International colleagues traveling with me last week saw that worked out in many ways the few days that we were delayed because of the Brussels airport terrorist attacks.
After a week of Orality Training and fact finding regarding the Ebola crisis in Liberia, our LWI team was in route back to the USA, we were scheduled for a four-hour layover in Brussels. Having cleared passport control, security checks and grabbing a cup of coffee, the bomb blasts happened, and everything changed. We were told by authorities that there was an emergency evacuation, and to leave all our bags and exit the terminal.
Getting the thousands of people out on the tarmac, we were then loaded on buses and transported to a safe place, which in our case was a hanger where we spent the day. It was remarkable to observe the many different kinds of responses, from anger and confusion, to peace and calm. It was the difference in daylight and darkness.
One of the interesting observations was how many people suddenly became interested in prayer, spiritual matters and were open to talk about the Lord. Standing in a cluster of people near a warm spot in the hanger, I made the remark to one of my travel companions, “This reminds me of the story of when Jesus calmed a storm during a difficult time on the sea when His disciple thought they were about to die.” After briefly recounting the story, we discussed how Jesus cares for us and is still able to bring calmness during our storms of life. About a dozen other follow passengers were listening in on our conversations and that opened the door for additional witness and ministry opportunities.
Sometimes during crisis time, it’s more natural to show care, to pray and share. However, prayer-care-share can, and should, become a life style for followers of Jesus, every day, wherever we happen to be.
Several of those we talked with over the next few days who were delayed in Brussels had lost loved ones and co-workers. Some shared about being close enough to hear the blast and see the fire and some of the dead and injured. Flight attendants and airline personnel were in tears, grieving and seeking to comfort each other.
For the next few days after the attacks, everyone was in edge and there were other warnings that other attacks could occur. Military, security agencies and special forces were on high alert.
The experience of the terrorist attacks was also a reminder that those occasions seem to bring out the worst and the best in people. While we observed fear, anger and anxiety, we also saw how many had a desire to assist, comfort and serve the hurting. In the midst of a lot of pushing and shoving, we also saw kindness, calmness and concern.
For followers of Jesus, who is walking with the Lord, it is during those dark and difficult experiences that we are able to soars to greater heights of usefulness to God and be part of His redemptive activities. Those times can be character builders. Someone has said that times of testing can either make us bitter or better, depending on our attitudes and responses.
As we traveled back the USA, many other opportunities presented themselves to share our experiences. Everyone seemed interested to hear. After sharing with one flight attendant, I discovered later that she shared my story with the other members of the cabin crew. That, of course, lead to other conversations and resulted in sort of a chain reaction.
It is true that light shines the brightest in the backdrop of darkness. It was great to learn of the many who were praying for our safety and return to our families.
Note: In a message to ANS founder, Dan Wooding, Jerry Wiles said, “I would appreciate your prayers, as I depart for Zambia on Thursday.”
Photo: Scene of devastation inside the Brussels airport, where Jerry Wiles and his team had a miraculous escape. 2) Injured people are seen at the scene of explosions at the Brussels Zaventem airport. (Photo: Reuters). Soldiers in the aftermath of the terrorist bombing (Photo: Jerry Wiles). 4) Jerry Wiles in Africa.
About the writer: Jerry Wiles is President Emeritus of Living Water International and serves on the advisory council and leadership team of the International Orality Network. He can be reached at: [email protected]