Thursday, August 22, 2013

Sweating at Customs

Thirty missionaries and leaders were on an Open Doors team to China in the 1970s, smuggling in as many Bibles as possible to the underground church. We divided up into teams of three as we went through customs. For some reason, I ended up being the last person in customs. While most of the other missionaries had small bags of 10-20 Bibles, Open Doors had given me a huge footlocker on wheels weighing over 200 pounds with several hundred Bibles. The customs official was a young lady. She took my passport and asked me to open the footlocker. Knowing that if I opened it the Bibles would be confiscated, I simply asked her a question, “How are you today?” “Oh, I’m fine, thank you. Would you open that large footlocker, please?” I responded, “My, it’s hot here in China today. How do you do all of your work with that heavy uniform? You must be hot.” She said she was doing just fine and asked me again to open my bag. Now I was the one sweating! I’m not a very good smuggler as I couldn’t smuggle a ballpoint pen if I had to without getting caught. She could see that I was frightened, anxious, and sweating! So I responded again, “You’re the only woman working here in this section. What kind of training did you go through to do this? You must have been at the head of your class.” Again, she responded with a smile, thanked me, and again asked me to open my bag. This time I simply reached over and took my passport out of her hand and said, “Thank you, it’s been very nice talking to you, but I really need to go now.” I turned and tried to pick up the footlocker, but when I grabbed the handle I forgot to roll it, and because of the weight the handle snapped off. Then I tried pushing it on its wheels, but the floor was uneven and the wheels all collapsed. By this time, I was surrounded by several customs officials. I then simply took hold of a small piece of the handle which had not broken, picked up the 200-pound footlocker with one hand, and walked casually and safely out the door to my friends. God graciously allowed me to get through customs in my own inexperienced and inadequate way, so that Bibles might be filtered throughout China to His people for His glory.

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