Although I wore my noise-blocking headset for the next few hours, my sleep was frequently interrupted by the muffled sounds of conversation around me. I don’t think I have ever been on a flight with so many happy people. The plane was full of Togolese returning home for the holidays, all whom seemed to know each other, talking, laughing, and passing plump, contented babies around from seat to seat.
The man sitting next to me was somewhat of a celebrity, recognized by other passengers who stopped to chat with him. In between their conversations I noticed my seatmate intently reading from a small book of the New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs.
A few hours into the Paris-Lomé flight, I still felt poorly. I pulled off my headset for the first time since the flight began, to engage a bit with what was going on around me. Before the earphones ever touched my lap, my seatmate asked, « Is this your first visit to Togo ? » And the conversation began.
« Monsieur le Maire, » as he would be addressed in French, is a church-loving Baptist who knows his Bible very well. He shared favorite passages with me and I shared mine with him. We were both moved to think deeply and to discuss the spiritual meaning of many different scriptures and their application particularly to prayer and healing. This spontaneous sharing lasted for more than two hours. Interestingly, every question he asked me about prayer was going to be thoroughly covered in my lecture. Just before we landed he asked if he could come to the lecture, scheduled to occur during the Summit the following Saturday. Of course, he was welcome. As we stepped off the plane I realized that I had been healed of the illness during our chat.
The thirst for the Christ message of prayer and healing in Lomé, so evident in that first contact on the plane, was a foretaste of things to come. Upon arrival at my hotel, a young man in security insisted on taking my bags to my room. I felt they were quite manageable and tried every which way to get him to let me handle them myself. But, he just quietly continued on, carrying my bags and brushing off my protests.
When we arrived to the room and had complete privacy he inquired with such an intent and serious expression, « You are a Christian Scientist ? » I am not sure how he knew this, but I said yes. He then said, « I want to know the Bible. I want to study Christian Science. »
The Summit was a great success. Tom McElroy and I gave two lectures each. The local church members and TMC Youth team conducted workshops. My understanding is that a large percentage, well over half of those attending, learned about Christian Science for the first time at the Summit.
Monsieur le Maire did come to my lecture, the first one I have ever given in French, squeezing it into his very busy schedule. He had ten different marriages to officiate during the rest of the day. But he came and listened intently, taking notes and asking sincere, astute questions. Before he left, he obtained his own copy of Science and Health to help his Bible study. We plan to stay in touch to continue the conversation that began on our flight.
I could report on hundreds of conversations and contacts made over the course of my five days in Lomé – each one illustrating the same things: a pure love of the Bible and the heartfelt desire to grow in the practice of effective, healing prayer. I would be pleased and ready to go back to Lomé at any time. God’s beautiful, radiant, happy children, with pure hearts hungering and thirsting after righteousness, are found everywhere there.