A Flight to Nowhere

by Rob Weingartner

              Bible for new believer in China

             Bible for new believer in China

In my work with The Outreach Foundation I spend a lot of time on airplanes. Last week, as I prepared to depart for Beijing, a friend asked me about the length of the flight. I thought to myself, “I really don’t want to know!”

Sometime, though, I’d love to fly on a plane that I read about a few years ago. An Indian airlines engineer name Bahadur Chand Gupta, following his retirement, decided to try to make some money offering airplane rides. He figured that in a poor country such as India with lots of people interested in flying, he might be able to set up a little business. He bought an old Airbus 300 and moved it to a field outside New Delhi. Each Saturday morning people come to ride on his plane.   

Gupta sits in the cockpit and his wife leads the team of flight attendants. They use a battery-powered portable PA system to give the pre-flight safety instructions. After they reach cruising altitude, his wife and the others serve in-flight refreshments from tea carts. They often encounter turbulence and hastily have to fasten their seatbelts. Before landing the passengers hear the obligatory announcement about returning seatbacks and tray tables to their full, upright and locked positions. And they land. The thing is, the plane is missing a wing and a tail section and never gets off the ground.

The article I read quoted a young teacher named Jasmine, and I mean not to make fun of her, who said after the flight, “It was much more beautiful than I ever imagined.” But just imagine if she had really flown! Just imagine if she’d seen her town from 15,000 feet and felt what it is like to soar on the wind!

For me that plane has become a kind of metaphor for the church. So often God’s people get focused on themselves and forget that we are called to be out in the world proclaiming good news to those who desperately long for it, binding up the broken and the brokenhearted, displaying God’s glory and grace. That we have been blessed to be a blessing. Too often, instead of soaring on the winds of God’s Spirit we go through the motions, sitting broken a few meters off the ground.

Truth is, we are all a bit broken, and we do forget that we’ve been blessed to be a blessing.  But when we are at our best, we live as SENT ones. That is why God brings us together in congregations, to equip us to live in the world in ways that disclose his glory and grace. 

And God can use each one of us as he can use no one else, our passion and gifts and experience, our networks. He sends us to the places where we live and shop, work and play, to share his love. To speak a word of hope to a world that is broken and afraid; to bind up the brokenhearted; to care for those in need. To give in ways that bless. To show his love and tell of his amazing grace. To soar on the winds of the Spirit.

Rob Weingartner
Executive Director
The Outreach Foundation