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  • Eric Kampmann

Fellow Passenger

I lift up my eyes to the hills—where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

—Psalm 121:1–2

I was on an airplane heading for Nashville and, like almost everyone else, I was quietly minding my own business. But I did notice the lady sitting by the window on my aisle; she was looking out at the world beyond our cabin, and in her hands was a Bible. She was an older black woman, and she had a quiet strength and dignity about her.

Well into the two-hour flight, we began to talk about the usual superficial things, but I really wanted to talk to her about her Bible as I had begun reading Scripture myself a few years earlier. I don’t remember many of the details of that conversation, but I was startled when she told me that she was a missionary from Africa who had come to the mission fields of the United States. Moreover, she told me that she often traveled from city to city without knowing where she would stay or whom she would help. Then she told me that the verse that she loved the most was Psalm 121:1: “I lift my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.” As it turned out, that verse was one of my own favorites.

I treasure that simple encounter on an otherwise unremarkable airplane ride to Nashville. My preconceptions were knocked off balance when I was forced to realize that we need missionaries here in America just as much as Africa might need them. But it was not the mission that impressed me. It was the person sitting in that seat by the window, so meek and unassuming, so gentle and faithful. She clearly was one of God’s children doing God’s business in a way that would not attract much notice, but still, she had that unique concentrated power that has been changing the world quietly and effectively one person at a time for over two thousand years.

—Eric Kampmann, Signposts

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