Tuesday, December 6, 2016

I Gave The Gospel Over The Intercom Of A Communist Airliner

Thirty years ago, in 1986, Soviet Prime Minister Gorbachev declared perestroika and glasnost (reformation and openness). Communism had utterly failed them after they ran out of conquered nations' wealth. The Soviet Union was suddenly open to outsiders. Soon afterward, Jack Nichol's brother, Buddy, Lee Roberson's Son-in-law, called and asked if I would go with him and three others to the Soviet Union with a load of Russian language Bibles. Buddy had lined up several preaching engagements in the various Communist countries. I couldn't imagine the Communists allowing us to bring hundreds of Bibles into their union of nations, but was glad for the opportunity. I asked Deacon Fred Good if he would like to go... He did and paid both of our ways. We boarded Royal Romanian Airlines with our Bibles and Gospel tracts and flew out of New York to the capital city of Bucharest Romania. Romania was a part of the Soviet Union and its President, Nicolae Ceausescu, who was one of the most blood thirsty of the Communist rulers, had just been tried in a one hour military tribunal on Christmas day and immediately put to the firing squad with his wife.

So there we were, on a Communist, scheduled airliner, flying over the Atlantic into the heart of America's worst enemy, the Soviet Union, to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the stronghold of Atheistic Communism, the USSR, responsible for nearly 60 million murders and "unnatural deaths", and we would be among the first outsiders into that crumbling, evil empire,

Not long after we took off, Buddy asked the stewardess if we could pass out a gospel tract to each of the passengers. She said she would ask the pilot. Now, put yourself in this pilot's place. He has grown up in the harshest, Atheistic nation in the Communist Soviet Union where Christians were persecuted and not allowed to meet and worship. None of the citizens of those nations knew exactly what perestroika and glasnost allowed or even if it would last. As pilot, he was responsible for everything that happened on that international airliner. Now, he is asked if this little group of Christian preachers may give all the passengers, Kremlin officials, KGB Agents, Atheists and who knows what other high government officials, a piece of Christian propaganda.... by his permission. Maybe it was the euphoria of the fact his vicious Romanian President had just been executed, or that he just didn't know what he could or could not do. I'll never know what he was thinking, but God moved him to say "yes". So we passed out gospel tracts to everyone on the plane.

Having succeeded in that request, Buddy asked the Stewardess if she would ask the pilot if he would let one of us tell the passengers something of Jesus ... over the intercom system. Of course I knew that would never happen, but Buddy Nichol's faith knew no bounds. I could not believe it when the Stewardess came back and said "Yes, you may". No American Pilot would ever dare do such a thing on a scheduled American Airliner... but it was going to happen on a Communist Airliner. I was utterly astounded when Buddy said, "Rayburn, give them the gospel" and handed the microphone to me. you can believe it or not, but the passengers applauded my brief message. They too must have been feeling the relief of their new measure of freedom. Now, I know some of you are going to say, "No way", "That is impossible", "Is this April Fool's Day", "What kind of bate and switch are you pulling on us, Rayburn". OK, ask Buddy Nichols or Fred Good if I am pulling your leg or just lying (I'll put you in touch with one of them). Yes, folks, it really happened out over the Atlantic, and I am safe in saying such a thing has never and will never happen again on a Scheduled, Major Airline Passenger Plane... much less a Communist one.

By the way ... only two passengers complained about what happened ... both were Americans. Democrats no doubt. RB