In my 12 years of ministry, this is the second time that I have experienced a radical and beautiful miracle of God—ON AN AIRPLANE—between China and the US. The first time was in March 2003 when we were bringing Levi to the US for surgery at Shriner’s hospital in Boston. We knew it would be extremely expensive bringing a family of 7 back to the US where we would face 6 weeks of hotel expenses, taxis and eating in restaurants. We left China in faith, having raised only $2,000 but trusting that God would provide for our needs—and for Levi—as we went.On the long flight from China to the U.S., the word began spreading among the passengers about our family, our work in China, and about Levi. People wanted to meet Levi and talk to us about our lives and work. One person after the other came up to talk with us including the flight attendants. At one point, the pilot himself came back and wanted to meet us. I smile as I remember that event and wonder who was flying the plane! Some passengers in the business class section began taking it upon themselves to write us checks and by the time the plane landed in Boston, God had already provided $4,650!
The latest miracle happened last month, on February 24. Jeff Johnson (my pastor) and I had just completed a whirlwind trip to China which included visits to Harmony House in Langfang, an excursion to Kaifeng Deaf School, and a clandestine meeting with Brother Tan (name changed), the leader of the underground seminary we support. By the time we boarded United flight 888 for our return home we were pretty well spent. When we landed in San Francisco, I was slow getting my things gathered up. My delay in stepping into the aisle put me directly in front of a Caucasian couple with a Chinese toddler. As I was waiting to disembark I asked the couple if they had just adopted. When they answered, “Yes,” I told them I had adopted two children and operated an orphan home in China. The husband said, “Really, what is the name?” I replied “Harmony Outreach,” to which his wife said, “You mean like Harmony House?!?” “Yes, that is the name of our orphan home!”
She looked at me for a moment and asked, “Do you mind if I ask your name?” When I answered “John Bentley,” her jaw dropped. “Oh my gosh, you shared at our church (Bethel Church in Kennewick, WA) 15 months ago and, as a result of your sharing, we made the decision to adopt!” What followed was hugs, praises to God, and pictures as we both realized that God put us in China at the same moment, on the same plane, and—of the 400 passengers waiting to disembark—put me directly in front of them! A week later Rachel Bostic emailed me this message:
Hello John, I just wanted to tell you once again that it was such a wonderful gift to meet you at the SFO airport. Our adoption process was somewhat delayed with no explained reason, and I am convinced that it was a precious gift from God to orchestrate our "chance meeting." The story came full circle in that moment. You were at the beginning and the end of our adoption process.
The beautiful thread continues to grow. Rachel and Jason have since started sponsoring Karis from Children of Hope orphanage in Cambodia and are hoping to visit Cambodia in the future, possibly even leading a team. What happened on Flight 888 that day was what I call “A love note from beyond”— one of those beautiful moments when God directly intervenes in my life with a very personal message that communicates his love for me—a message sent from the King of Kings to his servant on the earth. Thank you Lord. You are altogether beautiful.