“So, you have two sons!?” the Immigration Officer said with a cunning smile as he perused our passports - One Indian, and three Australian.
Two years in Australia had dulled our memory to the ‘legal’ corruption rampant in India’s daily life. This reality came flooding back into our suddenly troubled minds.
Looking towards me, but addressing George, the shabbily dressed Officer switched from conversing in English to Hindi. George exchanged a telling glance my way - the Officer didn’t want me to understand what he was saying to my Indian husband.
“Give me some Australian candy, and I’ll let you through,” the corrupt Officer told George with a deceptive smile. Pretending not to understand Hindi, George stared blankly at the man. Sensing something was going terribly wrong, I studied my husband’s face and could see that his mind was racing, searching frantically for an escape in this unexpected obstacle in our return to India.
Explosive moments passed in silence.
In a whisper, George told me the Officer’s request. A shudder went through my soul. My absolute delight in being once again in India was now unceremoniously swallowed in incredibility and panic. We don’t have any Australian candy! I screamed inwardly. We’ve returned to India as missionaries with just a handful of meager belongings, and sweets are not among them! O God! Help us!
Seeing his request was going unheeded, the Immigration Officer began fumbling through George’s passport. “Hey, what’s this?” he rudely asked George as he pointed to the smeared red departure mark that had been stamped in George’s passport two years before. “Madras Immigration has a round departure stamp, not a square one!”
The Officer endeavored to make a scene. Calling over his Immigration colleagues, he began telling them in a loud, animated fashion that something was out of order in George’s passport. Familiar with the ‘game’ they all willingly joined in, their greedy eyes sparkling with the prospect that something could be in it for them too.
Where was all this leading to? Visions of Indian prisons taunted my mind. O God, please don’t let them take away my husband and put the children and me in prison.
Suddenly, there was a tangible shift in the tense atmosphere. Something had changed. Looking up I saw a high-ranking Immigration Officer and a woman with a beaming smile standing on the other side of the Immigration counter.
The corrupt Officer who had been eagerly trumping up false accusations because George wouldn’t bribe him, was visibly shaken by their sudden appearance. “You know that woman?” he feebly muttered, realizing that his usually lucrative game was lost. George and I smiled in delight and in unmeasured relief, recognizing the woman to be the wife of one of George’s relatives.
The Officer, now furiously engaged in processing our passports, worked with a furrowed brow, the expression on his face saying, “This woman must be important to be allowed into this high security area and escorted by a such a high-ranking Immigration Officer.” Without further delay, our passports were stamped and with thankful hearts we departed New Delhi’s International airport in a official Indian Government vehicle.
And who was the rescuing angel in disguise? None other than the wife of the Indian President’s Personal Financial Adviser, George’s close relative.
God’s timing - impeccable, as always!
It was February 1st 1996, and already in our first few moments back on Indian soil the Lord had intervened at the precise moment, dramatically saving us from the plans of the enemy.
Reflection on this experience made me see that our individual lives are like passports in God’s hand that have been indelibly stamped with the infallible promises of God. Deadly perils and impossible obstacles may be encountered wherever we go in obedient response to His call and direction, whether it is on a foreign mission field or in our neighborhood supermarket. In facing these very real dangers we also experience God’s real miraculous deliverance from His faithful outstretched hand - this powerful truth was proved time and time again in all our missionary adventures on the Indian subcontinent!
“Rescue me, O LORD, from evil men; protect me from men of violence, who devise evil plans in their hearts and stir up war every day. They make their tongues as sharp as a serpent's; the poison of vipers is on their lips. Keep me, O LORD, from the hands of the wicked; protect me from men of violence who plan to trip my feet. Proud men have hidden a snare for me; they have spread out the cords of their net and have set traps for me along my path. O LORD, I say to you, "You are my God." Hear, O LORD, my cry for mercy. O Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, who shields my head in the day of battle--do not grant the wicked their desires, O LORD; do not let their plans succeed, ...” Psalm 140:1-8. NIV.
Karen Elengikal is an inspirational, published writer from Sydney, Australia. Karen's first book 'Kidz Battle Zone' was released in 2007. (see FW Book Review).