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Tourist rescued after being stranded in the airport for more than 100 days: My questions and God’s good news

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Tourist rescued after being stranded in the airport for more than 100 days
On March 20, 2020, in Manila, more than 300 Germans await a Lufthansa flight chartered by the German Embassy in the Philippines because of the Covid 19 pandemic. Photo by: Alejandro Ernesto/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Roman Trofimov was traveling from Bangkok on March 20 when he landed at Manila airport in the Philippines. However, he learned that he would be unable to leave the departures area as the Philippines were not issuing visas for arrivals because of coronavirus restrictions.

The airline was also reportedly not allowed to fly him back to Thailand. His embassy reportedly could not arrange a repatriation flight for him. As a result, he spent 110 days in the airport before he was able to fly back to Estonia’s capital Tallinn.

“Thank you to everyone who spread information online, gave me advice and just supported me with a kind word,” he wrote. “Together we did it!”

This story leaves me with more questions than answers. How does a person live in an airport for 110 days? Where did he sleep? What about showers and laundry? What about other travelers? What changed to allow his return home?

Even if the article answered all my questions, however, it would not discuss the issues that are even more relevant: Is Roman Trofimov a follower of Jesus? What is the state of his soul? Where will he spend eternity?

These are questions no news article can report fully. Even if Mr. Trofimov answered them, we could not know the sincerity of his responses. Only God and a person truly know that person’s spiritual condition.

Our greatest and most eternal gift

I have known people over the years who attended worship every Sunday but eventually confided to me that they were not true believers. And I have known people over the years who had not been to a worship service in decades but could describe their salvation experience in detail.

No one in Paul’s Jewish culture would have thought that this Pharisee and student of Gamaliel was actually persecuting the Lord and his people (Acts 9:4–5). Nor would anyone who watched Peter deny Jesus three times predict that he would soon preach the Pentecost sermon (Acts 2) and defy the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:18–20).

We should not assume that the people we know also know our Lord. Praying for their salvation and sharing the gospel with them is our greatest and most eternal gift.

Nor should we assume that people who are not living by biblical morality have no relationship with our Father. We are all sinners in our own ways (Romans 3:23). Even the most faithful of us is flawed in ways the world may not see.

The Holy Spirit is at work in every person you know. He wants to use your intercession, words, and example to lead them closer to Jesus.

C. S. Lewis observed that “the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men to Christ.” This is urgent work: “The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time” (Carl F. H. Henry).

Martin Luther noted, “It is the duty of every Christian to be Christ to his neighbor.”

Will you do your duty today?