How God Used a Case of Dysentery to Save Me From an Plane Crash That Left No Survivors
David Grant began preaching as an evangelist at the age of seventeen. Since then, he has ministered in over forty nations, serving in India, spending almost two decades as an area director for AG World Missions in Southern Asia. After being exposed to the dark injustice of sexual slavery in Southern Asia, Grant and his wife, Beth, launched Project Rescue. Since then, Project Rescue has grown to reach almost thirty cities in ten nations in Southern Asia and Europe. This excerpt is from David’s new book, Born To Give, reprinted with permission.
Like most people, there are moments when I’m keenly aware of God’s hand on my life, but one of the most dramatic of those moments came in the South Indian city of Trivandrum in the early 1970s. I was in South India preaching three times a day in Kerala State in outdoor meetings with Ernie Sorbo. We went back to Ernie’s house every night. It was hot, in a way only India can be hot — over 100 degrees every day.
The Missionary’s Disease
Ernie and I were in the jungle, and I contracted dysentery, which is the missionary’s disease. If you get two missionaries together in almost any part of the world, they will start telling each other dysentery stories in about the first five minutes. In just a matter of days, I had gotten down to 105 pounds. I’d been preaching for ninety days without a single day off. The next day, I was to have my first day off and then fly out the following day to Madras. I went to bed about four in the morning, sick with dysentery and exhausted.
In those days, all the flights were on Indian Airlines — old Boeing 737s on the big routes and little British World War II–era, forty-passenger turbo props on the short routes. None of the turbo prop planes had computer systems. You made your reservation weeks in advance, and there were always lots of people on standby. It was nearly impossible to change a ticket.
Going to Madras
I awakened after being in bed for just a few minutes with this feeling that I had to get up, get on the plane, and go to Madras. I tried to go back to sleep, but the feeling wouldn’t stop. I said, “Lord, if this is You, and I don’t know if it is, but if this is You, I’m sick and I can’t go. I’ve preached every single day for ninety days. I’m sick with dysentery, and I’m down to 105 pounds.” But the feeling just wouldn’t go away. My bed turned to concrete. So at 4:30 a.m. I got up, went to Ernie’s room, and said, “Brother Sorbo, I’ve got to go to Madras today.” He replied, “You can’t go to Madras.” I said, “I know I can’t, but I’m going out to the airport anyway. I’ll get a taxi.”
“Oh, no, no,” he said. “I’ll take you.” Ernie got up and drove me out to the airport. I tried to check in, but the agent said, “There are no seats. Your reservation’s for tomorrow. Please come tomorrow.”
I said, “No, I’m going to sit here, and if a seat comes open, please let me know.” I sat down, and half an hour later they were getting ready to board the flight when the agent came over and said, “I don’t know what happened, but there’s a seat open if you want to go.” I said, “No, I don’t want to go, but I’m going to go.”
God Stirred My Heart
I got on the plane, flew to Madras, and checked into the hotel, where I promptly went to bed. The next morning, the manager, who knew me well, knocked on my door and asked, “Mr. Grant, why did you come yesterday?” I said, “I don’t know why. I just came.” He said, “This morning’s flight crashed into a mountain and killed everybody on board, and they just released the names of the passengers.” For some odd reason, my name was still on the passenger list. “Your name was on the list, but you came yesterday. Why?” I said, “I don’t know why. I just felt that God stirred my heart to come yesterday.” I was flabbergasted. My intended plane had crashed, and everyone on board was dead. Then I realized God had awakened me. I was not supposed to be on that plane. God had more work for me to do.
There’s a mystery to this story that I have never fathomed. Why did God do that? I was spared, and all those people died. But that’s the story. Many of the Indian leaders saw it as an indication that God’s hand was on my life. When they introduced me, they would say, “This is the man who missed the flight that crashed and killed everybody on board.” On the other hand, even though I told the story for almost a year, I developed a phobia about dying in a plane crash because I told it so much. So I stopped telling it.
God is Watching Over Me
That moment has stayed with me for more than forty-five years. Whatever questions I had then, I know that God didn’t want me on that plane. He stirred me at 4:30 in the morning to keep me off that plane. I suppose that’s one reason I’ve never worried much about my personal safety.
Since that night, I knew, like Peter in Herod’s jail, that I have an angel assigned to my care. When I miss a plane or a train, when I’m detained for a meeting, I don’t worry. I know God is watching over me, and I’m not going to heaven until He takes me home.
David Grant is co-founder of Project Rescue and author of the new Born To Give.