Creature Comforts

by Tom Wacaster

In all of my various travels I have had the opportunity to sit in a number of terminals waiting for the connecting flight to my next destination. This includes what we sometimes call “hub” airports. To be more specific, a “hub” airport is one of those large airports where flights from various parts of the country merge in order to pick up the longer flight overseas. Frankfurt, Germany has one of the largest “hub” airports, if not in fact the largest that I have encountered in my travels. If you happen to land and disembark your airplane at one end of the airport in Frankfurt, and your connecting flight is at the opposite end, you need to allow a good twenty to thirty minutes just to walk from one end of that airport to the next. On one occasion I had a connecting flight in Frankfurt on my journey from Chicago to New Deli, India. There was supposed to be a one hour layover in Frankfurt, Germany, thus allowing plenty of time to casually maneuver the concourses to the desired terminal. As it turned out, the flight out of Chicago was delayed because someone got sick just as we were about to take off. After returning to the terminal, unloading passenger and baggage, we were off again, but about 45 minutes behind scheduled departure. We landed in Frankfurt and were told as we left the plane that if we ran we should not have any trouble making the flight. So I, along with about a dozen other passengers wanting to catch the same flight, sprinted through the maze of people in a dead run only to arrive at the departure gate just in time to watch them pull the gate away from the airplane. What we went through for the next couple of hours is the subject for another article.

Other “hubs” include New York Kennedy airport, Atlanta International, London Heathrow, New Delhi, Bombay, and so forth. This trip that I am now on is my first time to fly into the Minneapolis Saint Paul International airport. While this airport is not as large as many of the international departure points, it appears to be quite adequate to handle the traffic. This was my first stop on my way to Manila. It was about a ten minute walk from my arrival gate to the departure gate where I now sit writing the first part of this week’s article. What struck me about this airport is the elaborate creature comforts in this airport that cater to the multitude of travelers on their way to various parts of the country and/or the world. The corridor from gate D6 to G4 is carpeted with a very comfortable, acoustic carpet that not only absorbs sound, but is actually quite comfortable to walk on. There are various shops that beckon the traveler to stop in and browse (with the aim of getting them to spend their money of course). These are not your Ben Franklin 5 and 10 stores, or cut rate department stores like Walmart or Target. These are high class, high price shops, selling upper line brand name clothes, none of which names I recognized (I guess I just don’t shop in those brand names stores that much). It’s sort of like, “if you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it” type shops. I stopped at one just to see how the prices compare with Goodwill (O.K, maybe how they compare with Sears or Penny’s). One shirt, brand name unknown and quickly forgotten, was priced at $98.00. Who in his right mind would pay $98 for a shirt? There was one shop where you could stop, get a quick back massage and rub down if your muscles happen to be knotted up. For a ten minute rub down you will fork out $45. No waiting line, and guaranteed to send you on your way relaxed and refreshed so you can climb aboard that twelve hour flight to Tokyo and experience cramped seats and crowded conditions so that when you arrive you can spend another 250 Yen to repeat the process. In fact, you could finish up that rub down in time to stop at a local ice cream shop and buy one dip of ice cream for $4.95, or eat lunch at 10:00 A.M. at the cuisine hamburger shop: Hamburger, fries and a coke for $14.95.

Some years back I passed a little shop in some airport (the place I have long since forgotten), and the sign out front of the shop offered a one year waranty on all their products. My immediate thought was, “Ok, if the item I purchase breaks, do I have to catch a plane, return to this “hub” airport, bring the item with me for exchange, just to take advantage of your waranty? Like I said, “Who in his right mind?”

I make it a habit to find my gate early so if there are any changes in my flight, I can take care of that before I find a place to stretch out and read or work on my laptop. When I got to my gate I was surprised to find that the waiting area was nothing like the waiting areas at DFW, or New York, or any other waiting area in the various international airports from which I have departed the United States. This waiting area had “booths” to sit in. At each booth you were provided an I-pad to use, at no charge, a table to set your laptop on, a plug-in to charge your depleted batteries, and free access to the internet. Wow! I have never seen anything like it in any airport. Creature comforts extraordinaire. I don’t know if all of these amenities in this particular airport are provided by the airport, the various airlines, the state or a combination of all three.

Now, I’ve said all this to make a point. I have learned that there is a marked contrast between the way we live in America and the way most folks in other parts of the world live. To be sure, there are “westernized” countries that seek to provide these “creature comforts,” but few measure up to what we have accomplished in our country (unless it be the Arabs in such places as Dubai International Airport). Our Lord told us that a “man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things he possesseth” (Luke 12:15). There is great danger in the pursuit of material things. The apostle Paul warned, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led astray from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:10). Airport amenities, shops, and upscale restaurants are only a sample of the extent to which men will go to enjoy the finer things of life. Tragically, the same effort that is put into providing the comforts for the body is missing when it comes to addressing the needs of the spiritual man. I have never seen a chapel in an international airport; I’m not saying there are none; I’m just saying I have never seen one. I have perused the shelves of the airport book stores and never—I repeat never—seen Bibles, commentaries, tracts, or audio books or DVD’s that address the inner man and matters concerning death and the hereafter from the Biblical standpoint. It may be that airport authorities and/or merchants don’t think it would be good to have material that deals with death and dying in an airport; for obvious reasons. I seldom am able to get the person sitting next to me to discuss spiritual matters, though I have tried on occasions when an English speaking passenger sits next to me on an airplane. I would like to think that more people are interested in their soul than my success rate of evangelism in airports might indicate. Or, it might be that the “many” of which our Lord spoke in Matthew 7:20-21 are less concerned about their soul than they are about their “creature comforts.” And that, beloved, is truly sad.

On The Road Again

by Tom Wacaster

Editor’s note: In a little less than five days I will be leaving for Manila, Philippines, and then on to India for my first mission trip of 2014. This will be my first to journey to the Philippines, and I look forward to experiencing the culture of that part of the world and preaching in that country. Following five days work in the Philippines I will head for Kakinada, India and then on to Bangalore for seven days work with the brethren there. I beseech your prayers for a safe journey and a profitable one for the Lord’s cause. I wrote the following article about ten years ago on one of those occasions when it was time for me to make one of my mission trips for that year. That will help you understand some of the references I make to dates and places.


Some years ago famed country and western singer Willie Nelson produced a hit entitled, “On The Road Again.” A portion of that song contained the following words: “On the road again, Goin’ places that I’ve never been; Seein’ things that I may never see again. And I can’t wait to get on the road again.” Of course Willie Nelson had a certain country nasal twang that gave his song a unique sound as well as a unique message.

It has been a little over four years since I decided to go into mission work “full time.” Between May of 2004 and the present I have logged more than half a million air miles traveling to Russia, India, Ethiopia, Mexico, not counting trips stateside in raising funds for the work. I have added more than 150,000 miles to my automobiles, and stayed in so many motels and hotels here in America and abroad that I have thought about buying stock in the hotel business. Sometimes the road becomes weary, and each mile seems like a hundred. But in the back of my mind I know that every mile traveled not only brings me closer to my intended destination for that particular journey, but one step closer to my eternal home when this life is over. This coming Monday (August 11th) I will leave for India, followed by a trip to Ethiopia. But before I go, let me share with you why “I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

First, when I am on the road I am reminded of what it means to be a sojourner and pilgrim. Peter wrote, “Beloved, I beseech you as sojourners and pilgrims, to abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pet. 2:11). The “fleshly lusts” impede our progress toward our destination and “war against the soul.” I have learned over the years that I don’t need to “carry” so much “stuff” with me when I travel. I was checking in at DFW for my most recent trip to Russia. Just ahead of me was a couple who were on their way to England. Each of them had three bags to check in and two to carry on - and that did not include his briefcase and her purse - twelve pieces of luggage in all! Jesus warned us of the thorns that will choke out our effectiveness and encumber our journey. Brethren, don’t get bogged down with the mad rush for material abundance. Remember, our Lord warned us, “A man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth” (Lk. 12:15).

Second, when I am on the road my various travels remind me of what it means to be a good steward of the time God gives us each and every day of our life. I think it was Benjamin Franklin who said that “Time is the stuff that life is made of.” I never cease to be amazed at how much time we American’s waste. With the advent of television, and now the “internet,” productivity and output in the workplace has suffered immensely. We have developed labor saving devices only to squander the extra time on worldly pleasures, week-end trips, and wasteful endeavors. Attendance at church has suffered, gospel meetings are poorly supported, and mid-week services typically show a great drop in numbers. Many of our brethren in India, Africa, and Ethiopia do not have the “extra” time we enjoy because of our labor saving devices. But my impression is that many of those who have less time utilize what time they do have in an expedient fashion that would put many of us to shame.

Third, because of my world travels I have come to appreciate the world wide nature of our Lord’s church. The church of Christ is not an American church. It is not an India church, or a Russian church. It is universal in its scope. The Jews had to learn the hard way that our God is no respecter of persons. Jew and Gentile alike were recipients of the gospel. Brethren, the church of Christ was not established for white, middle class Americans. When I travel abroad, as soon as I walk into a building with brothers and sisters in Christ there is an immediate bond that we have in common. It makes no difference the size of the building, or whether it be made of concrete, sticks with a thatch roof, or an elaborate building the likes of which are unheard of by many brethren in other parts of the world; it is the people who make up the church.

Fourth, when I am on the road I am aware of the distinct possibility that I am going places that I “may never see again.” Life is transient, like a “vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (Jas. 4:14). Tomorrow’s trip to India may be my last; opportunities to teach in Russia may be nothing more than a closed door and a past memory in an instant. With every trip I am cognizant that the flight that I am presently on could very well be my last.

Finally, when I am on the road I am reminded what it means to be separated from those whom I love. My wife does not travel with me on these trips, and when I am away from home my heart is always hundreds if not thousands of miles from where I might be laboring in the Lord’s kingdom. But in the back of my mind I am confident that I will be rejoined to my family, Lord willing, and once again look upon the faces of those who are the nearest and dearest to me in this life. There is coming a day when those “separations” will be of a longer duration, for when death comes to take one of our loved ones our lives will be empty and void of the smiles, hugs and handshakes we shared with those who have gone on before. But we know that this “separation” will only be for a while, and when the Lord comes again, those who died in the Lord and those presently living in the Lord will be called up to join the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with Him throughout eternity. That, my friends, will be the ultimate road trip with the destination final and permanent. Someone captured these very sentiments in one of the verses of the song, “God’s Family.”

And tho’ some go before us,
We’ll all meet again,
Just inside the city,
As we enter in;
There’ll be no more parting,
With Jesus we’ll be,
Together forever,
God’s family

That will be a wonderful day, for nevermore shall we roam, and we won’t have to be “on the road again.”