The Miracle!
By Rev. Ken Joseph, Jr.
Amman, Jordan

August 20, 2003

How many times has something happened that messed up your schedule causing you to react in fury and anger? Often, right?

Well, it just happened to me! Having been in and out of Baghdad since February I was supposed to go back to Baghdad on Monday the 18th of August.

For those who have made the trek, it is a journey - usually 10-12 hours overland across the desert.

I was all ready to go, but suddenly encountered problems with my return ticket. As things go, though, on my way to Baghdad I had passed through New York . . . our plane came in in the middle of the electricity blackout!

Needless to say, the ticket I got to Baghdad, purchased in New York in the middle of the Blackout was not kosher!

Upon arriving in Amman, Jordan on the way back to Baghdad, I needed to confirm my return flight. Due to the confusion with the electricity blackout when in New York, I wandered around waiting for our six hour delayed flight and the near riot we experienced at Kennedy Airport my ticket was all messed up.

I was furious! "I need to get back to Baghdad immediately!" I persisted to the confused airline counter manager.

They were doing their best, but due to the New York situation, the time difference and just about everything else that could go wrong, it took until Tuesday, August 19 to get it all sorted out.

I got back to the place I was staying, angry that such a simple thing had delayed me two days back to Baghdad. Still fuming I turned on the TV to see broadcast a sight that I was all together familiar with.

"Why in the world was the UN headquarters, where I was usually working nearly every afternoon when in Baghdad, on the screen?" I thought to myself.

You see, the UN headquarters on Canal Street in Baghdad served not only the UN, but for the expatriate aid workers and just about everyone else.

Our regular schedule when in Baghdad was the daily 10AM briefing at Sadaams Palace by the US Forces, then lunch and straight to the Canal Hotel to check email, get caught up on the news, etc.

The UN headquarters had opened an Internet Cafe for the NGO community, opened up their cafeteria, CNN and served as a place for people to hang out and catch a bit of civilization in the confusion that is Baghdad.

As I watched the scene unfolding before my eyes, I suddenly froze as a chill went up my spine - half of the Canal Street building was gone. Not just any half but the left half the exact place that I would have been at 4:30 had I made it to Baghdad on time!

You see the Internet Cafe was on the left side, near the front exactly the part that was no longer!

As an Assyrian Christian, in particularm, Canal Street was special because many of the Iraqi employees were Assyrian Christians and we all shared the daily prayer that as the original or indigenous people of Iraq we would get our homeland in Northern Iraq back.

They were not only friends, but family.

Then the past hours began to drift in front of me like an old silent movie. The scene in New York without electricity. The scene fighting with airline staff after airline staff trying to get my ticket worked out. The scene of me angry at everybody becaues I couldnt get back to Baghdad in time . . . and then the ice cold feeling at realizing that somehow for whatever reason God has spared me.

How terrible I had been! Mad, screaming at the poor airline staff and yet it had all been a "setup" - God for whatever reason keeping me from going back to certain death.

How many times in our lives do things not work out? Our carefully laid plans destroyed through some strange circumstance. How many times have we fumed and screamed as things didn't work out . . . how many times did God spare us from something we may never know in this life?

As I return to Baghdad to continue to assist the precious people of Iraq, I go with a heavy heart at the dear and precious family I have lost, but also with a deep humility and as it were "second chance."

The next time things don't work out and your plans go crazy, don't be like me, but take a deep breath and, as hard as it is, thank God for whatever reason He stepped in.

The miracle of a "second chance!"

Rev. Ken Joseph Jr.


Rev. Ken Joseph Jr., directs and brought the first relief truck into Iraq following the end of the war and continues to work in Iraq to assist those in need.

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