many times has something happened that messed up your schedule
causing you to react in fury and anger? Often, right?
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.
those who have made the trek, it is a journey - usually
10-12 hours overland across the desert.
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!
to say, the ticket I got to Baghdad, purchased in New York
in the middle of the Blackout was not kosher!
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
was furious! "I need to get back to Baghdad immediately!"
I persisted to the confused airline counter manager.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
see the Internet Cafe was on the left side, near the front
exactly the part that was no longer!
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.
were not only friends, but family.
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
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.
Ken Joseph Jr., directs Assyrianchristians.com
and brought the first relief truck into Iraq following the
end of the war and continues to work in Iraq to assist those