Ratna was brushing her teeth, preparing for work. Her little girls, ages 9 and 4, were still sleeping, and her husband would soon wake up to drive her to work.
Suddenly she heard something like thunder. The Samuel family lived in Kuwait where they never heard thunder. In fact, they never heard any scary noises. It was a safe place to live.
At work that day, Ratna, a nurse, noticed something strange. The patients were all talking in whispers in the corner. At first she didn’t pay attention. Then she asked, “What’s going on today? Why are people whispering?”
“Iraq is here” someone said.
It was August 2, 1990. Iraq had just invaded Kuwait.
Kuwait was a tiny, wealthy country. Many people from India came to live and work there. The Samuels had a good life—Pushparaj, Ratna, and their little girls Veena and Tina. But things had changed. At 2:00 a.m. that morning, Iraq had come with their tanks and army.
The next few weeks were frightening. Pushparaj continued to go to work. While he and other men worked, the women and children would stay together during the night to be safe.
Tina remembers when they were home alone without their dad. There were tanks on the street outside and they could hear shooting. Ratna was praying and praying. Then someone started banging on the door! Whoever was banging was trying to get in! They kept praying. Soon they realized it was Pushparaj, not soldiers. It was scary!
They decided they needed to go back to India. They tried to drive, but soldiers stopped them. They tried two more times. Again, they were stopped.
Then the Indian government stepped in to help. They were bringing planes in to fly people out. The Samuels were told they could bring 15 pounds of luggage (think how many suitcases your family takes on vacation—usually 40-50 pounds each!) So into a small black carry-on bag went their money, important papers, photos, food for the girls, and gold.
There were supposed to be several planes, but only one showed up for all the people. In order to make room for everyone they told the people to leave their luggage behind.
Ratna forgot the important things in the little black suitcase and left it on the airport runway. With minutes to go before the plane took off, she realized her mistake. She quickly sent Pushparaj racing off plane to the piles of luggage for that precious bag. But he got the wrong one.
Ratna sat on the plane and cried. “How can we go home with nothing, Jesus?” she prayed.
One hour into the flight, the pilot announced a problem. He turned the plane around and headed back to Kuwait! Jesus had answered Ratna’s prayer!
When they arrived, all the luggage was safe. More planes had arrived. Not only did they have their black bag, but everyone else had their luggage too.
A year later, the Samuel family returned to Kuwait. It was safe again. They stayed there several more years. Then they moved to the United States. Veena and Tina now have children of their own.
They never forgot the story of when God turned the plane around. It is a reminder that God loves us very much. He keeps us safe.
—This was adapted from an article by Wilona Karimabadi in the March 2017 Adventist Review, on pp. 40-42.
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