God’s Amazing Plans
We have funny stories about geckos falling into soup pots or dad mixing up Thai words during his sermons.
We have adventure stories, like when our truck got stuck in the mud on our way back from visiting one of the Hill tribes… Or when my dad barely managed to evade night robbers when he was driving home on his motorbike.
And then, there are the amazing stories of how God revealed himself to Thai people in our community so that they would give their lives to him.
7 Minute Read
By Harmony Niphakis
It All Started with a Snow Storm
But there is one particular family story that I have held onto lately. It’s a story that has brought me surprising contentment in singleness. Ironically, it’s a love story! It takes place before I was born, before my parents moved to Thailand.
This is the story of how my mother, an American from small-town New Jersey, met my father, a Greek who was born in Egypt and raised in Canada.
My mom was a nursing student in New York at the time. Since her little sister was performing in the high school play, my mom decided she would fly home to New Jersey as a surprise.
The morning she left for the airport, the snowfall began.
Perhaps the poor road conditions should have given her warning enough, but by the time she reached the airport, all flights had been canceled due to weather.
The unexpected snow storm that April kept my mom and many other travelers snowed-in at the airport for 3 days.
Yet, in the midst of inconvenience and what might have been disappointment, my mom felt peace. She used the opportunity to get to know other passengers, to play with bored kids, and to wonder at the majestic storm outside. And this peace remained, even until the last day when she realized she would not be able to go home. My mom wrote every detail of the day in her wedding book in 1975:
“The following day the storm continued and my flights were cancelled and in no way could I make it home to see Sally. I was joyful however- it was God’s will- and then I met this curly haired young man at the ticket counter… I said “Hi!, and somehow we got to talking about being snowed in and we discovered that we’d both been at the airport since Thursday and had never run into each other. We started walking and talking and he asked me to have lunch with him.
I made up some excuse not to. I didn’t want to accept lunch from a stranger. But then he asked what I was reading.
I said, “It’s the Way, have you read it?”
He said, “I noticed your cross… are you a Christian?”
My eyes lit up, “Yes…are you?”
He said, “Yes I am!”
I beamed, “Come on, I’ll have lunch with you.”
From that moment for 9 hours till I got a ride home, we shared our faith and our growth, we walked through snow drifts up to our thighs to say hi to the parking lot booth man, talked about marriage to Christian people and (about) going to Greece.
The sun came out and the blizzard stopped. Suddenly my ride was here and he quickly gave me his name, address, and phone number on the back of a blank check.
The parting was sudden after nine hours of closeness, a closeness which came because we both knew the Lord- we were one in Christ Jesus. When we walked and talked we looked as if we’d known each other for years.
All the way home Steve occupied my mind- and every day. I didn’t know if I’d ever see him again, but every night I prayed for him. And in 3 ½ weeks I wrote him 5 letters. I didn’t know why really, because I had intended to remain single. I was afraid a man would interfere with my relationship with God- and yet when I had been with Steve those 9 hours my faith had grown.
(I found out later that the night before Steve met me he had prayed to God to lead him to a Christian woman to take as a wife. When he spotted me at the airport wearing my cross he thought, “That would be a good person to witness to because frequently people wear crosses and know nothing about Jesus Christ.” So he followed me and we met.)”
God Has a Plan
Because of a mail strike in Canada, my dad received all 5 letters on the same day. He called her up immediately and asked if he could visit her in New York. When she gave permission, my dad drove down to New York from Montreal and after a lovely day together, he proposed. And she said yes!
My parents served as missionaries with OMF for 17 years in Thailand where they raised all 4 of us kids.
They celebrated their 43rd anniversary this year.
Relief…that’s what I feel when I am reminded of this story.
Sometimes, as a single, there is pressure to search for a husband with as much intentionality and urgency as developing a career.
Can you identify? Out of concern, family and friends remind you that you need to “put yourself out there”. And then the onslaught of recommendations begins:
- Have you tried online dating?
- You should switch from a women’s to a co-ed Bible Study.
- Do you want me to set you up with someone?
- You should try speed dating!
- What are your thoughts on an arranged marriage? (Only slightly joking on this one.)
Honestly, I’m not bothered by the comments and questions in themselves. But the frequency and urgency of these responses communicate to me that my singleness is a problem that needs to be fixed.
Are you familiar with the exhaustion of the search? Searching for a “soul-mate” suddenly becomes a part-time job that brings insecurity whenever your efforts don’t produce results.
In discouragement, we might think, “I need to put in a greater effort, I need to search harder, I need to look more desirable, I need to lower my standards, I need to pray more sincerely…”
What a perfect storm Satan creates to lead us to:
- Rely on ourselves
- Fill us with insecurity
- Remove our focus from seeking other significant relationships (like friendship and mentorship)
- Distract us from the ministry God has called us to.
We Can Trust God with Our Lives
I know that I can trust God with the arrangements: The chances of my parents meeting were so slim. Two individuals from different countries, meeting in a state where neither of them was from, traveling on the same day, surprised by a freak spring snowstorm, and out of thousands of passengers waiting in that airport, my parents happened to meet?
I can only attribute it all to God, which is why I can trust God with my relationship status.
I do believe that God cares for me and that He has a good plan for my life (Jeremiah 29:11).
I have decided to give my singleness to God. If he wants to change it, then I will let him make the arrangements. I know from my parents’ experience that distance and time is no barrier for God.
In the meantime, I get to fully engage with the relationships and ministry that are already right in front of me. What a joy it is to spend time with family and friends. What a privilege it is to allow God to use me in ministry.
I have experienced such freedom surrendering this area of my life to God and appreciating the joys of singleness while trusting that God has good plans for my future. If God does have someone intended for me, I find comfort knowing that such a man will find me seeking God’s call for my life first and foremost.
Harmony Niphakis spent her early years as an OMF Missionary Kid in Thailand. She committed her life to God at a young age and now serves as a TCK Advocate with OMF (U.S.) where she finds great joy in equipping and caring for missionary kids of all ages. In her spare time, Harmony enjoys being out in nature, gardening, going out for coffee, and spending time with her family.