“Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” (Acts 12:5)
It was March 2018 and I was preparing for our Kenya missions trip. I went to see my travel doctor, as I had on my two previous trips to Kenya, for any required vaccinations. For the first time the doctor asked me if my travel insurance was up to date. I said I thought so. He mentioned that another missionary about my age had traveled to Ethiopia and died there and needed to be transported home! I wondered why he told me this story, as I already had some misgivings about this trip, yet had decided to go after being repeatedly asked to accompany the team. There would be a team of 12 of us going, led by Pastor Gerald Krebs and his wife. Also my son, Thomas, was to accompany us and represent the Gideons, who had printed the Hope magazine in both English and Swahili for us to give to our local brethren there. I thought this a great opportunity to spread the Good News with the team and, if needed, I could always lean on them. How little did I know how much I would need to lean on them and on the prayers of many other saints!
The flights from Toronto, Canada to Nairobi, Kenya starting on March 12 were uneventful but long. Travel time to Nairobi was over 20 hours! Arriving in the capital city of Kenya, we were greeted by a number of our dear brethren who had come to meet us and take us further to their villages. Soon we were off in crowded vehicles to our new home base some three hours northeast of Nairobi. As we settled into our motel rooms, we began to plan our daily mission trips. One of the first activities I enjoyed participating in was taking the new Hope magazine to the streets. How the locals enjoyed receiving these beautifully printed magazines with pictures from Kenya and filled with Scripture! Some were prayed for and all were invited to attend our church services.
After our brief street mission, plans were made for us to divide into groups and visit the different churches. The Church of God movement had been growing and reaching many new communities over the years. Praise God for adding to His church and blessing the ministry in Kenya. In typical fashion, I traveled in a van filled with many other travelers to reach a more remote church. It was hot and most of the roads were very bumpy. After a long strenuous journey, we began with a time of singing and fellowship, followed by the preaching of God’s Word. With the sharing of a meal the day was soon gone and we returned to our home base for supper. This would again repeat itself the next day.
This was my third trip to Kenya and I should have realized I needed more time to rest and settle in before embarking on strenuous mission day trips. As the days wore on, I became weaker and was unable to eat much food. My sleep was not satisfying and one morning I awoke not rested. After getting up, I noticed that something with my heart had changed. It seemed to be more stressed and this sensation would not go away. By the end of the day I felt much weaker. A sister who had joined us on the trip was a nurse and she measured my blood pressure that evening. It was very high and I was taken to a local health clinic with limited services. I was given some medication to lower my blood pressure. The next night, now being even weaker and almost unable to eat, I remember walking toward the washroom and awakening on the floor. I had collapsed and that morning our nurse measured my blood pressure again. It had seen a severe drop.
At this point, I was spending most of my time in bed and was so weak that after walking around the motel, all I wanted was to lie down again. Brother G. Krebs consulted with a doctor friend in Edmonton, Alberta and after some deliberation, decided it was best if I returned home as soon as possible. At this time my son was with the Gideon’s team distributing Scriptures in another part of Kenya. He was contacted to come and escort me home.
The next day, Thomas came to travel with me and changed our flights to fly back on Tuesday, March 20th. After three hours of driving, we arrived back in Nairobi and stayed overnight in a hotel. Again I was exhausted and wondered how I would survive the trip home. The next morning, we took a taxi to the airport and Thomas witnessed to the driver of Jesus and His saving grace. The taxi driver stated he also was a Christian and Thomas said he hoped to see him in heaven one day. Once in the airport, we had to walk a long way to our gate. Although my son carried all my bags, the walk through the large airport and checks at the gate were exhausting to me. I was thankful that Thomas kept reminding me to drink and supplied me with water and juice to strengthen me.
Once on the flight, I wondered how I would be able to sit more or less upright in an economy seat for the 9 hour flight to London, England, as I just wanted to lie down. I was unable to rest much during this flight. I learned from Thomas that my family and many of the dear saints were praying for me. I could only rest in the assurance, that although I was almost too weak to pray, others were carrying me on the wings of prayer.
After a long travel day, we arrived in London. Again I faced a large airport where we had to transfer from one terminal to another to find our gate. I asked that we stop and Thomas went to find me something to eat to strengthen me as I sat and waited. We continued on through this massive airport, finally arriving at our gate. I thought maybe we could upgrade our seats so I could lie down on the home flight. Then I heard the announcement that the flight was full and my hopes seemed dashed. We got into the boarding line, where I held onto the posts lining the route to keep from swaying. In my heart I thought this final flight was not going to end well for me.
As we got to the front counter and showed the attendant our tickets, we were surprised to hear; “Harry and Thomas Klinger, we have new tickets for you.” New tickets, when none were asked for?! She took our tickets and gave us two new ones saying, “These are first class tickets. Please enter the plane and turn to your left.” We were stunned and overjoyed to find two new seats that were spacious and I could recline my seat! What a God-send and life saver. I could only praise God in my heart!
But how did we receive first class tickets on a full flight without even asking? Later we learned that a group of dear sisters had been praying for our safe journey home and that some of them had specifically prayed that we would receive first class tickets to fly home. And God had answered those prayers! What a miracle that gave me the comfort and strength to fly for the last 8 hours from London to Toronto. I arrived home greatly weakened, but by God’s grace a seemingly impossible journey was made possible. Thanks be to God and all who prayed for my safe return home.
My recovery was slow and lasted for weeks. My doctor examined me and said I had faced the perfect storm of events that stressed me to the point where my heart was traumatized and my blood pressure was severely affected. Over the following weeks I slowly regained most of my strength. Praise be to God for the prayers of His saints. Let this be an encouragement for all of us to pray for one another in times of need.
(For a full report of the Kenyan Mission Trip, see the Foundation of Faith report published in July 2018)