Jim's Blog: Observations and Perspectives

Gospel Hero of Hijacked Flight 961

Being Instant In Season and Out of Season

Being ready to testify for Christ is something we should be ready to do, even at a moment’s notice. Who knows when we might be called to a sudden and catastrophic event? How many people on German Wings Flight 9525 were ready and prepared for the sudden end that came upon them?

Titanics_Last_HeroThe story of the Titanic’s last hero is well known. John Harper was a passenger on board the luxury liner who loved Jesus and knew the fear of the Lord. He was also ready to depart this life at a moment’s notice. He gave up his life vest to another passenger floundering in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. And he urged his fellow strugglers, who were battling the waves, to call upon the name of the Lord. Even in those moments, the gospel call was going out! The story is told in the book, The Titanic’s Last Hero, by Moody Adams.

At over 20,000 feet…

Image from http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/

A similar incident came to my attention earlier. A news and prayer update from Franklin Graham of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association recounts an incident from 1996 when three hijackers seized control of an Ethiopian Airlines flight, attempting to force the pilots to fly to Australia, notwithstanding the fact that the aircraft, a Boeing 767, had fuel only enough for not more than one or two thousand miles. With the fuel now all depleted, the aircraft rapidly lost altitude and glided for between thirty and forty miles. Guided skilfully to an emergency water landing by the captain, Leul Abate, an experienced pilot, the plane came down smoothly at 200 miles per hour, but cartwheeled when one of its engine pods snagged a submerged coral reef off the Comoros Islands. Of the 175 people on board, 125 perished, many of then drowning as they were unable to exit the submerged plane wearing inflated life-jackets.

A Call at the Brink of Eternity

But just before their exit from this world to the next, they heard the wonderful old story of God’s love and grace, recounted urgently to them by a Kenya-based missionary, Andy Meakins, a passenger on the plane. Let Franklin Graham take up the story:

Andy Meakins was a gentle giant of the faith, an Englishman who loved Jesus Christ and served Him in Africa for many years. In 1996 an Ethiopian Airlines flight was hijacked and crashed into the ocean just off the Comoros Islands after running out of fuel—you may have heard the story. The dramatic moment of impact was caught on home video and broadcast around the world. Only later did we learn of something even more dramatic happening in the cabin as the plane headed for disaster.

Andy Meakins and his wife were on that plane, seated together. The hijackers demanded to be flown to Australia even though there wasn’t nearly enough fuel for that distance. As they neared the Comoros Islands in the Indian Ocean, one engine flamed out, and the pilot told passengers that the remaining engine would soon run out of fuel as well. Immediately, Andy’s wife heard the snap of a seatbelt being unbuckled and turned to see her husband stand up.

“Many of us might die in this crash,” he called out, “so there’s something you need to know.” Andy then began explaining the Gospel simply and urgently, moving to each part of the cabin so that everyone would hear. He invited people to place their trust in Jesus Christ in repentance and faith. A flight attendant heard Andy’s words, bowed her head, and asked Jesus to forgive her sins and come into her heart. She watched many more respond and, along with another survivor, later told the story. Of the 175 people on board, 125 died, including Andy, who was still on his feet preaching the Gospel as the plane hit the water.

Source Citation

I appreciate Franklin Graham’s recounting of this incident of a man ready to bear testimony just moments before the end of life. I had never heard of it. What a way to go! It illustrates powerfully how the Lord may call us to an instant and urgent task. Are we walking with Him and ready to do serve Him in ways such as this?


You can view an eight minute video summary of the facts of the incident in the History Channel YouTube video below.

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