Every January, I get to produce a very large event in New York City. This past year, about six weeks before the event, I was told that President Barack Obama had been invited to speak and that it was a distinct possibility he would accept the invitation.
So for several weeks, as we prepared for the event, I prayed and daydreamed about what I would say if I was granted 5 seconds, or 30 seconds, with arguably the most influential man in the world.
As the event neared, and the door remained open for him to come, my excitement rose, but with 48 hours remaining before the event, we were informed that he could not attend.
So fast forward to this week… I was catching a flight to DC for another event. Because of an error in booking, I had to take a connecting flight out of Atlanta and was massively delayed because of a freak thunderstorm. It was very frustrating, but during that delay, I got to know the person in the seat next to me.
She was a beautiful woman in her early 30s, very polished and polite, who had jumped on my plane in a last-ditch attempt to reach DC that night. We talked about faith (she was reading a Christian book), and laughed at our shared entrapment in a tin can during a violent storm. About 2 hours into our delay, when we had established a great rapport, I asked her what she did for a living. She already had asked about me and knew I was from Dallas and that my husband was in ministry. To answer my question, she very sheepishly told me she worked for the President’s Administration.
I smiled to encourage her and told her that I pray for our President and how proud I am of what they are doing to serve our country. She seemed relieved and said she was very thankful to hear I supported them in prayer.
She opened up and told me about how she got the job, about prayer meetings they hold to pray for the President and Mrs. Obama, about the difficulty and excitement of the job. It was amazing to hear her heart for serving our country and how she came to work there.
I told her about my thwarted possibility of meeting the President in January and laughed about how I had prayed about what I would say given the chance.
She asked me what I came up with. I told her I had decided I would tell him I was proud he was our President, and that I loved his family, and that as a Believer in Christ I was praying for him.
She told me that she was good friends with the leader of the President’s Faith-Based Initiative and that she wanted to tell him that she had met a Christian from Dallas who supported them and prayed for them. She then asked me if there was any advice I could give them to reach more people like me.
I almost teared up – what a question! I told her that my personal issue – my heartbeat – is for the orphan. About how God is moving people across the church to adopt and care for the orphan in a mighty movement to be Jesus to an entire generation of children who deserve all the love in the world. I told her how the Adoption Tax Credit was a huge benefit to people like us wanting to reach out, and that I feared in all of these budget cuts that the credit would be allowed to expire, or be reduced or even cut out altogether. I told her that in my personal opinion, if they could advocate for that, working with church leaders, that together we could partner to care for “the least of these” and Christians would be able to be Jesus to thousands of kids.
She nodded and very seriously told me she would pass that idea on. As we neared DC, I told her how glad I was to meet her and how I enjoyed talking to her. I committed to pray for her and she sincerely thanked me. The Lord really allowed us to connect and I felt like I was leaving a friend.
That night, as I reached my hotel room, I continued to think about my time with her. I Googled her name and found out, to my great surprise, that she is a VERY senior staff member in the Commerce Department. There are articles written about her all over the internet. I was not just chatting up an intern – as I assumed. I was allowed, I believe by God, almost 6 hours to express my heart to a leader in our nation and a person very close to our President.
That night I laughed as I began to pray. I have so little faith and the Lord continuously surprises me. I had prayed for 5 or 30 seconds with the President, where I’d be nervous and watched by Secret Service, and instead He gave me six hours with a senior member of the President’s staff, where I was totally relaxed and unaware, during a crazy thunderstorm that had trapped us both on the same plane.
I got to advocate for the orphan, and I hope I was able to represent Christ well.
I know many of you disagree with our President, as do I on some major issues. And I know many of you, given the chance, would have said something very different. But I am so grateful for the chance I got to speak my heart to my friend. I believe it was an answer to prayer, and I pray the Lord would use it for His great glory.