Tonight I was reminded of one of those “Sliding Doors” moments in my life. That’s the movie where Gwyneth Paltrow goes down two different paths based on whether or not she makes it into a train car before the doors shut.
The movie switches back and forth between the two alternate scenarios. The key event is whether or not Paltrow makes it back to the apartment she shares with her boyfriend and catches him in bed with another woman.
I went to a church service tonight and sat in the fellowship hall with a table full of African students. They were from all over the continent and all were students at the university where I teach at in this little city in Finland, on the border with Russia.
Finland is a rather homogenous country ethnically, so people of African heritage stand out noticably. It is rare to interact with them.
As I sat at the table, I talked with a girl from Uganda whom I had met previously at another church service. I introduced myself by telling her that I thought we had met before.
As I talked with her, what popped into my mind was a situation from about 30 years ago. It involved her country.
At that time I was involved in a Christian ministry to servicemen. The ministry was run by a parachurch organization.
During my tenure there, I was approached by the local staff person about the possibility of going to Uganda as a missionary trainee. I was very interested in missions at that point in my life and while I never had considered Africa, my ears were open.
However, as I told the Ugandan student tonight, life intervened. During the period I was involved in that military ministry, I fell in love with a Finnish girl.
I had met her the year before on my first visit to Finland. We began writing and things took off after that.
When the staff person that had discussed the Ugandan position with me got wind of my love interest, he wrote me a postcard. He asked,”How’s your love life?” He then added,”There are NO posts for married international trainees, you know.”
And that was that. There was no question in my mind what my decision would be. The following year, I was married.
Life has amazing twists and turns. Had I not met my wife, I may have known a lot more about Africa than the sketchy ideas I had listening to those students tonight talk about their language and history.
Yep. It was a “Sliding Door” moment alright.