Updated: Aug 2, 2021
Antonis Mavropoulos, a Greek gentleman missed his flight to Nairobi, Kenya on March 10, 2019 by a few minutes. Little did he know that those few minutes were a bridge between life and death. Antonis, along with a group of United Nations (UN) delegates who would later board Ethiopian Airways flight ET302, were scheduled to attend a UN environmental summit in Nairobi.
He arrived at the boarding gate moments just after the gates had been closed and literally saw the rest of the passengers walk down the tunnel as they proceeded to board the aircraft.
“Poor guy!” many that witnessed this unfortunate incident might have thought.
Disappointed with himself, Antonis could only endure the agony of missing his flight. After several negotiations, he eventually managed to secure a seat on the next flight to Nairobi.
"I was mad because nobody helped me to reach the gate on time," Antonis said in an interview with the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC).
On what would go down as one of the darkest days to ever grace Ethiopian soil, flight ET302 bound for Nairobi plunged into a farm field in the Oromea region of Ethiopia, approximately six (6) minutes after takeoff. 157 people were onboard and all of them perished.
Later that day, security personnel at the airport hindered Antonis from boarding his rescheduled flight to Nairobi so that they could question him on suspicion grounds. Sentiments shared by the security personnel were that Antonis might have had something to do with the crash, as he was one of two people who missed that flight. One can only imagine how infuriated Antonis felt at that point. In all fairness, they had every right to question him because he missed a flight that had suddenly lost contact.
Assuming Antonis was of the Christian faith, he would have probably began lamenting to God, wondering what he had done to deserve all this. During the interrogation process, Antonis was almost losing his temper until one of the airport security staff approached him and asked him to be calm and give thanks to God for not being on the plane that had suddenly lost contact.
"I had a 30 minute connection and my flight arrived on time. My connection ambassador came after I left the plane," Antonis said of the person that was supposed to help him get onto to his connection flight Nairobi.
"He was trying to find me. I would like to say many thanks to this ambassador who saved my life. My luggage was on me and they didn't need to wait for me. I saw the last passengers in the corridor," Antonis further said.
Many a time we get very cross with ourselves and sometimes even blame God for not fulfilling our requests. At times, things may seem completely bound to happen only to come crumbling in the very last minute. Take for instance a vacation resort telling you that they have cancelled your booking due to bad weather or your chauffeur falling ill five minutes before dropping you off at your next appointment or that company rejecting your job application weeks before it would eventually go bankrupt.
What we don’t realise is that God is working things out in the background. He makes things happen at his appointed time. The book of Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a time for everything under the sun. We could take it that those who lost their lives in the Nairobi bound aircraft already fulfilled their God-given missions or assignments in this world. As for Antonis and you reading this right now, it could be that you are still alive today because your God-given assignment in this life has not yet been fulfilled.
Let’s always remember that we are living on borrowed time. Aim to make the best out of everyday and leverage every good opportunity that comes your way. Show love to those around you and never take anything for granted. The UN representatives aboard that fateful aircraft might have spent sleepless nights perfecting their documents and presentations in readiness for the summit. To them, that day was just like any other.
If you have been doubting or reconsidering your faith, take a moment and reflect on this question – If I death took me today, would I spend eternity in heaven or eternity in hell?
However, fear of going to hell should not be the driving force of your salvation. Understanding and believing that Jesus, as the son of God came on earth to take up our sins, defeated death through the resurrection and wants you and me to live by his example, is what should be your conviction. Accepting Jesus as your personal LORD and saviour; denying yourself and taking up his cross; loving the LORD your God with all heart, soul and mind and loving your neighbour as yourself, are what ought to be the driving force of your salvation.
If you are still alive today, best believe that your mission is still unaccomplished. You and I just like Antonis Mavropoulos, still have a mission to accomplish.
BBC News, Ethiopian Airlines: Two men say they missed crashed flight, March 11, 2019