By: Dave Illingworth


It was January, and the weather was very unpredictable. I had a dinner meeting in Orange County in the evening, so I booked an early-morning flight back to California. I left for the airport about 5:00 a.m. It was 21 degrees and a light, swirling snow was falling. By 6:00 a.m. I was checked in and through security. I got a Starbucks coffee, USA Today, and headed for gate B8. I was early. No one from United was behind the check-in counter, and no passengers had yet arrived in the waiting area.


There was a large partition behind the check-in counter. On it were the words “Star Alliance” in white letters and “United” in large blue letters with “B8” on each side. Through the large windows I could see the plane sitting at the gate in a light snowfall.


I walked all the way down to the seat next to the window, ready to drink my coffee and read the paper, when I was startled. Behind the partition was about five feet of open space. A United agent was standing there. He was smartly dressed, about 6’2”, with a slender build. He had a dark complexion, rugged looks, and close-cut black hair with gray starting to show. He was also surprised. He had taken off his shoes and was spreading out white napkins on the floor. He was a Muslim, kneeling down to say his morning prayer.


I had intruded. Embarrassed, I hurriedly picked up my coffee and moved to another seat to give him some privacy. Several minutes later he walked out from behind the partition.  Our eyes met briefly. He seemed to say “thank you”—I nodded. A feeling of warmth and peace rushed over me. I watched him walk down the concourse and out of sight.


The thought crossed my mind…“I wonder what his Allah thinks of me? I wonder what my Jesus thinks of him?”


Psalm 32:6 “Every one of us needs to pray.”  (MSG)