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Feb 08, 2024 143 Shaju Chittilappilly
Encounter

SOS Call to Heaven

I am still in awe of Reverend Sebastian’s account of a miraculous escape from deadly danger. Surely you would be too, as I share it here in his own words.

It was the coolest autumn night of October 1987, nearly 3 AM, and I had an hour left before boarding my flight to London. I decided to head to the airport lounge and grab a cup of hot coffee, which helped me shake off my sleepiness. I had taken some medication for a slight fever, but the effect was already wearing off. So, I took another one, and as I boarded the flight, I requested the air hostess, who introduced herself as Anne, for a free row in the middle so that I could get some rest during the long flight. My priestly collar must have touched her because when the seatbelt sign was turned off, Anne approached me and led me three rows back to where four seats were unoccupied. I then arranged the seats like a small couch and settled in.

Disturbing News

My comfortable slumber was broken by the erratic movements of the aircraft. My eyes shot open; the cabin was dimly lit, and most passengers were either asleep or glued to the screens in front of them. I couldn’t help but notice the swift movements of the cabin crew as they hurried along the narrow walkways between the rows of seats.

Assuming that someone was ill and needing assistance, I asked Anne, who was passing by my seat, what was happening. “It’s just turbulence, Father. Everything is under control,” she replied before quickly moving forward. However, her panicked eyes suggested otherwise. Unable to sleep, I walked towards the back of the plane to request a cup of tea. A crew member ordered me to return to my seat but promised to bring me the tea later. I sensed that something was amiss. As I patiently waited for my tea, a male crew member approached me.

“Father Sebastian, there is a fire on one of the engines, and we haven’t been able to contain it yet. We have a full tank of fuel, and we’ve been flying for almost two hours. If the fire reaches the fuel tank, the plane could explode at any time,” he paused before looking me directly in the eyes. My body froze with shock.

“The captain has a special request—please pray for all 298 souls on board and for the fire to be extinguished. Both captains know that we have a priest on board and have requested that I convey this message to you,” he finished.

Taking his hands in mine, I replied: “Please tell the captains to remain courageous, for Jesus and Mother Mary will protect us from this dangerous situation, just like how Jesus saved His disciples from the stormy sea. There is nothing to worry about, and the Holy Spirit will take control of the situation from this point forward. They will be guided wisely by Him.”

I heard a weary voice in front of me asking if the flight was going to explode. It was Sophie, a woman in her late years whom I had met on the plane earlier. She had overheard some of our conversation and had become hysterical. Crew members warned her not to make a scene; she calmed down a bit and sat next to me, confessing her sins to me 30,000 feet high.

Holding On

However, I had great faith in Mother Mary, who had helped me overcome similar situations before. I took my rosary and began to pray, closing my eyes and reciting it with utmost devotion.

Mid-flight, I was informed that the captain was trying to make an emergency landing in a non-busy airport and that we needed to hold on for another seven minutes. Eventually, as the situation was still not under control, the captain informed the passengers to prepare themselves for an emergency landing. John, the crew member who had spoken to me earlier, informed me that the fire had reached gate 6, leaving only one more gate till the engine. I silently kept on praying for the safety of everyone on the flight. As the situation continued without improvement, I closed my eyes and continued praying, finding strength and courage in my faith. When I opened my eyes, the plane had landed safely at the airport, and the passengers were applauding.

Relief at Last!

“My dear friends, this is Rodrigo, your captain from the deck!” He paused for a moment and then continued. “We were in an extremely dangerous situation in the past hours, and we are good now! A special thanks to the Almighty God and Father Sebastian. He was praying for all of us and gave all of us great strength and courage to overcome this situation and…” he paused again, “we did!”

John and Anne walked with me as we were greeted by the crew and dignitaries at the airport terminal. I was told that a replacement aircraft would arrive soon and that all passengers would be transferred to the new plane in an hour.

After the harrowing experience on the flight, I couldn’t help but reflect on the power of prayer and the importance of trusting God in any situation. I remembered the words from Mark 4:35-41, where Jesus calmed a storm on the sea and asked his disciples: “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

As we boarded the new flight, I felt a renewed sense of gratitude for the miraculous escape and a stronger faith in God’s protection.

*****

Father Sebastian has since shared his story with many people and encouraged them to put their trust in God during difficult times. He reminds them that with faith and prayer, they, too, can overcome any storm and find peace in the midst of chaos.

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Shaju Chittilappilly

Shaju Chittilappilly is an IT professional in Austria. He has been closely working with Shalom Ministries for years with his lovely wife and three children.

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