It is evident that people within the airline workplace are becoming aware that co-workers are hurting around them and that aspects of their job may be changing. The question arises, “How does one minister during such a time?” In response to that question, we have a few thoughts to share that we hope will be a help and encouragement to you and to the many co-workers and passengers that you encounter on a daily basis.
Prayer is the first key response in any time of challenge, tragedy or crisis. The Bible exhorts us to turn to prayer in Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious any anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Prayer not only reaps the great benefit of peace, but it will also display to others our dependence on God during this time. Some practical ideas for the workplace would be hosting open prayer meetings for FCAPers and anyone willing to come; writing notes of encouragement to airline management letting them know that you as an individual and/or your FCAP group is praying for them; and being available at your airport chaple or break rooms to pray with people needing comfort. Many of the encouraging e-mails coming in to FCAP have been about prayer. One came from an airline employee in Houston, “We gathered in front of our headquarters building and lifted up this entire situation to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. There were at least 50 in attendance and the prayer time was awesome.” Another e-mail came from an airline employee in Mexico who hosted a prayer chain, “We have been informed about the things occurring there. We are very sad and more so because it involved aviation and lost lives. We are going to be praying.”
Compassion is another key to ministering to the people around you. In Matthew 9:36, we are told that Jesus had compassion on the crowds that were harassed and helpless. Likewise, there are many harassed, bewildered and downtrodden people in the airline industry. We need to see people in their need during difficult times and respond with compassion toward them. One practical way to show compassion is to look for people that are hurting. In response to the events of 9/11, one flight attendant who was not working as airline travel halted called companies in his home base to find out about crews there were stranded in order to go minister to them. You can write cards of condolence to family members. As an individual or group, show compassion by sending cards to leadership in the airlines, whether that be in response to a tragedy that has occurred or simply to let them know you are praying for them in general. As opportunities permit, share words of encouragement with co-workers and ask if you can pray for them. One pilot shared with us that he has been asking the crews on his flights about how they are feeling. He said that people are obviously affected by fear and are unsure of the future. This is a time to lead by example in putting others first with a servant attitude and in showing compassion to the people around you at work.
Any time there is crisis or unrest, it usually leads to people being more sensitive and open to discussing spiritual things. One reason for this is that during a crisis, people try to make sense of what has or is occurring. Be sensitive to the hearts around you that are hurting and confused. At times of tragedy, many are looking for answers to big questions about life and death. This certainly is not an opportunity to abruptly give pat answers regarding God, but to lovingly listen to the needs of those around you and respond with the hope of the Gospel. 1 Peter 3:15 sys that we should always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope we have. This passage also encourages us to do this with gentleness and respect. One pilot called and shared a reminder that not all people will be interested in hearing about the Lord, but they will respond to compassion shown to them. They will also respond to the amazing hope, faith and peace displayed by Christians in a time of crisis.
Unity displayed among believers as they draw together will speak volumes about Christianity to a watching world. This is a great opportunity to show that there is a community in the workplace whose prime focus is loving the Lord and, in turn, showing that love to co-workers. In John 13:P34, Jesus shared that we are to love one another and by this everyone will know that we are His disciples. Seek out other Christians to encourage. Take time to listen to their concerns. Spend time praying for them. Give them words or notes of encouragement. All of these suggestions can be done in the course of an average work day. Meet together as a FCAP fellowship group to pray and encourage one another. Join together in projects of outreach or service. Begin to pray as a group for co-workers and company leadership. Let them know you are supporting them in prayer.
On the heels of the terrorist attacks that used commercial airplanes as assault weapons, many changes and challenges throughout the airline industry continue to affect thousands of employees worldwide. Employees are also affected by challenging circumstances within their own life involving health, family issues or financial matters. But through it all there is one thing we can be sure of … the author and creator of life never changes. He is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). As we are uniting in prayer, showing compassion to co-workers and being sensitive to the needs of people around us, it will minister to them and it will be a witness of our steadfast God.
We as a staff are praying for you as you minister to the people around you. Please write or call us with prayer requests and share with us how Christians are binding together in the workplace to minister to co-workers and passengers worldwide.
written by Landra Chasteen