Kansas City Man Experiences the Drive of His Life

By   •   July 11, 2018

chaplains praying in a circle with officers
Chaplains pray with officers in Kansas City after two deputies were tragically killed by an inmate on June 15.

She needed to make this flight.

But with the highway shut down in the early morning hours, there was nothing crisis-trained chaplain Cherie could do to arrive at the airport sooner.

Trusting God, Cherie reminded herself that “the enemy will distract”—especially while on mission. A member of the Billy Graham Rapid Response Team (RRT), she was headed to comfort those hurting in Kansas City, where two deputies were tragically killed by an inmate in mid-June.

Hours later, she flew on a rescheduled flight to Kansas City and was told to look for vehicle 1218 to take her to a hotel.

The driver pulled up—a kind Ethiopian man named Ananeia—and helped her settle into the van. As Ananeia drove, he asked the chaplain why she was in town, giving Cherie the opportunity to share with him about the RRT and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA).

Familiar with the Billy Graham Library, his face lit up. Ananeia had just been to Charlotte, North Carolina—where BGEA is headquartered—with his sister the weekend before.

While in the city for a wedding, his sister had toured the Billy Graham Library. Ananeia sheepishly admitted he hadn’t made time to go, commenting, “I’m not a good enough Christian.”

Although he grew up Catholic, over the years he’d fallen out of the habit of attending church. He told Cherie this was mostly because he’d been confused by the Christians he’d met. Some were all in for God, others would pick parts of the Bible to believe in and then there were those who claimed to be Christians but didn’t live like it.

Feeling empty inside, Ananeia sought answers from Cherie on how to grow closer to God. Ironically, no matter how well he knew the roads of Kansas City, he didn’t know where to turn for help with life.

She shared the Gospel with him, saying, “The gift is free. The price is paid.”

Hearing words of hope, he started to tear up and slipped on his sunglasses.

After arriving at the hotel, they stepped outside the van and Cherie shared a booklet called Steps to Peace with God. Ananeia decided to pray to receive Christ.

“He was touched by the simplicity of what Jesus did for him,” Cherie said, adding how Ananeia was surprised he didn’t need to clean up before coming to God.

Before Cherie went inside her hotel, Ananeia helped with her bags and said, “This has been a really interesting ride.”

Looking back on the deployment and missed flight, Cherie realizes how God was at work throughout it all—even in an area suffering from tragedy.

“God is still present. He’s on top of this and goes before us,” she said.

But it’s up to us to fulfill the mission God has at hand.

“Notice the one right in front of us. Slow down,” Cherie said. “Sometimes we get so into our day-to-day [lives] we miss our goal in Christ. The delays led to something greater—nothing was lost.”

A plane and a few hours may have been missed, but new life in Christ was found.

chaplain embraces woman
In this photo, Cherie shares a heartfelt embrace at the Kansas City memorial site. After Cherie had a life-changing discussion with the driver, her friend shared John 12:18 with her. This verse reference not only aligned with Ananeia’s vehicle number, but also reflected what had just been done in his life. Now he can welcome others into the city and share the hope of the resurrection of Christ with them too.