Sometimes, when sitting in the close quarters of an airplane cabin, it is difficult not to glance over and see what the person next to you is typing on his or her phone. As it happens, Adam W. Greenway noticed that the woman sitting next to him on a flight last spring was typing a text message about filing for divorce. 

Greenway struck up a conversation with the woman, and in the course of making small talk, the woman shared that she was looking for a “reset” in life. As they continued, Greenway learned that the woman had children in Fort Worth, and so they spoke about the area and eventually narrowed down the conversation topic to what she was living for. She answered that she was essentially living for her children and grandchildren. 

Greenway asked her if she had any spiritual beliefs, then began discussing God’s plan and design for life. He concluded with a presentation of the Gospel.  

Before he could finish, the woman asked, “Are you a counselor?” 

Having recently been elected president of The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Greenway answered, “Well, in a sense.” 

“She had kind of a nominal church background,” Greenway says, “but it was clear that there really had never been a serious encounter with the Gospel of Christ. And so I witnessed to her.” 

The woman did not respond by professing faith in Christ, but she did express the desire to follow up on their conversation, and so Greenway gave her some of his social media contact information. 

A few days later, the woman wrote him a message on one of these social media channels, explaining that she had been reflecting on their plane-ride conversation. She then shared her belief that their sitting next to one another was not an accident, but rather a God-ordained event. 

For Greenway, this experience evoked a particular New Testament teaching: “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth” (1 Corinthians 3:6). 

“All of us want to drive 100 yards to take the ball all the way down the field. That just doesn’t happen that often,” Greenway says. 

“On one hand, if we end up leading somebody to faith in Christ, we may have thought we were starting in the opposite end zone, [but] we may have been starting on the 20, in the red zone. We were building upon work others had done; we just didn’t realize it. 

“On the flip side, when we have a conversation with someone and they don’t pray to receive Christ, we sometimes think we’ve failed. Well, we may have actually advanced the ball down the field significantly.” 

Greenway explains that this woman, in particular, “is going to be in a different position the next conversation she has with somebody the Lord puts in her path than she was when we were on the plane together having a conversation.”

“You never know how the Lord can use you and whom He is putting in your path,” he concludes. “And I’ve learned to give God the benefit of the doubt on that and to be willing to engage in that kind of conversation.”