Thursday, January 11, 2007

My visa situation: every prayer request granted and more

(I am writing this in the car on the way to the airport.)

THANK YOU FOR PRAYING about my visa and passport situation. This blog is a praise report.

As I mentioned in a blog earlier this week, I was detained at Heathrow (London) airport last Tuesday (Jan 2) for not having a suitable visa. After seven hours of interviews and waiting, I was allowed into the country by the skin of my teeth. It was so borderline believe it was your prayers that tipped the scales in my favour.

The same afternoon I was granted entry, and with not an hour to spare, I went to the London passport office and submitted an in-person application for a British Overseas Citizen passport. (I had booked my appointment from the States a few days before.) It sounds great, but a BOC passport provides no visa, and is not really citizenship; it is little more than a travel document. As such, it is valuable nonetheless, and I needed one now to get into Brazil. (As a Canadian, I would need a visa, and it was too late to apply for one now. With a British passport, a visa was instant.)

The BOC passport application process was to take a guaranteed seven days or less, but because of the complex nature of my case, they needed two more days. This would be one day too late for my trip with George, and the $3,000 ticket booked for me was unchangeable and 100 percent non-refundable. On top of that, not being able to go to South America with George would be a huge inconvenience to George, to me and to others. Not to mention the expense; I would have to buy another ticket to Ottawa (Canada) to get a visa. Who knows how long that would take.

The glimmer of hope in all of this was being told by someone at the passport office, when I called last week, that they could send me my Canadian passport (which was in for processing to get the BOC passport) one day early. So theoretically it would arrive today, just in time.

Because it was so close to the wire, and because of the major problems that would result if it didn't come in time, I asked you to pray that I would indeed get the Canadian passport in time. (And then the BOC passport, which I would need to get into Brazil, would be express-shipped to me in Argentina.)

News: on Tuesday I called the passport office to ask if my Canadian passport had been shipped yet. (It takes one day in transit, so I was calling a day 'early' to be on the safe side). "No," and my BOC passport hadn't been issued yet. "Call back in the morning."

The next morning (yesterday), feeling the pressure, I called back. The direct phone number I had used just days before no longer worked, so I had to call the general enquiries line. I was at the mercy of whoever picked up the phone. After getting routed to the right office and waiting a very unreassuringly-long time, I finally got through to the right department. I was disheartened to find that the guy who had promised to send my Canadian passport to me early wasn't there. He hadn't even put a note in my file. Thankfully, though, the guy on the phone *now* was the supervisor--he had authority--and he was also a very nice fellow. "I will put both passports in the mail to arrive tomorrow by Special Delivery - guaranteed by 9am," he said. Both passports! He was referring to my Canadian passport and the British passport he was just about to process. This was very good news. But until at least one of the passports was in my hand, prayer was still much needed.

(As I write this, I have just arrived at the airport.)

I started waiting for the postman around 8am, knowing I would have to sign for it. The clock kept ticking. 8:45, nothing. 9:00, still nothing. By 9:30, nothing had arrived, so I called customer service and finally got someone. "The passport office selected the before-1pm service, Mr. Barham, not the before-9am service."

This was not good. We were scheduled to leave for the airport at noon to catch our 4:16pm flight. I texted George to tell him the latest. "Wow praying," he wrote back.

The postman arrived around 10:30. The package from the passport office was there, at the bottom of the pile. I ripped it open and there were my two passports. Praise the Lord!

But wait, the story doesn't end there. It gets better. ... Can you imagine my amazement when I opened my new British passport and, instead of saying "British Overseas Citizen" it said...

"British Citizen"

Wow: I had been granted full British citizenship!

I stood stunned; this was a big thing. Now I wouldn't have to get a visa! I wouldn't have to go to the British embassy in Argentina. I wouldn't have to buy another expensive flight - to Ottawa. I wouldn't have to skip a beat with George. I would never have to get another visa to the UK again; I could live here with full rights - even live and work in other European Union countries.

Now read again my prayer requests in the post below.

Then agree with me in thanks to God that this is an answer to prayer "exceedingly abundantly more than all you could ask or imagine."

(I just got on the plane.)

Last time I entered the UK I was detained for seven hours. Perhaps, next time, they'll greet me with a "Welcome home."

In the same way, those of us who love the Lord have been granted instant access to citizenship in Heaven. We didn't get it because we did anything special. We didn't get it because we deserved it. We got it because God is our father. We just inherited it "by descent." And guess what He'll say when we arrive?

You guessed it:

"Welcome home."

(The plane is just about to take off.)

Glory to God.


Sent from my mobile phone.

ar TORONTO, CANADA | 2023+



27 Sat (1) 11am Commencement speaker at R. University, (2) ~3pm+ time w/ V/AR+
29 Mon (1) 9:30am VT prayer, (2) 3pm mtg DerCh - Mississauga
30 Tue (1) 10am ph call (AA), (2) 5:30pm video mtg (IsTan), (3) 8pm neighbourhood prayer mtg

1 Thu (1) 11:30am Zoom mtg (LM), (2) 4pm mtg (VS,KBr)
2 Fri (1) 10:30am ph call (PVDW; SL w/ boys; ~J working)
3 Sat SL w/ boys and MG
5 Mon (1) 9:30am VT prayer mtg, (2) 2pm Europe call, (3) 5pm mtg/walk (YM)
6 Tue (1) 11:30am lunch (GD) - St. Jacobs, (2) 4pm mtg (AF) - Cambridge, (3) 7:30pm worship night
9 Fri ~J's b'day
10 Sat North Bay trip
13 Tue 11am mtg (DAy) (~J school trip w/ ~Co | text BD)
14 Wed 9:30am time w/ BD
15 Thu 4:30pm video mtg (Paul T.)
16 Fri (1) 9am video med appt, (2) 15-km run (Prayer Journey "warm-up")
17 Sat Prayer Journey (my own: 50km GTA bike-ride; Jessie's: 5KM) and speaking at GTA after-party
23-25 Fri-Sat poss. SL
26 Mon 2pm Europe monthly call
29 ... July 7 Thu-Fri poss. holiday in Arkansas

... 7 Thu-Fri poss. holiday in Arkansas
~8-17 SA+ in Toronto; P/H Bell likely visiting too
15 Sat aft+ baptism (Saj; NaB may be coming)
17-21 Mon-Fri Kids Kapers camp
24 Mon 2:45pm med. appt
26 Wed (1) 11am video mtg (SM), (2) 3pm Zoom mtg (SMa,SB), (3) 7pm ~J speaking at Greenhouse/Zoe - UofT downtown
27 Thu 10am video MVT board mtg
31 Mon 3:05pm med. appt
July/Aug CCWM board mtg / AGM

2 Wed 11am video mtg (SM+)
6-12 Sun-Fri Cottage w/ O/DN+ and UB/AC - Windermere; plus Muskoka
19 Sat poss. ~J fam beach day - Brighton area
25-29 Fri-Tue MoveIn staff retreat - southern Ontario

Sep 21 Thu - MVT board mtg
Sep 23 Sat poss. date of GV memorial
Sep 24 Sun ~Ch's b'day
Sep ~26-28 Poss. time in Lushnjë, Albania
Sep 29 - Oct 6 MoveIn Europe Conference+ - Durrës, Albania
Oct 21 Sat poss./unlikely date of GV memorial
Oct 21-27 Dollar-a-Day week
Early Nov Poss. fundraising event - Niagara
Nov-Jan Poss. time in India - Goa; Philippines - Manila+; Indonesia - Jakarta/Bali; LA/San Diego