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.

Additional to the below, click the following link for *non-Blogger* Comments:

Plus, 1 *Blogger* Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praise to the Lord indeed. He went over and above what you ever expected him to do.

it is also so wonderful to hear your testimony.


I am in a situation where I need a visa to travel to travel to Spain. One of my best friends is leaving for South Africa for good from the UK to set up a charity. We had surprised her with an all-expenses paid trip to Spain as we had never been abroad together in all our years of friendship.

I have indefinite leave to remain in the UK so need to apply for a visa, however the Spanish Consulate are being very difficult. My flight leaves tomorrow evening and I am literally just praying that its Gods will that he wants me to go. Like you Nigel, I have spent a lot of money on this trip and more importantly was really really looking forward to spending some time with my friends for the last time in the sun.

I simply ask that whoever reads this prays for me, and anyone else in such a situation.

In everything we need continue to have faith – we have a God that can move mountains.

Thank you for your story Nigel, I hope you enjoy your travels.

5:17 AM  

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