Two Seventh-day Adventist believers — a division leader in Kenya and a local church leader in the U.S. state of California — faced potentially life-threatening tire trouble on the same day this week, and they were praising God on Tuesday for His protection.
Alain G. Coralie, executive secretary of the Adventist Church’s East-Central Africa Division, was surprised to find a burst tire when he disembarked Monday from a Precision Air turboprop in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi.
Coralie had just arrived on the Tanzanian airline from Mwanza, Tanzania, where he had attended a church conference and a fund-raising event for a church-operated center of influence.
“Perfect landing in Nairobi from Mwanza, TZ, and then this is what we discovered,” Coralie wrote on Facebook with a photograph of the flat tire.
“TYJ,” he added, using the acronym for “Thank you, Jesus.”
Commercial airline pilots tend to view flat tires as minor events, noting that passenger planes have multiple tires that serve as backups in the event that one or more burst. But pilots also do not treat the issue lightly. Several planes have made successful emergency landings in the U.S. and elsewhere this year after their tires burst during takeoff. But a flat tire can create complications, such as when a small fire broke out after four tires on a Lufthansa Airbus A330 burst during landing in Mumbai, India, last May.
A flat tire can also cause a pilot to lose control of the aircraft.
“I’ve had a main wheel go flat on landing on a small aircraft. We were not able to maintain directional control, so we went farming,” said Greg Phillips, a commercial pilot and Adventist believer based in the U.S. state of Virginia. “Farming” is when the plane leaves the runway and plows into the grass.
Phillips said his plane was traveling slow enough to avoid sustaining damage in the landing.
Coralie said Precision Air made no comment about the flat tire in Nairobi, and his fellow passengers showed little reaction.
“What surprised me the most was many saw it as a non-event or maybe they were too shocked to express their feelings,” he told the Adventist Review. “As for me, it was quite an excitement at first before it dawned on me that it was only because of God’s grace that we made it safely.”
Halfway around the world, Sandra Torres, the Sabbath School superintendent and health ministries director of the San Jose Central Seventh-day Adventist Church in California, was also praising God after a potentially close call on Monday.
“Do you believe in miracles?” Torres wrote on Facebook. “God has shown me many. This one is new and I am still gasping over it.”
After visiting family members in Modesto, Torres got behind the wheel of her car with a prayer for a safe journey to her home in San Jose, located 90 miles (145 kilometers) to the west.
About 30 miles into the two-hour trip, she heard a loud rattling noise, and her car began to swerve back and forth. But she had a number of activities that she still wanted to accomplish that day, and she was anxious to get home.
“I prayed in my mind and asked God to not allow me to have a blowout,” she said. “I was able to get back on course and drive all the way home.”
When Torres arrived at her house, she got out of the car to see whether she had run over something and damaged the car.
“That’s when I saw the tire,” she said. “The tread is what blew off and got caught under the car. The casing was completely exposed, and all the threads of metal. I drove almost an hour on it like that and can only imagine an angel from God keeping the tire from exploding. I am so astounded and grateful.”
Two and a half hours later, the tire was completely flat.
Torres said she was astounded at how close she had come to having an accident.
“I just keep thinking how clueless I was … and praising Him!” she said.
Citing Psalms 5:11, she said: “But let all who take refuge in You be glad; let them ever sing for joy. Spread Your protection over them, that those who love Your name may rejoice in You.”