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Oh Danny Boy - Chester Cook

"My only option is deportation. I'll have to let them deport me."

Deportation can be a serious offense. It is one form of travel that most people never have to consider. But Gordon was at the end of his rainbow and someone had stolen his pot of gold.

Gordon possessed a student visa and had just finished a summer internship with a large beverage company here in Atlanta. He used a pre-paid credit card as his primary form of currency and had planned to use it one final time to purchase his ticket to Edinburg, Scotland. He was to start a new job on the following Monday when he returned to Scotland.

Gordon was a very intelligent young college student and was well-prepared for his trip home. He packed every thing into his suitcase and a backpack. But he had not planned on someone stealing his wallet.

Gordon was sitting in the Airport Chapel and was not able to think very clearly. He told us that he had $1,800 on the per-paid credit card, and even had a bank receipt from that morning that verified this truth. Gordon was not asking for any assistance, he was just trying to figure what to do. Larry and I listened to his story and told him to get with his friends in Atlanta to see if they could help him get the ticket home. Gordon left resolved to work it out.

Three days later, we walked into the Airport Chapel and Gordon had returned. He was very depressed and said that his friends in Atlanta did have not enough money and his time was running out. He said that he only had two days left on his visa and that he was going to turn himself into immigration and get deported. He said that if he got deported, he would not be able to enter the United States for ten years.

I had concerns about fines, incarceration and detainment. I did find out that the process sometimes takes months where the deportee is held in a jail-like facility for 30 to 60 days, pending a hearing and deportation.

By this time, we had had several hours with Gordon and found him to be one of the nicest young men we had ever counseled. He never asked for a dime of help. We took Gordon to lunch and found out that he was a good Christian boy and that he was going to work for a beverage distributor when he returned home.

He felt sure that his job would be lost, because he would not be there on Monday. Before we ate, we said a prayer of thanks for the food and lifted Gordon's dilemma to the Divine Deliverer.

After lunch, I felt compelled to check on some possibilities. I asked Gordon, if we could get him to London, England, could he get a family member or friend to pick him up. He was willing to give this a try.

I went online and I found a ticket to London for $1,200.00. Ouch. But when I tried ATL to EDI, I could not believe my eyes -- $275.00. I thought I put in the wrong code.

I looked at Gordon and said, "Oh Danny boy the pipes the pipes are call'in."

He said to me, "Chaplain Cook, that's an Irish song, and I am from Scotland."

I said, "You will have to show me around Scotland one day. Would you like to go home to Scotland tonight?"

He looked at me and rubbed his red hair, and said, "Yes, but how?"

I said, "The Lord answered our prayer, and you will be home on Sunday morning just in time for church."

Gordon wrote Ben DeCosta, the airport's general manager, the nicest letter of appreciation, resulting in a SHINNING STAR award for Larry and me, and we will always remember our friend, Gordon, in Scotland.

If you have any comments on this column, please contact me at chaplain@airportchapel.org.