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Balloon at Masai Mara
Ron Simpkins

Three years ago, I went to Africa with some friends to help widows and orphans and preach at a pastors’ conference.


Alex Wilson and I made a visit to the Masai Mara, one of the great reserves of Africa. For two days we watched zebras, lions, giraffes, elephants, and Wildebeests. It was a once-in-a- lifetime experience visiting one of the ten wonders of the world.

Alex told me that night, that he was going to take a hot air balloon ride the next day. I was excited for him, but there was no way I could afford it. We went to where the balloons were at 5:30 AM.


It was an exciting place as eight balloons were filling their bags with huge flames of fire as the sun rose.

It was then that Alex told me he would pay for me.


We were going to float several thousand feet in the air over one of the most beautiful places on earth for a couple of hours and then have breakfast out on the plains surrounded by zebras, ostriches, and other animals.


I was excited.

How many people have ever flown in a balloon let alone doing it while floating over a game preserve in Africa?

The problem started when we had to get in the balloon.


They had a basket that 17 to 20 of us had to cram into.It was then that I remembered I have a serious case of claustrophobia. You didn’t just get into the basket, but it was laying on its side and you had to climb in and squat down in the dark.


I got in and immediately popped back out.


I had always had a battle with closed spaces. A couple of years earlier I had crashed my motorcycle and they strapped me down in the ambulance for a half-hour trip to the hospital. The whole ride I’m barely hanging onto my sanity strapped down and unable to move.  From that point, my claustrophobia jumped up 10 times. I would start to breathe heavily when in a drive-through; feeling trapped.

As I jumped out of that balloon my heart was pumping like a cartoon character’s.

I was terrified at the thought of doing what five minutes before I had been excited about. It was then I saw the look in Alex's eyes. I don't know what he had paid but it couldn’t have been cheap.

Probably as important was he and his wife Cindy are two of the kindest people on earth and what had meant to be a wonderful surprise and blessing was turning out bad.

Everyone was yelling for me to get back in and I made a run for it.

Somehow, I got back in the basket just as it was lifting off. Immediately in panic, I’m thinking of how to get out again, but by now we're a couple of hundred feet in the air.I realized that if I don't get a handle on myself, I’m going to jump to my death or have the worst couple hours of my life.


It was then I started to look around at the most beautiful scenery on earth. While I would be lying to say it was life's greatest moment. I had a great time there with my friend doing something exciting.

To me, this is often a picture of the Christian life.

Every day I make a choice to rejoice or to curl up in a ball and cry. The Bible itself can scare me half to death with its portrayal of the last days, and the devil.


Tied to this, God has, again and again, asked me to do impossible things and to trust him.


I think Sue and I have done a decent job of trusting God and living by faith.

You can reach Ron Simpkins at:

Be sure and ask about his new book. 

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