Hungry Bishop Gets Help from Stranger

March 5, 2018 by Sam Hodges

Upper Room Books author John Wimmer had a “chance” encounter with a United Methodist bishop in New York’s LaGuardia Airport. Read the story here.

Originally posted via the United Methodist News Service

March 1, 2018 | DALLAS (UMNS)—If you’re a United Methodist bishop, it pays to wear your bishop's lapel pin.

Bishop Eduard Khegay (left) with author John Wimmer

Eurasia Area Bishop Eduard Khegay testified to that at this week’s Council of Bishops meeting in Dallas.

Khegay was taking a taxi to the airport in Moscow, the beginning of his long journey to the meeting, when he realized he’d left his wallet.

He had his passport, and there wasn’t time to dash home, so he kept going.

Khegay was able to use the internet to pay for his taxi. He flew from Moscow to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, and there downloaded an app and used a credit card number (emailed by his wife) to pay for a shuttle to LaGuardia Airport.

But at LaGuardia, he struggled to find a concession stand that would take his credit card number.

“I couldn’t buy food,” he said. “I went to several stores.”

A man nearby noticed Khegay’s problem, and then noticed something else.

“He said, `That looks like a Methodist bishop’s pin,’” Khegay recalled.

Khegay identified the man as the Rev. John Wimmer. He's an Indiana Conference elder who is in extension ministry, working at the Lilly Endowment.

Khegay said Wimmer bought him snacks first, then a café meal during which they visited for about an hour, identifying retired United Methodist Bishops Mike Coyner and John Hopkins as mutual Methodist friends.

Khegay noted that before they parted Wimmer also advanced him cash for the rest of the trip.

During a testimonial time at closing worship of the bishops’ meeting, Khegay shared the basics of the story. He provided details in an interview afterward.

“I feel so blessed,” said Khegay. “We could recognize each other as Methodists. I’m very grateful for the connectional church.”

Wimmer, reached by phone, said he's been getting radiation treatment for cancer at Memorial Sloane-Kettering Center and was in New York for a checkup. He confirmed the LaGuardia encounter, including noticing the bishop's pin on Khegay's jacket and eventually pressing on Khegay $100 in cash.

“He was extremely reluctant to take anything," Wimmer recalled. "I said, `We’re a connectional church, so let’s connect. ... It was a blessing to me."

Sam Hodges, a United Methodist News Service writer, lives in Dallas. Contact him at (615) 742-5470 or

John Wimmer is the author of Blessed Endurance: Moving Beyond Despair to Hope, published by Upper Room Books in January 2018. In the book Wimmer reminds readers that with hope we also have faith—not the false belief that our lives will be pain-free but the assurance that God will be with us through our most challenging times and will lead us to deeper levels of spiritual growth. The very week that Wimmer was finishing his manuscript, he was diagnosed with an advanced cancer. He writes in the Epilogue: “In the end, this book may have been written for the benefit of my own soul as much as yours. Now it is time for me to learn again how to live into the words I have written.”

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