I AM HERE
By Tammy Hopson
In the Fall of 2022, twenty-five middle school students sat waiting to hear from heaven. The event had been planned for over a year by a small group of teachers who led the HAM radio club at Harris Middle School.
The goal was to set up the radio gear necessary to make contact with the International Space Station as it flew overhead on that specific day. If a connection could be made the students would be able to ask questions to the astronaut onboard the ship and learn more about his experience in space. The setup was no easy task. There were towers to raise, radio equipment to purchase and test, and mock runs of the event. The contact had to occur during the precise moment the Space Station was flying over the school. All of the gear had to be set at just the right settings and frequency or the event would fail. Everyone involved came together with the expectation that contact would be made that day.
The event was announced and the public was invited to attend. County officials, school board members, and others came to witness the contact. Representatives of the national amateur radio club came to help facilitate and witness the contact as well as document the happening for NASA and themselves. The group would have only 9.5 minutes to reach the astronaut and ask questions. Last-minute preparations were put in place and the radio gear was tested once more. The students were excited. The moment had finally come! The audience was seated anticipating the countdown to begin.
One student asked if he could pray first and humbly knelt down before the audience. He prayed out loud for God to give them a favor and thanked Him for being with the students and teachers.
Soon one teacher took hold of the radio. Holding it up to his mouth he identified himself and called out to the astronaut. Everyone in the room stared silently in expectation. No answer came. The teacher called out again asking for a reply from the sky. Still, nothing was heard. Members of the audience looked at each other as if they were wondering if this was really going to happen. Again the teacher called out but this time even louder. The heavens stayed silent. The teachers and students began to fear. What if they couldn’t get an answer? The determined teacher continued to plead “Are you there? WE ARE HERE WAITING” Disappointment began to take hold of everyone. An even more fervent call came from the teacher into the radio. Suddenly a slight static came across the speaker. The faint voice of the astronaut was heard in the distance as he said “I am here”. Then the astronaut announced his name. Elation and relief filled the room as the astronaut’s voice came through loud and clear. A contact had been made! One by one each student asked a question to the man hovering miles above them in space. The event was a success! Each student left that day with a remarkable memory they will never forget.
I was a witness to those incredible minutes when everything was silent and there was absolutely no sound or reply despite the cries coming from below. But haven’t we all been in that very place? In times just like this when we have called out in prayer expecting an answer but there seemed to be only silence? Oh, the disappointment we have felt and the fear that floods our souls when we wonder if God is even listening! How easy it seems to just give up and stop praying. Those few minutes of silence from the sky seemed like a very long time to those who were there listening and waiting. How true that is for us when we are waiting on God. The teachers were told later that the astronaut had heard them from the very first call. God also hears us the very second we call out to Him! His answer may come right away and other times we must wait longer. Days and years can pass and still God can seem silent to our cries. But be encouraged today! God will always answer! We must do as this teacher did and keep on calling! Cry out even louder! And if we continue to listen, the moment will come when we will hear Him through the static of our fears and disappointments. His voice will come through loud and clear to our expectant hearts and say to us “I am here.”
Psalm 17:6 “I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech.”
Tammy Hopson has been a Mitchell County resident since 1992 and lives in Red Hill with her family. She is a mother of six children and grandmother of 14. She has been a member of Hoyle Memorial Christian Fellowship in Lawndale, NC since 1992 and helps lead The HMCF Youth Group.
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