Another Special Life in Christ
These testimony lives are not stories of "role models". Jesus is the
These are lives wonderfully touched & changed by Jesus!
Henry Clarke Bynum, Jr.
Born in Sumter, S. C. in 1961, he grew up in Trinity United
Methodist Church. Almost too busy to do so, he volunteered at the last minute for a two week
teaching mission trip to Uganda. Through a scheduling error, he and close friend Gifford Shaw ended
28 Dec. 2000 up in the forward first class area close to the cockpit on (a 747...398
passengers) British Airways Flight 2069 to Nairobi, Kenya. They were 35,000 feet above the Sudan
desert. During the flight, a Kenyan man entered the
Some months earlier, Sumter attorney Dicky Jones
had approached Clarke Bynum & Gifford Shaw about a mission trip to Uganda. Clarke had
never been on such a trip and wasn't inclined to leave his family, anyhow. But his wife,
Sissy, thought it would be a great opportunity. After several days of prayer, he decided to
go. Many friends said they would pray for the trip, and there was much family prayer. Clarke
remembers praying on Dec. 26th, "Lord, as a result of this trip to Africa, may my life never
be the same!"
They drove from Sumter to Charlotte on the 27th to
catch the 21 hour flight that would cover over 21,000 miles. Because of a storm while
approaching England, They were diverted from Gatwick airport to Heathrow...then bused back to
Gatwick. But the doors to their flight had closed 5 minutes prior to their hurried
arrival...missed flight! They had to be re-ticketed onto flight 2069 to Nairobi, Kenya &
then on to Uganda. Clarke: "I felt great peace about this...we'll just go with the flow."
Prior to the flight, they had a few hours in a hotel room, and Clarke wrote in his journal,
"Well, Lord, the adventure goes on." They had purchased business class tickets, and Clarke
headed for row 61...where he would have reasonable leg room for his 6 foot 7 inch frame. The
attendant said, "No, you are in the 2nd level bubble (48 seats) on the second row back from
the cockpit." A family of 4 was on the first row. Clarke asked Gifford to trade seats so that
he (Clarke) could switch from the window seat to the minimally less crowded aisle seat. They
had supper in flight...talked some...and generally felt at peace. It was getting dark, so
they decided to get some sleep.
Clarke and Gifford, both devout Jesus believers,
were jolted awake by a sudden nosedive of the large plane. The front-row father looked back
at Clarke and said, "I just saw a man run into the cockpit!" There were awful screams for
help coming from the cockpit cabin. Scared absolutely to death and frozen, Clarke turned to
Gifford, "This is it; we're going to die!!" Clarke: "My emotions and mind were razor sharp.
We'd either die by the plane just coming apart or smashing into the Sudan Desert." Gifford
said, "We've got to do something, now; I'm going into that cockpit!" And, from his window
seat, Gifford gave Clarke a shove. Clarke: "As I bolted forward, I thought that in a matter
of seconds I'd be in Heaven [I'd accepted Jesus as Lord and savior as a child]...I had
thoughts of my wife and 4 children." A graduate of Wilson Hall High School and Clemson
University and the first McDonalds' All American college basketball player from South
Carolina, Clarke scrambled for the cockpit. He turned the door knob...sensing danger...and
jerked it open to find total bedlam...two fighting the assailant...the Kenyan having the
copilot around the throat (the pilot had been on a sleep break). Clarke reached long arms
over the turmoil and grabbed the extremely strong Kenyan by the shoulders and pulled back
with all of his might...Gifford and one other helping as Clarke & the Kenyan fell
backwards. Clarke sensed the plane pulling upward out of the near-fatal nosedive at the last
second! The Kenyan (a man named Mukonyi) was about 6 feet tall & 200 pounds and cloaked
in a black hood & jacket. As he restrained the man, the hood came off; & Clarke
looked into the eyes of a man who had wanted to kill them
June 2015 Note: Who was that "one other"? By now, some have thought that it may have been an angel along the lines of today's Face Book posting of the story of the "angelic priest" who showed up just after the August 4, 2013 drunk driver wreck that appeared to have hopelessly trapped 19 y/o Katie Lentz in Missouri. The events of that day cannot be explained or rationalized in any way outside of being a miracle. Her one request to pray out loud ended in a miracle that nobody at the scene will ever be able to forget
(her miracle story, The Secret Plan Facebook Page).
After applying the handcuffs from the pilot,
Clarke looked at his own wrist watch; and it was 12:10 midnight EST. Reconstruction of events
determined that the cockpit break-in was at 11:53 EST & that the plane fell 19,000 feet.
The difference between living and dying was calculated as between 3-5 seconds...in no more
than 5 more seconds, the plane nosedive would have been irreversible. Clarke & Gifford
were discussing whether or not to call home...to go on with the trip or not. The plane landed
2 hours later, and they were debriefed at about 4AM EST. Shortly, they saw the news of the
event splashed on CNN; & they called home several hours later. They headed home to Sumter
the next day!
Always a retiring sort and not a "fighter",
Clarke gives The Lord entire credit for his act of heroism, as well as the very fact that He
had put Clarke on that trip in the first place. Now, countless testimonies have been given by
these two men to churches and civic groups throughout the USA. Clarke and I are both Sumter,
S. C. natives; and his family grew up in Trinity Methodist Church, as did ours. I heard his
testimony in Jan.-Feb. 2001 at Trinity and again June 9th, 2002 on our church property
in Lexington, S. C.
By the way, that phone call cost $1250; and, yes,
British Airways re-imbursed the cost! If you were on this flight and want to contact Clarke
and Gifford, e-mail me, below.
In the meantime, Clarke decided to go into the
Christian ministry. He came down with cancer and died at home 9/3/07 while a student @
Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, N. C. His obituary plainly stated "he was a
bondservant of Christ". Ironically, an e-mail came to me on 9/4/02 from a man from San Diego,
California who was on that flight (the only e-mail I have received to that date), is a
Christian, and speaks of God's blessings on himself since that flight. December 10th 2009,
Scott Oglesby e-mailed me that he his wife & 3 kids were on that flight, all Christians
before and since...but that the experience was a real turning point for the children. On 6
September 2011, an e-mail came from England, Ralph Darvil: he and his wife were
***give me your comments about this
(posted 12 June 2002; updated 6 June
You have just read a very brief example of the
powerful, supernatural transformation of a person's life which is possible through the
acceptance of Jesus as your savior. Are you tired of life as it now is for you? He will
accept you just as you are right this second! Consider accepting Jesus now