Do not think this is directed at any one person but know that I have probably felt the pull to come “home” at one time or another in search of “safety.” We are not guaranteed safety in the Bible. Not once.
There are 148 students dead at Garissa University in Northern Kenya. If you haven’t yet heard about it start watching world news. It is sad. Tragic. An unthinkable act of terror.
In response someone wrote on a friend’s Facebook wall, “It’s time for you to come home. This could have been [your child].”
Of course it could’ve been one of us. It could’ve been one of us in Europe or China or Australia or yes, even “home” in America. Terror does not confine itself to Kenya. It doesn’t even confine itself to Africa or the Middle East. It is evil and it is everywhere.
Day-to-day life changes when living under frequent security warnings from our embassy, the Kenyan government and other world leaders. Once again we do not go to shopping malls at night or on the weekends. We avoid large gathering places. We do not travel to certain areas in the country. We listen to advice given and heed warnings about threats.
Yet, this does not define our lives. There are other places to shop or see a movie or go for an ice cream. There are other events to attend and places to vacation. Please do not mistake our carefulness for constant fear. We merely try to be “wise as serpents” while “innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16)
This does not make me brave. This is a day-to-day reliance on the goodness and faithfulness of my God. He is in control. Yes, He is in control even when circumstances seem out of control; even when terror comes to my country; even when suffering and sadness happen.
Easter just two years ago found us celebrating in South Sudan with teammates from 5 different countries and South Sudanese from many tribes. We cooked all morning over charcoal, went to church where there was much dancing and then feasted on lamb stew and rice from disposable plates under flame trees while sitting on plastic chairs. We shared the Gospel story through song, translated it into Arabic and some heard it for the first time. Our house was a place to hear of Jesus’ sacrifice and His love.
This year we celebrated in the comfort of our new home with friends and teammates who work in 3 different countries. A big bang from the night before meant the electricity was out through the night and into the morning disrupting my plans to throw a roast in the crockpot (not even an option in South Sudan). Instead we cooked with the gas oven and stove top to make the meal, a much easier medium to work with than charcoal. After church we gathered around our wooden dining table to eat off of matching ceramic plates and metal cutlery, our conversation focused more on encouragement for tired teammates while the meal was a taste of home, something not normally served in the countries they work. Our house is a place of refuge and a place to be refreshed.
Sometimes I wonder why God brought us to South Sudan and back again. I’m not sure I’ll ever know the answer for sure. Sometimes it feels like we were pulled out of the front lines only to be placed on the back burner; always hearing exciting stories but not quite able to participate in them. Yet both roles are important; that of evangelist and that of encourager to other Believers. There are many examples in the New Testament of both.
For now we are certain this is where God has placed us. Pray for us that in the role he now has us we will be effective in spreading the Gospel by supporting our teammates well and that if there is opportunity we will embrace it.