Concern is buzzing around me. Questions hang thick in the air. There is so much unknown. How close was this missionary to Egbe? Who kidnapped her? Why? What are they hoping to gain? Is she OK? Will someone pay for her release?
Perhaps you have already heard. An elderly female missionary, a 70 year old methodist pastor, who has been working in Nigeria for many years was kidnapped yesterday by 3 men armed with machine guns. She was living and serving in Kogi State at a school she helped establish. Egbe Hospital is also in Kogi State although we now know that the two places are not as close together as we first thought. Those of us at the hospital are currently “staying in place”. This means we will continue our daily routines and business but will not leave the compound until we have more information. You can imagine the strange sense of normalcy I felt today as I went about my duties. I smiled and greeted familiar faces, made some kids laugh, treated sick patients, and spent time teaching the resident doctors. Just a regular day’s work. But it sure didn’t feel like a regular day. In fact, it felt strangely quiet all day. I felt quiet too. I didn’t have a strong reaction when I first heard about the kidnapping and I still don’t have many feelings of fear or doubt. I think I am still contemplating things.
I am wondering what it must be like to be a helpless victim, faced with the violence of unprovoked anger? I am wondering just how many people live each day in such a state of terror? How many children open their eyes each morning to realize they still carry the painful repercussions of brutality? How many women have had lives shattered by cruelty and now give up hope that change could ever come? How many men have been physically, psychologically and spiritually damaged, casualties of mankind's unrestrained hatred and love of power and self? How many?
I think about this…
Then my thoughts drift back to a few days ago when I was sitting on the tip of a hill overlooking Egbe. I was there with 3 other missionaries early Sunday morning. We were sitting quietly looking at the town we have been called to serve. We spent time praying, listening, singing and reading God’s word. I read 2 Corinthians chapter 4 that morning. “We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies...Yes, we live under constant danger of death because we serve Jesus…We know that God, who raised the Lord Jesus, will also raise us with Jesus and present us to himself together with you…That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” - What glorious words!
O Lord, will you show me how to make my daily "routine" actions worthy of the troubles and dangers that come my way?
Will you help me remove all the unnecessary things which keep me from following hard after you?
Will you keep my vision locked onto the eternal things yet to be seen, but that will last forever?
Will you bring people into my life who are hurting, fearful and in pain so that I can share with them this glorious hope which I have because of you?
Will you help me say with the saints who have gone before me,
“That is why I never give up!”