Raleigh, North Carolina, at 5AM. I am wide awake and sitting in the hotel lobby in my dirty clothes from being in Uganda without a washing machine. My head is peeling like a snake from the intense sun at the equator for a week, and a two-day beard that is more silver all of the time. It’ll take my circadian clock another two days to revert to Eastern Standard Time, in all likelihood. Gina arrives here today and I was lying in bed waiting and thinking about our trip.
I heard from Chris that he and Mary arrived home in Lynchburg safe and sound at about ten last night, Praise God!
This is what I have been thinking about… Imagine it to be about 3AM and you are living in a very remote place and you wake up because you have to get up to use the toilet. You only have an outhouse and get dressed to go outside, but for some reason, in the little compound where you live with other relief workers and mixxionaries, you sense danger that you can neither hear nor see. You remain inside despite the urgency for the toilet. Meanwhile, your neighbor in the compound hears footsteps coming from behind his brick and straw house. He too, is stricken by a strange fear and moves his family onto the floor under the bed. In the quiet, he hears the muffled cocking as the firing bolt of an AK 74 rifle is charged making the gun ready for action. Suddenly, there is fire everywhere! The roofs are on fire and this is quickly followed by lots of gunfire directed at the doorway of the three little houses in the compound. Fire is now falling as the straw roofs are collapsing. You have to get out but you realize that as soon as you cross the threshold, you, the wife, and the kids will meet a hail of bullets!
Still, you must run and get out and you gather your family, pray to the God of Miracles desperately, and dash for the closest structure of cover to your house, the outdoor toilet. Amazingly, the attackers that are pouring automatic weapons fire on your doorway fail to see you and the rest run past. It was as if an angel has blinded their eyes with their hands! Nobody is hit and now you shelter in the outhouse but discover this is on fire too and so, you have to move again. Men are screaming, running about, and fire their weapons indiscriminately and the only place of refuge is a tent pitched about thirty feet away. You run for it and again, you and your family are not detected despite the close proximity of the attackers and the illumination from the fires which are now out of control. You arrive inside of the tent and conceal everyone on the floor among some items stored inside there. The gunfire wanes as you continue to pray to the Mighty One for protection. Now, men are searching, looking for anyone to kill that may have escaped. The children are quiet and there is no crying. There is peace, just enough!
Your neighbor, when he heard the men behind his house and the charging of the weapon in the still of the night grabbed his family and dove under the bed as bullets riddled his abode. They, too, prayed and were able to make good an escape similar to the above but opted to go directly for the tent. Just prior to leaving his house amidst the chaos, he remembered that his Thuraya satpone was lying on the table and so he quickly returned for this essential equipment. With his family concealed as safely as possible, he began to assess the past behaviors of the supposed attackers. If men were found with their women and children, they would all be killed, but if there were no men, then the women and kids might be spared. So, he made a dash for the swamp of reeds that was very near to the compound and being missed by several hails of gunfire. There he remained hidden until well after daybreak, when the bandits had left and safety was restored. During this time, he could not be located and thought to have been killed or captured and taken away. During the attack, several local constables arrived from a nearby village and exchanged fire with the attackers, during which time three individuals were killed. Nothing was left except the scorched earth of the sub-Saharan desert. Here is a link to see the photos of the aftermath http://www.flickr.com/photos/ngkilloren/4250696460/in/set-72157623150667810/
NOT AT ALL FICTION, FRIENDS! These are the actual accounts of some of our mixxionary brothers and sisters about an attack that occurred twenty-one days ago in Atar, Sudan. Many of this group experienced extensive partial thickness burns from the burning and falling debris inside of their homes during the attack. The salvaged Thuraya satellite phone was used to call for help from this remote village and our ministry partners at AIM-AIR, whom we have trained in medical skills, courageously responded on the evening of 1 January to the nearest safe airport and waited for daylight to quickly fly in and evacuate all of the mixxionaries and care for their wounds. The total time from attack to evacuation was thirty-six hours. While this is amazingly fast considering the complexities of such a mission, there were injured brothers and sisters in pain for a long time.
The Lord has clearly been showing Arise that we are positioned, skilled, and equipped with the gifts and talents to offer support to our brothers and sisters…..reduce the pain, save lives, and keep these vital warriors for Christ on the front lines. We need to even become more proactive in preparing mixxionaries for these contingencies even without having to hear stories like this one, wouldn’t you agree?
They are eager to learn how to take care of themselves when they can and let God do the rest and so we do our part. Over the last few days, you’ve seen some photos of how we train and prepare….good, hard, and sometimes a bit painful, but necessary in accomplishing the mission to take the name of the Lord everywhere.
Here, you can catch a glimpse of us demonstrating intraosseous insertion techniques to some nurses working in places even more remote and hostile than Atar, Sudan. Did it hurt? Yes it did. Was Mary working hard to get the needle into my leg? Yes, she was. Was it necessary for learning? Yes, given the geographic location and the absence of doctors. Was I able to walk afterwards? You bet, right into an Ethiopian Restaurant! Am I a hero (or fool) for offering up my leg? Not at all! Jesus did give a bit more than that for me, didn’t he?
Well, now maybe I can get back to sleep and pass the time until Gina gets here!
Carl for self