This is a war. This is a war that we are part of. Always in war there are casualties and often there is collateral damage, unintended consequences of the fight. We experienced some of this collateral damage last Friday (12/14). God had opened a door for us to go to Congo to participate in celebrations for a university graduation, pastoral ordinations, and new believers being baptized. The enemy, however, was willing to do whatever it took to keep us from getting there, including putting a small boy in the path of our vehicle.
As we were driving through Uganda on our way to the DRC, we came around a bend and the taxi in front of us pulled off the road to pick up some more passengers. As my eyes shifted from the taxi back to road, there was a boy running across the road ahead of us. He paused in the middle of the road as he saw us for the first time, but then he kept running. I saw him in the same moment he saw us and, despite slamming on the brakes and swerving away from him, the front corner of our vehicle struck the boy. He went on to die a few minutes later.
We didn’t continue our journey to Congo that day. We didn’t feel that we were able to after all that had happened. Some may say that in turning back we let Satan win that day. We don’t. We may not have reached Congo that day, it’s true. And we may have been knocked down for a few days, we were. But we’re still in the fight. Our Leader is still leading and we are still following, right into DRC.
A few days later I heard about a blog post that stated things well. The blog was written in response to the Newtown, CT shootings, but it is quite applicable in this situation as well. In it, the author relates this story:
“But in the middle of defying worship, I remember it – how a missionary told of this snake— longer than a man—that slithered its way right through their front door and straight to the kitchen. How she had flung outside screaming and a machete-wielding neighbor had calmly walked into her kitchen and he sliced off the head of the reptilian thing. But a snake’s neurology and blood flow make it such that it slithers wild even after it’s been sliced headless. For hours the missionary stood outside. And the body of the snake rampaged on, thrashing hard against windows and walls, destroying chairs and table and all things good and home. A snake can wreak havoc until it accepts it has no head — that it’s really dead.”
The snake is still thrashing, still seeking to kill, steal, and destroy, still making a mess of people’s lives. But praise God, his head is crushed, cut off; he is defeated. And, rather that focusing on the pain that Satan is causing in his death spasms, we are choosing to focus on how God is still working. Here are some of the ways we saw Him work, even in the midst of this tragedy.
- No one within our vehicle was injured.
- Our two older boys, Timothy and Benjamin, were staying with my sister’s family and didn’t have to experience this and try to understand it at ages 4 and 2.
- There was a police officer right there in the trading center who removed us from the scene and escorted us to the police station.
- Our field director, Jonathan, was traveling with us and was able to make calls to the police, our insurance agent, and our lawyer before I was even thinking clearly enough to know what to do.
- The Local Councilor (a bit like a mayor) for that area witnessed the accident and testified to the police that it was an unfortunate accident, but I had done everything I could to avoid it.
- The crowd that gathered immediately after the accident never got angry or threatened us, very uncommon here in Uganda.
- The police officers who handled the case were all very understanding, honest, and professional.
- The accident occurred in Uganda, not Congo, so language was less of an issue and our insurance agent was able to arrive quickly.
- We’ve been reconciled with the family and they have agreed not to pursue the matter further or to bring it up again in the future.
God was fighting for us, even as we walked through this difficult situation. We don’t believe that it was God’s will for this child to die that day and, while we don’t understand why He allowed it to happen, we don’t believe this was God’s way of trying to close the door to Congo for us. Our hearts are wounded and hurting, but we have a God who heals. Our faith was shaken, but our Foundation remains sure. Our plans were postponed, but our God is not defeated.
Our eyes are fixed on God and He is the one leading us on to Congo. This is not the first opposition we have faced, nor do we expect it to be the last. We covet your prayers as we continue to heal from this traumatic experience, but even more we ask for your prayers for Congo and our future work there. We need you to stand with us as we fight this battle together. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12) And that is a battle that can be fought from wherever God has placed you.