When we accepted the assignment to come here, it was with great fear and trembling. We’d read enough of the headlines to know that Nigeria is a hot spot for trouble. Bombs, clashes, terrorism, these were realities that we had heard about. We prayed long and hard about saying yes. In fact, we initially said no. But, we really sought the Lord on this one and we consistently felt in our spirits that we needed to come here. We came to the realization that the places where the gospel is still most desperately needed are primarily difficult places. There is a reason why these places are still so dark. So, we said yes.
Through training, we would just pray our way through every news article and headline that came our way. Knowing that our trust was in our creator, sustainer, and savior, not in the BBC reports. We had nagging worries, but the Lord always brought peace and reaffirmed our calling. He still does. Nearly. every. day.
However, the reality is, we’re here now. And it is hard. There are seasons, weeks, days that are harder, but it is hard. There are the general difficulties that we would face in any West African country, but then there is the very real fact that we live in an area of Nigeria that two religious factions each desperately want to claim as their own. We live in a place where Christian and Muslims once lived as neighbors, where they shopped, worked, and raised their children together. A city that was once known for it’s peace and tourism. Now it is a city deeply divided. The markets and the residential areas are now polarized into the Christians and the Muslims. The people we know don’t want it to be that way, but it is and they have no choice but to live with the repercussions of it.
Most days, it’s not a major issue for us. We get up, we do life, we love people the best we can. But it’s always there. This reality called terrorism is like a little nagging gnat always flying round your face.
When they blast dynamite for new construction across the wall and your 10 year old hits the deck wondering if it’s another bomb blast, it’s there.
When you chose not to take a much anticipated weekend trip because of the embassy warnings against travel and instead send your husband and daughter to pick up groceries so you can settle in for the weekend safely, it’s there.
When they come home from grocery shopping and your 11 year old is chatting incessantly about how she watched the police take down a suspected suicide bomber while crouching in a corner of the store with her daddy, it’s there.
When your 4 year old hears a tire burst and yells from the trampoline, “Mama, did you hear that loud noise, do we need to go to the safe room?” It’s there.
When you pray each Saturday night for discernment about where and when and if you should try to go to church on Sunday, it’s there.
When your children say goodbye to family after family in just 7 short months because they, or their mission agency, have decided that the risk is just too great, or the stress is too much, it’s there.
When you watch your househelper struggle to find a way to work because they’ve taken the motorcycle taxis off the road in an effort to prevent suicide bombings, it’s there.
When you ask where to find something in the market and some nice Nigerian lady points out the direction with the stern warning, “But don’t you go past that red building, it wouldn’t be safe for you,” it’s there.
When your national friends call you to make sure you’re home because there is trouble in town, it’s there.
It’s a reality. A daily, ever-present reality of our lives. And the lives of our children. It is heavy. There are times when we second guess and when we wonder if we’re crazy. And then we remember that we’re not. We’re called. We’re equipped. We have a shield and defender. A strong tower. An ever-present help in times of trouble. A mighty counselor. And no matter what the situation. He is there. And I can walk in wisdom and confidence because He is there.
Now, if you’uns would just pray that I’d remember that when that gnat starts swarming round my face, I’d appreciate it!