Since I last wrote a post, much has happened all over the world, and especially in West Africa. In the past week alone, many major tragedies have occurred.
In Cameroon: On the morning of December 29th, 2017, two women suicide bombers set out to do major, irreversible damage to a community of people. Upon seeing these two women, people of Kordo of the Kolofata subdivision in Cameroon cornered the women, causing them to set off their explosive devices prematurely. Only the two young women suicide bombers were killed. On the previous night, December 28th, 2017, not very far away from Kordo, another attack occurred, killing one innocent person in the Mayo-Moskota subdivision, bordering Nigeria (source).
As if this was not enough, Moussa Ramat, the ex-mayor of Fotokol, Cameroon, was acquitted on charges of secretly helping Boko Haram. Ramat was a part of “several negotiations” with Boko Haram that led to the freedom of Boko Haram captives. Because there was little evidence linking Moussa Ramat to the charges that he was helping Boko Haram, he was deemed not guilty (source). This is all in view of recent news that a journalist from France was also freed from prison, acquitted on charges that he spoke to Boko Haram without passing on the information to the government. Only Jesus alone knows the full truth of these whole investigations (source).
In Nigeria: On Christmas Day, around 11 p.m., gunmen snuck into the Kamale community in Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State. As people celebrated the birth of Christ, these assailants shot sporadically into the homes of those in the Kamale community, killing at least four people and injuring many others (source). The survivors climbed up nearby mountains and “scampered away,” one survivor, Micheal Zira, said (source).
In Molai, Nigeria, Boko Haram also attacked the Molai General Hospital (source). Shooting everywhere as they entered Molai, at least one woman and numerous young men assaulted those belonging to the hospital. Three people were burned to death. Two brand new jeeps were also stolen from the Hospital (source).
In the USA: A partner in a Law Firm, located in Long Beach, California, shot and killed two of his colleagues, before committing suicide himself. Employees in the entire law firm ran out as the gun shots sounded, screaming, “They’re shooting inside” (source).
In Colorado, on the morning of December 31st, 2017, one Colorado deputy was shot and killed, and six others were wounded, four being police men and two being civilians. The shooting happened after responding to a domestic violence call close to Denver. It is reported that it was an “ambush style” shooting (source). The officer who passed away was 29-year-old Zackari Parrish.
Egypt: Though not in West Africa, I found it important to report that, tragically, 9 Coptic Christians were killed in the city of Cairo, Egypt.
On Friday, December 29th, 2017, assailants reportedly a part of Boko Haram went into a store owned by a Coptic Christian, killing his two sons. Shortly after, the assailants tried to get into The Coptic Orthodox Church, in Mar Mina, a part of a small suburb within Cairo called Helwan. While the assailants intended to throw an explosive device into the church, they were unable to get through the line of security officers surrounding the church’s entrance. The shoot out killed one security officer and six worshippers, inside (source).
As I write this, I become aware of the fact that 22 people have died– and that those around them have been forever changed by their deaths.
Tens of hundreds of people have been suddenly, and violently, immersed into a state of grief so deep that they may consider death themselves.
In one moment, their loved one was alive. Worshiping Christ, or working, or celebrating Christmas with those around them… and then they were gone.
Many, many people, due to terrorism, have been plunged into a world that suddenly doesn’t make sense. For those who were innocently taken by terrorism, the words of one person, who knew one of the partners killed in the Law Firm shooting in Long Beach, California, sum it up quite well. “He certainly didn’t deserve this.”
“He certainly didn’t deserve this.“
What are we to do, when suddenly, we are submerged into a life that no longer makes sense– a life that is filled with grief, loss, and pain?
What the Bible Says about Suffering
I understand that me, a young person safe within the confines of her own home, holding a laptop, free to worship Jesus– I have no idea of how it feels to lose someone I love so much to something as evil as terrorism. I have little to no room to preach to those who have been struck by such a dark and evil blow.
No cliche or common Christian saying can mend a heart so broken.
But the Bible speaks a lot about how we will suffer in this life, especially for Jesus, in passages such as Philippians 1:29 and 1 Peter 4. In 1 Peter 4, Peter writes this:
“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And, ‘If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?’ 19 So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
(1 Peter 4:12-19, NIV)
The people Peter was writing to were overwhelmed by the trials and persecution they were going through. But Peter encourages them to rejoice.
How can one rejoice, when everyone around them is gone?
Christ does not call us to rejoice because of the suffering. That is insane. But He does call us to rejoice throughout the trial, because of the fact that we draw closer to Christ in the suffering, becoming partners with Christ in it (1 Peter 4:13).
When No One is To Blame
There are people to blame in these tragedies. Boko Haram. Evil, greedy men with guns and bombs and other weapons. Some of our problems are even self-inflicted. But, what about when pain has no one person or thing to blame? While pondering such questions, I happened upon an essay article written by David Weiss– a Christian man diagnosed with schizophrenia, who has undergone immense pain and suffering. His essay, “God of the Schizophrenic,” offered some insight: “Even when we cannot grasp the sources of our misfortunes, we can strive to learn the right lessons.”
“Pain is a powerful drug. It altered my perception and was an indelible part of my reality,” Weiss states. So many of those plunged into the world of grief, fear, and immense loss know what He is saying, all too well.
But his words about lessons is true:
We can get bitter, or get better.
We can turn away from Jesus, or run to Him, with all of our anger and questions and tears.
And perhaps, it is in running to Him, we will find something bigger than the answers we seek, as David Weiss did:
“I have finally met the God I had heard about but never truly experienced. A God who heals. A God who loves. …A God who manifests his genius by salvaging good from the evil in our lives.”
A Love that Never Fails
Let me ask you this: Is having every answer going to make you feel less bitter about your suffering? Does knowing the specifics and story of a crime scene make it less sad?
Right now, amidst the clamoring voices demanding change because of these tragedies– and rightly so– the deepest need of those suffering in a world that makes no sense is not having answers, but being Loved. Love that will never fail; Love that will save and restore them. Love that will comfort and hide away those in their distress.
As those around the world this week are suffering from these horrific tragedies, I pray that Jesus would surround them in a real way with His Comfort and Love, both supernaturally and through His People.
If you are not a Christian, please know that the only Love that will never fail is Jesus Christ’s Love. Come to Him during this time.
If you are a Christian, run to the One who promises to weep with you, comfort you, hide you away, and never leave your side, in the midst of the darkness.
You may (or may not) ever get any answers in this life. But His Love will see you through. And perhaps, that is all we really need.
This blog post is in tribute to the 5 deputies wounded in Colorado’s recent shooting, which took place Sunday morning. One of those deputies, 29 year old Zackari Parrish, passed away in the shooting. Parrish is said to have been a Godly man, going to a church in Littleton.
Please pray for all those who have been affected, including the deceased deputy’s loved ones.
Do you know Jesus?
I understand how trite all of this might feel, as you go through so much pain that no one’s input could change it, one bit.
I don’t want to make your pain seem less than it is, at all. Instead, I want to point you to the One who knows it fully. David Weiss says in his essay on suffering through Schizophrenia, “If God isn’t up there in heaven watching and waiting for me to screw up—if instead he weeps when I weep and celebrates when I take just one step toward a new and better life—then who am I to judge others harshly?”
Christianity differs from every other religion in this: That God descended into humanity, lived a completely perfect life, and died for the sins of those who rejected and killed him– for the sins of all mankind. No other religion offers complete salvation by mere faith in a God who loved us enough to meet us where we are at, in all of our pain and darkness, and be called Emmanuel: “God with us.”
If you are hurting today and seeking God, know that He wants to meet you where you are– and save you from going to hell.
Learn more about this amazing, Loving God, here.
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
(Hebrews 13:3, NIV)
Please pray for…
- Those in Cairo, Egypt who are grieving and going through daily persecution for believing in and loving Jesus.
- Those in Nigeria who are suffering from attacks made by Boko Haram.
- Those in the USA who are suffering and oppressed from different acts of terrorism.
- Those in Cameroon, who are also suffering from Boko Haram and muslim terrorist attacks of all kinds.
- That those who are suffering, whether there is a clear culprit for it or not, would come to Jesus with it, and would receive His Love and Comfort.
Thank you for your prayers.