Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Confessions of a Prayer Warrior

While I was a child, still living there, Nigeria broke out into a civil war known as the Biafran War. By the time the war broke out, my family resided in central Nigeria in a town called Ogbomoso. This part of Nigeria was spared the worst of the fighting and for the most part our days were peaceful in spite of the war.

Even so, tensions in general were high all over Nigeria. Tribal infighting, which had always been a problem were at a peak. At one point, a rumor circulated around my town that there was to be a take over of the local government. Rumor had it that the king of Ogbomoso was going to be killed and his body dragged up and down the main road of the town.

The mission had two compounds; a hospital and seminary compound. Usually, the hospital compound housed missionaries associated with the hospital and vice versa. The two compounds were adjacent with the hospital and seminary in the front of both compounds and the residences behind the hospital and seminary farther away from the town. Thus, the two large facilities offered a bit of a protective barrier from any unrest that might occur in town. This was true for all missionary houses accept one. That house was right next to the seminary and just across the road from the hospital. The driveway of the house fed into the main road of the town. This house happened to be where my family was residing at the time. It often sat empty and if occupied, it usually housed a missionary that was associated with the seminary, as it offered very close access to the seminary. However, for the year my family occupied it, there was no house available on the hospital compound and this was the seminary home that was the closest to the hospital.

The rumors of the coming riot concerned my father deeply. So many thoughts ran through his mind. The king’s dead body could be dragged right in front of our home and we children might see such an awful thing. There may be an angry mob accompanying who could see our house and try to pillage or burn it and harm his family. So, my father chose to move the family in with another missionary on the hospital compound whose house was safely behind the hospital.

This was the plan but there still remained much uncertainty. My parents did not know how long our stay would be. If our house was burned down, we might find ourselves there for a very long time. My parents did not know how much to pack or what to do with the belongings that they were leaving in the house. They decided to hide as much as they could. They had brought their wedding silver with them to Nigeria which they buried in the back yard. (And yes, as a child in the heart of Africa, I ate every meal with sterling silver utensils–mine was an unusual existence.)

During all of the busy activities of that day, my older sister, about nine years old, did not show the least bit of anxiety. She sang and whistled and occasionally, she would twirl around and dance a little. Her complete lack of concern frustrated my father. He felt like his world might be coming to an end, yet she sang happily. Finally, he questioned her in a sharp voice, “Don’t you realize the grave danger we are in?”

My sister looked up at him with her big blue eyes and replied in her child like way, “But Daddy! I heard you preach last Sunday and you said to cast all our cares on Him because He cares for us.” My dad realized in that instance that the one with the inappropriate response to the situation was him, not her.

As it turned out, there was a riot in my town that night. The king’s dead body was dragged down the street in front of my house but we were safely in the home of another missionary. I can remember hearing that it happened but I did not see it. I and my family found shelter in the storm. Our house was not harmed and a couple days later we moved back in safely.

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