Life here has been a bit of an emotional rollercoaster these past few weeks as there have been 2 suicide bomb attacks here in the city, quite close to our compound (about a 5 minute drive for both of them). The first one was targeting the police station and a police training academy, then the most recent incident was this past saturday morning at the central market. There has been no official claim of responsibility from any terrorist organization but intelligence strongly suspects Boko Haram as the force behind them.
|2 of our national staff lost relatives in this suicide bomb |
attack at the Central Market in N'Djamena.
Life has changed here, maybe forever.
Chad was on the 'no go' list even before we arrived two years ago....mainly due to its surrounding neighbours, as all of those countries are in turmoil whether from terrorist activity or civil war (Libya, Niger, Nigeria, Sudan, Central African Republic, Cameroon) and it is believed that some of those conflicts could filter into Chad through its porous borders (although the borders have tightened up significantly since Chad joined the fight against Boko Haram in Nigeria in Jan 2015).
So, how does this play out for MAF Chad practically? Well, for starters, our security level has been upped from 1 to 3 in the past three weeks and we now have a list of things to prepare and have on hand just in case things escalate further....like a 'Go Bag' which is a pre-packed bag containing essential documents, water, food, clothes to take for a quick get-a-way; as well, we have a 2 week supply of food and water in our houses in case we have to stay put for a while, extra cash, and we are stocking up on fuel for the generator to have 2 weeks worth at all times as well....so ya....things like that. We put these measures into place so that we are not taken by surprise if we have to leave quickly. It's good to be prepared.
As calm as this may sound as you read the words above, emotionally for me, this is worrisome, scary, stressful, exhausting, and also very sad for the people of Chad....and I know I am not the only one who thinks this way.
I flip flop back and forth between being totally calm about it all and then having slight freak outs.
Some changes to our way of life have made things a bit more difficult in our day to day such as, we shouldn't go to any hotels or restaurants anymore (and there was already no where to go to relax as a family except those!!!), we have to go everywhere in two's, we have to provide a detailed outline of our movements should we leave the compound, and we can't take the kids with us when we shop (coordinating someone to watch them while we are gone--hard when there's only 2 families on the compound now and we both have to go together!). You might read those and think 'oh, those aren't really a big deal' and I would agree with you as they are more inconvenient than stressful; however, I don't think it is these actual changes that are the stressful, worrisome part....I think it is the idea of implementing these changes under the threat of being caught up in the next random attack....and wondering where and when that might be and if you might be there when it happens. That is essentially the goal of terrorism, and I can tell you, it works.
So, what can we do? Well, I guess we could call it quits and live in Canada for a while until things either calm down or it is clear we shouldn't return OR we could stay and learn how to function in this new kind of life. It's difficult to make that decision but I don't think we need to make that kind of call at this point. We have to wait and see how this all plays out....is this the new norm for Chad? Suicide bomb attacks in public places on a weekly basis? or will this pass as Boko Haram are slowly defeated in Nigeria? We have put safety and security measures in place and I have full confidence in the leadership in MAF both here in Chad and at the home office in England, to make the right decisions, in fact, I know they err on the side of caution.
But as much as we can place our trust in security measures and good leadership, the ONE place I am placing 100% confidence in, is God. He called us to Chad, He has sustained us here through a tough first year and brought us back despite that, and we believe that He will make it clear if we should leave and He will give us peace and wisdom if we stay.
One of the thoughts that fear creates in my head is the fear of dying....not so much the dying part, but the 'how' I die part. I have seen and read in the news the awful acts of terrorism against civilians by Boko Haram and against Christians carried out by ISIS....crucifixions, burning people alive, drowning groups of people in a cage....sick, sick, horribly evil ways of murdering innocent people in the name of religion and that freaks me right out. But then I know that God never promised to protect and keep safe our lives here on earth, in fact, it is in the crazy, stressful times when we seek God most desperately and isn't that what is important? Seeking God, being changed by Him, being refined into who he wants us to be? And He can only do that if we cling to Him like he is our everything, something very hard to do when you have everything you need. What He promises is that he will guard our lives for eternity....which means we will die here on earth but live forever with Him in heaven. That hope is crucial for those who are facing life and death situations....
I read this compilation of verses the other day and it was so fitting to our situation here....and a good reminder that nothing can separate us from God, and that our lives are His.....and if we live, we live for Him and if we die, we die for Him. I read this as I was having random scenarios play out in my mind of us being caught up in the next attack or us having to leave suddenly or one of our teammates being killed.....I know....crazy thoughts but fear does crazy things to your mind....
"I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that He is able to guard safely all that I have given Him until the day of His return. For I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from His love. Death can't, and life can't. The angels won't, and all the powers of Hell itself cannot keep God's love away. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, or where we are-–high above the sky, or in the deepest ocean--nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God. The love of God demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ when He died for us. I have kept safe within your family, all of these you gave me. For Jehovah enjoys his people. How happy I was with what he created. God is so rich in mercy, He loved us so much that....He gave us back our lives again. The greatest love is shown when a person lays down his life for his friends. God has bought you with a great price. So use every part of your body to give glory back to God, because He owns it. Living or dying we follow the Lord. Either way, we are His. "
Wow. Don't you just love it when God speaks through his word, directly to you, and it was exactly what you needed to hear? A-mazing! This was such a good reminder.....and the peace it gave to my heart....it was enough to realign my thoughts from fear to trust, for that moment. I am so thankful for His loving care.
I know it will be a daily, intentional decision to keep reminding myself of the hope He has given us, as fear has a way of creeping in and taking over.
So, we are taking it day by day....not knowing what is to come, but preparing wisely for it as best we can, trusting in His plan and appreciating your prayers.