Tribal War Fear
Since third or fourth grade I have been reading mission books. I LOVE a good story, but especially a TRUE story. When things start happening in our lives, like I think belongs in one of those books, I shake my head in wonder. And wide eyed anticipation. And sometimes fear. I mean we are almost to the year two thousand and twenty. And my husband posts yesterday on Facebook that hundreds of tribal men are lining the road with bows and arrows, spears, machetes, and axes (near Heberima, a 45 minute commercial flight and a 20 minute motorcycle ride from our city). They are painted in tribal war readiness and have pigs teeth piercing the septum of their noses. What!!!?! How was your husband’s day on the job?
We received some “red flags” on Sabbath afternoon when texts started coming into Darron’s phone from Papua students from that area (that are studying here in town). Warning Darron to be careful when travelling. This is unusual. So, of course, Darron proceeded to follow up. By Sunday morning the story emerged that is was a relatively small disagreement and kept escalating until a double cab 4 X 4 pickup was burned and several people received serious wounds due to axe and machete lacerations. Several reliable sources reported it was safe for Darron to still come. His goal was/is to pour the cement floor on the Heberima jungle chapel. So Darron went soon thereafter. By Sunday evening Darron messaged to say that the locals wanted him to stay in the town of Wamena until the tribal war stand off settled down. How is a missionary wife supposed to react? Let’s try, “OK Honey! Be safe!!!”
The true reality is I am not really afraid. I mean piecing together all the information I know that these men are mainly shouting and in a tribal war standoff. Government peace troops were brought in and the offenders were going to meet with the police. Darron has already been into the village two times since arriving. He writes, “They can be shouting at one another one minute and giving me a big bear hug the next. Both sides hug on me and laugh with me and tell jokes. Like any tribal situation there is centuries of long history. Many don’t really know why they hate their neighboring tribes but the prejudice is bigger than life.”
So I am not afraid. I. Am. Not. Afraid. Yet how would you feel if your husband, son, or father was dodging friendly tribal warrior men? I mean, seriously? Really? REALLY? This is like something out of a mission book, that I was reading over 35 years ago.
Which brings me to the bigger question of how do I live in this uncertain third world with peace? How do I face some of my worse fears? One of those being that my husband will die one day. Possibly in the hands of a non friendly tribal man. More probably in a ……. you really don’t want to hear my mind wander on this subject.
I have had to grapple with this fear over the last six and a half years. It has been a profound spiritual journey. And on Saturday I listened to a message that resonated deep in my soul on this FEAR topic. It was by Beth Moore on the topic of Esther and specifically when Esther states and “And If I perish, I perish”. Beth in her teaching challenged me to think about “If _____________ (insert my worst fear), then __________.”
And so on Saturday (before Darron received texts and before he flew away) I sat in my living room and thought, “If Darron dies serving as a missionary, then God.” Meaning If Darron dies, then it will hurt so bad. I will be confused and in much turmoil. I will cry and cry. I’ll get angry. I’ll feel such loss. But then what? I’ll wipe my tears. And then what? Hope and courage will come through: prayer, friends, the Bible, songs and more. And then what? IT WILL STILL HURT for probably most of the rest of my life. Yet THEN life will eventually become meaningful and doable again because of GOD.
I recognized that as long as I believe in different fears, then Satan will use them over and over again to hassle me. By releasing this one fear to God and saying, “No matter what happens to my husband, I will trust you God.” Is a much more freeing prayer than, “God, take care of Darron and don’t ever let anything bad happen to him (implied: as long as you answer my prayers, my way, I’ll trust you)”.
Vulnerably this is a little part of my story. My story to freedom from fear. My story to releasing my husband to work in crazy settings and to be at peace. Who knew that my fear challenge would be tested in just over 24 hours with a massive tribal war standoff??? Do you need the opportunity to fill in the blanks? “If __________________, then _______________.” I trust that when you really think about it and recognize where God is in your story, that He too will fill all your last blank spots. May God bless us all and find us all faithful, no matter what. Because at the end of the day, I am so glad that tribal war fear and other fears are not keeping us from here. Are you doing what you are supposed to be doing or are you holding back because of your own self, that often is “bigger than life”?