Normally, I try to keep things more or less upbeat on our little blog. You know, a little sarcasm here, a little tongue-in-cheek comment there, maybe a short anecdote, centered around one of my countless ineptitudes. Sometimes though, stuff comes up in this work that just doesn’t lend itself towards humor. Like a few weeks ago, when Francis died. That wasn’t funny. I guess I could have tried to put a funny twist on it or something, but then, of course, I would have been being a total jerk.
When people who really want to hear about Jesus die before they are able to, it isn’t something that should be made light of. It’s like the antithesis to humor. It sucks all the chuckles out of the room and leaves nothing but sadness. When a hopeful, desiring, REAL person dies before he is able to hear the truth that would free him from his bondage to sin, and bring him back into a relationship with the God who loves him, there are no pleasant words to be said. That person has died without hope, and there is nothing that can make it better.
And before you think that I’m still just dwelling on the past, the reason that I’m being such a downer and bringing all this up again, is that another one of our villagers died this week. Actually, “died” doesn’t really do justice to the situation this time. One of our village men was stabbed with spears and hacked and dismembered by machetes until he was killed. However bad that sort of death might appear in writing, I can assure you, it’s much worse in real life. Our partners just came back from the funeral.
He had been away from our village when he was killed, visiting family down on the river. While he was there, he ended up going along with a delegation that was trying to straighten a dispute that had come up when some guys from another people group robbed the local Catholic priest (who is a relative of his). It was supposed to be a peaceful exchange. They’d marked the day for the meeting and everything. Somehow though (details are still sketchy), things got out of hand, and he and another unarmed man, were brutally killed by men from this other group.
Our community is confused and scared and angry. The whole Iski language group is. They say that this sort of thing has never happened in Iski-land before. People get beat up, people steal, people destroy each other’s stuff, but murder? They don’t do that. Even when they used to have wars with neighboring groups (like, 40 or 60 years ago), they wouldn’t think about killing someone outside of war-time.
We’re all really feeling the loss. This guy was awesome. He was often one of the first to come help with a project, and one of the last to leave. He was faithful, level-headed, and kind. He was 35, with a wife and six kids. We were thinking that he would probably end up being one of the leaders in the church someday. He wanted to hear the teaching SO BAD, but, just like Francis, he died before he could. His wife is devastated. She’s asking, “Where will his spirit go, since he died before he heard God’s Talk?”
The situation surrounding his death is still active. We’ve heard talk that boatloads of fighters are coming from this other people group to attack the Iski along the river. We’ve also heard talk that the Iski are gathering together to fight back. Many people from our village went down for the funeral, and it’s sounding like they might be staying to join in the fight. It’s hard to know what’s going to happen.
Please be in prayer for the Iski and their enemies. The more of them that fight, the more of them will die. And the more of them that die, the fewer there will be to hear of Jesus and all that He has done to free them from the sin that’s ruling and reigning in their lives.