Hotel massacres in Mogadishu. Museum terror in Tunisia. War across the water in Yemen and refugees heading into Djibouti.
I joked the other day that perhaps the refugee boats going out of the Horn of Africa pass the refugee boats coming into the Horn of Africa, each group urging the other to turn back, each group determined and pressing on.
It wasn’t a funny joke.
And then there was Thursday. I checked the news and there had been a shooting at a university in northern Kenya, Garissa. 17 dead. 17 is awful.
It wasn’t over.
I checked the news again later.
One hundred and forty-seven.
Boqol iyo afartan iyo todoba.
Maybe if I keep writing it down it will stop being true. Maybe if I keep writing it down it will stop happening. False. The delusion of thinking writing it down will change anything. Words that get sucked away by grief, letters on a computer that do nothing but disappear into the black hole of hate and violence.
A room of students at prayer. Dormitories. Classrooms where students prepared to take exams. Muslims separated from non-Muslims and the non-Muslims shot in the back of the head. Shot in the back of the head by men who shoot Muslims when they are across the border in Somalia. In the aftermath, a photo of a student in hijab wailing, her arms wrapped tight around the bodies of two non-Muslim survivors. Students crumpled to the ground in pools of blood. Hiding in closets for two days. Hiding beneath dead bodies. Hospitals and mortuaries overwhelmed. The only university in the entire, rural, massive region.
And I don’t know what to say. I want to scream, ‘how can this seem right to anyone?’ How can people do this to each other? When did life lose its sacredness? When did it become so easy to slaughter people who disagree with you? And I struggle against anger and sorrow and yes, fear.
Why? What do they want? What can be gained? Why?
I read the news and then I had to run out the door, I was late for a Good Friday luncheon. I shouted to my husband, “What do they want?” and then I drove away. As I drove I could only whisper, “Jesus.” And, “mercy.” And, “Help me love them.” These are the only words that matter.
I’m finding it hard to breathe.
Jesus. Mercy. Help me love them. These are the words that will help me breathe.
(this post is titled after the post I wrote following the Westgate Mall attack)
*image credit: Oxfam East Africa – A mass grave for children in Dadaab” by Oxfam East Africa
Thanks for being our example in asking God how to love them. This is where “loving our enemy” is real, regardless of how we wish we didn’t have to name anyone “enemy”. “Enemy” seems to be a name they choose for themselves.
Thank you for this. As I am struggling with a personal situation. I do not want this situation to turn into seeing the person as my enemy. This prayer helps me to keep all in perspective. Lord help me to give mercy. Lord help me to love. Yet also I view the terrorist, to pray for them too to see HIS light.
It certainly isn’t easy, is it?
You so eloquently put into words what I have been thinking. Add to it, “When will it stop?” Must we wait for Jesus’ return? I often say that when we get to know others who are different from us, we become less afraid of those differences. I find it chilling that frequently these “others” are living amongst us, working alongside us, and attending school with us, only to seemingly turn on a dime and launch their madness and hatred upon us. Jesus, help me to choose love over fear.
Oh my goodness yes. When will it stop? It hurts even to ask the question.
I’m weeping for your family over the fear you must all have. Literally. And at the same time, I find myself ashamed that this same response compassion wasn’t immediately present from the news of this horrible experience. When I first read it all I felt was rage.
KILL THEM ALL!! I thought.
Not all Muslims of course, but all the terrorists. I know that this visceral response is a side of me I’m ashamed of. This is what “they” want, to divide, to conquer and master my instinct for simple answers to complex problems. The fact is that “they” are not “they” but us and it’s driving me crazy.
“Lord have mercy,” seems empty to me. The hatred seems real. I know that my perception isn’t the whole picture. Soothing my guilt doesn’t seem to work either. I don’t know what the solution is. However, I believe that the promise of resurrection is real and if it doesn’t feel right, so be it. I will trust in prayer and pray that your family might effect real change through the kindness of those you see all around you in Djibouti.
Thank you for your words. The writing takes me out of myself and allows me to pause and measure my response.
It is so hard Dan. You’re voicing so many of my internal thoughts as well, which is why I need this prayer for love and mercy. And AMEN to the resurrection! There is a hope I cling to that holds firm when around me all else gives way.
Thank you, Rachel. Your prayer touched me at multiple levels. Sometimes I feel so helpless to know how to respond to such situations. You put words to the inner turmoil and longing.
Non-Muslims, I believe they were Christians, shot because they were Christians, yes.
I loved your prayer, you are such an inspiration. Your writing really speaks to me, not because I am a djiboutian myself, but it’s real ( I have no other words for it ) you are not sugar-coating it and I can’t imagine how hard raising a family in another country may be.
Thanks Moun, I really appreciate hearing from you.
I have so many of the same questions as you. At those times where it doesn’t make sense- whether it is personal, my own life and ministry, or the events around the world- I have to remember that God will have victory at the end. I don’t understand the “middle parts” right now, but I choose to believe that His redemption will win.
Wow i like your love for the lord. I want someone to connect me to a church in Djibouti……my nameis Quinto otema, 25, Uganda. I believe God want me to serve Him in places like Djibouti.
Ok any one who knows any church or ministry in Djibouti can e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org. I want to travel there as soon as possible.