"Sleeping in the open was their best defense against the faceless threat sweeping the country."
Fear and the Gospel
"In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety." -Psalm 4:8
Veronica curled her body tighter into her sister Grace’s back, soaking up what little warmth she could in the bitterly cold night.
Every twig that cracked in the dark forest, each sigh and creak of the branches overhead brought her to stark alert, listening... waiting...
The blanket beneath her helped keep the sand and cruel, meandering ants from bothering them, but it did little to protect the girls and their mother from the crispness of the wind.
Sleeping in the open was their best defense against the faceless threat sweeping the country. A country seized by the madness of mass hysteria and violence.
When the rumors started spreading of gas attacks and lynching, it seemed something exclusive to the city. Something nefarious, but far away.
However, as girls went missing in nearby towns, when friends were beaten to death in the streets, it all became far too real... and very, very close to home.
Sleeping in a small hut with no way to escape was a risk not worth taking, even when facing the biting cold of the night.
The flavor of fear is metallic and cold, twisting and searing it’s way from the bile in your mouth to the weakness in your knees and drilling roots deep, deep downward that hold you frozen to the ground.
It can seize you in an instant, tearing you from sanity with no apology or remedy. An owl flies overhead, the shadow like someone leaping from the trees. Dozing becomes heart stopping fear.
Fear steals your sleep, sours your stomach, and turns your joy into gripping grief. Fear has no grace, no peace, no mercy.
As Veronica tried to sleep, she remembered what her mother, a missionary teacher, had told them about Jesus - His protection and His grace in their lives.
“Perfect love casts out fear,” she told them.
“Then why am I still afraid??” she cried out in her heart to the vast darkness around them.
When Veronica moved into her foster home, she was fleeing a life of physical abuse and child slavery. She knew things would be harder with her new family. Food had to be grown and gathered in the harsh African bush.
Water was hauled from a hand dug well. Her new mother was strict about education and discipline. But she also knew grace and love when she saw it.
When your life is a daily practice of suffering, abuse, and counterfeit happiness, grace is a miracle that you seize with both hands.
Fear or peace; mobs or grace; destruction or Jesus.
As Veronica wiggled deeper into the sand, she knew that she had chosen well. Whatever terrors the night held for her, her family knew Jesus. “The Lord is my helper, and I will not be afraid,” she thought. And she could sleep with that.
Dora and two of her girls.
Please keep Dora, the missionary-teacher foster-mother, and her girls in your prayers. They are outcasts in their village as they are from another tribal area. This leaves them vulnerable to exploitation and attack.
We have been able to help them with a dog and more secure doors, but ultimately they need God’s grace and protection as they serve their community against all odds in a very dark time for Zambia.
ITMI partners, Timothy and Ashley Keller work to equip Zambian believers with a Biblical worldview through as many avenues as possible.
As believers are equipped and supported for the work of God's people and growing in Christ, they begin living out their Biblical calling among those around them in various ways.
For some, this means preaching and teaching in their village. For others, like Dora, this means taking in children in need, educating them and teaching them about Jesus.
About the Author
ITMI partner, Ashley Keller lives a missionary-life in Kabwe, Zambia with her husband Timothy and their four hyper-active children. She enjoys adventure, playing with her kids (especially when that can double with adventure), pretending she’s a kitchen scientist, and finding natural, simple ways of living. Ashley blogs about her experiences and ministry at www.KellersC23.com/blog.
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