Wrapping Up the Week – 4.6.13

I write this as I prepare to leave tonight (Friday) from Logan Airport’s Terminal E – the International Terminal – on a Swiss flight to Istanbul by way of Zurich. My heart is full and anxious to be in a place where the Call to Prayer is my alarm clock. This week I will be writing in Istanbul but not blogging a lot – wanting to be fully present  in the midst of bazaars, the Call to Prayer, Turkish tile, and most of all – best friends and relatives (in this case they are one and the same!)

I have a wonderful series for Readers on Re-Entry from Joy Salmon, a fellow TCK/MK from Pakistan, as well as a couple of other fun things scheduled ahead so be sure to tune in to those pieces.

And I look forward to sharing Istanbul with you through writing and pictures!

Thank you for reading, for responding, for your wise comments. 

On to the week wrap-up.

On Thirsty India: I’ve heard about water wars in the future, but haven’t paid much attention. This article called Indian States Fight Over River Usage talks about a fight already going on. This quote made me sit down:

“India will need 1.5 trillion cubic meters (396 trillion gallons) of water per year by 2030, about double its existing supply and more than a fifth of the projected global demand, according to a 2010 report from the International Finance Corp. and the consulting firm McKinsey & Co. Yet as the population swells, India’s water supply per person is dropping.”

On AIDS in Africa: The words in the article boldly proclaim a message – The story you’ve heard on AIDS in Africa is wrong! This article pulls out facts, statistics, and narrative that you’ve probably not heard. It’s premise is that the narrative is wrong because it’s the church that is central to helping to control the AIDS epidemic in Africa. I read it. I loved it. This is the Church in action – I’m proud to be a part of the worldwide Church as I read this.

“There is no ambiguity in the data: Religion has been central to curbing the spread of HIV in local communities across sub-Saharan Africa. Measurable changes and improvements were detectable before PEPFAR and Gates dollars started rolling in. This leaves the puzzle of why this story has remained untold for so long while atypical stories of religious leaders pushing abstinence and burning condoms continue to circulate widely.”

And the last paragraph:

“In the standard narrative, ignorant or aimless Africans passively await guidance and assistance from plucky Westerners who ride in to help—often to intense applause. (Think of Nick Kristof’s regular columns praising earnest American volunteers.) Like Wainaina, we read such stories cautiously and suspiciously. Beyond being mildly offensive, these narratives simply don’t fit the Africa we know—a place, like any other, in which people converse about and respond to AIDS, famine, war, and plain-old daily hardships in contested and complex ways. On the world’s most religious continent, people use religious ideas, language, and organizations to address problems, big and small. This is the source of religion’s positive contribution to the recent improvements in Africa’s AIDS situation. Such stories need to be told.”

The article in its entirety is called Good News on AIDS in Africa. I urge you to read it and be encouraged!

On Pakistan: While we in America evangelize through Facebook status updates and symbols, Christians in Pakistan use a predawn procession through the streets on Easter. This is an incredible picture of living out faith in a place increasingly hostile to the Christian minority. It’s been a pleasure to connect online with the writer of this blog – Titus Presler. We are finding we have a great deal in common. May you be encouraged as you read this amazing article called “Predawn Easter Procession of 2500 Christians in Peshawar – ‘This is our Evangelism’

“So there you have it: a Christian community in an adverse environment that is nevertheless robust, ecumenically involved, and witnessing to the resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning.”~ Titus Presler

On the Book I’m Traveling With: Finding Calcutta by Mary Poplin. This book is affecting my heart. It’s based on this quote and so I leave you with this:


Have a great weekend and thank you! 

Indescribable Joy – Reflections from Surviving a Suicide Bomb

In the midst of such horror and hurt, Kate’s overwhelming memory was of the indescribable joy knowing she had saved her son.

On March 18, 2002, a suicide bomber attacked the international church in Islamabad, Pakistan. It felt personal as it was a church we had attended for a year and a half while living in Islamabad; a church my oldest brother had pastored; and it was a church where many of our friends worshiped. I will never forget the letter we received from two friends soon after the attack, written as she was recovering from an injury sustained during the event. This year marks the 10th anniversary of that event, an event that by their own admission changed our friends Jon and Kate Mitchell. They have graciously given permission for me to share this powerful story with hopes that the God who revealed himself to them, and continues to do so, will do the same for those who read the narrative. I urge you to pass this on for in Jon’s words “These things need to be shared!”

Today, March 18, 2012 is a special day for us.  It marks the 10th anniversary of a day that was both horrific and blessed for us.  10 years ago today, a suicide bomber attacked our church in Islamabad, changing our lives forever.

We were about half way through the service, the sermon having just begun.  Our son Daniel was downstairs in children’s church and Iain was in the sanctuary with us, sitting in Kate’s lap.  I remember the bomber bursting in through a rear door, and I can still see his silhouette as he tossed some objects in among the pews.  I instinctively ran to the back of the church, not sure what I was going to do when I got to him, but certain he had to be stopped.  Then the first grenade exploded, and a wave of panic swept over me.  “Kate and Iain are down there.  I’ve got to protect them”.  As I desperately raced back down the aisle towards where they were sitting there was another explosion in front of me.  I remember the heat of the blast, the sand and grit hitting my face and I can still see chairs flying through the air past me.  The explosions continued and when I got to our row of chairs I tried to peer through the smoke and dust to where Kate and Iain had been.  I didn’t know what I would find.

Kate and Iain were on the floor, lying side by side where we had been sitting.  Kate’s clothes were torn and she was bleeding, but the wounds looked superficial to me.  My heart rejoiced, and then I saw it.  There was an unexploded grenade just to Kate’s right.  Thank God for Russian grenades.   I helped her to her feet, grabbed Iain and ushered them out of the church before going in to help others get out of the building.  Each time I came out of the church I stopped to check on Kate and our boys, but I didn’t realize she had a serious lung injury until she told me she could taste blood in her mouth.

As I raced her and another injured family to Shifa hospital, I remember Iain stating “That was a bad bad man.  He did that on purpose”.  Even his three-year old mind was able to grasp what had just happened.

Later that evening, after Kate’s lung had been re-inflated we were recounting the events of the day, giving thanks for God’s hand of protection on us.  Kate had recognized the seriousness of the attack before I did, and she had thrown Iain on the floor and jumped on top of him. As she looked back towards the attacker she could see three grenades rolling across the floor towards her.  “Here I come Lord” she thought as she did her best to cover Iain with her body to shield him from what she knew was coming.  One grenade exploded under the chair in which I had been sitting.  The force of the blast threw her off of Iain, and when she opened her eyes her first thought was for him.  In her words

I wanted to save my boy.  I knew I was hurt badly, but when I looked down and saw that Iain was unhurt, in the midst of the pain and shock of the blast I felt an indescribable joy, knowing that I had taken the violence intended for him.

As Kate said that, it struck us both at the same time.  Wow, in the midst of such horror and hurt, Kate’s overwhelming memory was of the indescribable joy knowing she had saved her son.  Jesus loves us more than we could ever love Iain.  There must have been an element of joy in Christ’s suffering on the cross, knowing that he was taking the punishment intended for us. What a revelation!  We were reminded of Ephesians 1:17-18 where Paul prays that “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better.  I pray also, that eyes of your heart may be enlightened so that you may know the hope to which he has called you . . . ”

We have much to be thankful for and rejoice in.  We were given a Spirit of revelation, and the eyes of our hearts were opened that day.  The next year God gave us our beloved Sarah, new life and hope coming on the heels of death and destruction.  And God brought us to a place of safety and rest and a caring church here in Cary North Carolina.  Now he has privileged us with a call to minister to Christian ministries through Concentric Development.

We invite you to rejoice with us today.  We serve a mighty God who is still revealing himself, and may our blessing be a blessing to you.  These things are not to be kept to ourselves, and you are welcome to share this story with others.


Guest Post for Provoketive – Tahrir Square and a Clinic for the Wounded

I have the honor of occasionally writing for a new online magazine: Provoketive. In this article I look at a church in action and my sometimes fraught relationship with the church.

The news articles that come daily into my inbox are quite naturally those that reflect my interests. From years of living in Pakistan and the Middle East the news in that region is top of my list. I also have a deeper  reason. There is a particular piece of my heart in Cairo, Egypt……READ MORE HERE!