Wearing their distinctive, matching wrappers and singing enthusiastically, ladies streamed down the Miango road yesterday like a giant, colorful caterpillar. As they walked, making a statement to all who saw them, they met other groups of women coming from their homes and churches. Most carried on their heads gifts to share: grains, plastic bowls, clothing, cooking pots, fruits and vegetables. These women were on a mission of mercy, culminating their week of ECWA Women’s Fellowship meetings. I was humbled to be among them.
Four nights previously, around 11 pm the night of Monday, October 25th, a band of youth indiscriminately attacked the small village of Rengwenku, 5 miles from KA. Randomly and maliciously, they burned homes and attacked people as they slept. Men from Miango, including several from KA, heard the shots and went to help. The attackers had fled into the surrounding woods, leaving behind them a wake of destruction: 21 houses burned and six women and children killed, five from one home.
Aching with the news, we wondered and prayed how the Body of Christ in this community could respond. Church, village, and government leaders met together to discuss how others could help. True to form, women in the 40 churches of the surrounding community took initiative and stepped forward to address the issue. They encouraged women to convene early Friday morning and walk together to Rengwenku bringing with them what they could to help the affected villagers.
I arranged to drive out to the site with missionary co-worker Jinsook Kang, and David Rabwo, a long-time Nigerian friend. On the way, we filled the van with other ladies heading to the same place. Women coming from miles away had already been walking since 6 am. Their antiphonal singing was unifying and uplifting. The number alone, around 800 women, was staggering. As often happens when I join God where He’s already at work, I began to feel part of something far bigger than I’d imagined!
Veering off the main road and continuing two more miles on a rutted, dirt road, we stopped to pray as a large group before entering the village. One lady reminded us that when a member of the Body suffers, we are all affected. We could also, together, be part of the healing. “True courage,” I’d read recently, “is manifest when people choose to take a difficult or dangerous course of action because it is the right thing to do. It is looking beyond yourselves to what is best for another.”
Arriving at the village, we walked around in smaller groups to view the damage and greet the families who had lost loved ones. Though a sober stoicism seemed to pervade the area, we prayed and offered comfort and encouragement. Women gradually gathered together in a large central area close to the burned homes and piled up the bags of goods they had brought. More singing and prayer was offered while women sat quietly on grassy areas. People’s prayers reflected a simple, uncluttered faith that God was still in control:
“Even rich people would not have been able to pay to save these lives; you who are still alive today are here to give you another chance to make your way right with God or because your life and ministry for Christ’s purposes has not been completed.”
“Those personally affected may ask, “why us?” I pray God will open your eyes like He did to Elisha’s servant so you will see how He is at work and praise Him.”
“May God bring beauty out of the ashes of these homes. May God restore what has been lost like He did for Job. Where there were grass roofs before, now may they have zinc.”
Sitting among them, I was struck by the incredible power of these sincere women: With one mind they quickly rose to the occasion and mobilized action. With one heart they compassionately, generously gave what they had. With one voice they sang in praise, believing God would bring good out of evil. With one goal in mind, they shared the love and hope they had in Christ.
May God turn the tragedy of Rengwenku into testimonies of His saving grace and power.
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