June 28, 2017

The Spur: Peace and safety in a high risk zone

By Marcia Laycock

“This is not a safe place.” The Australian director of the Pacific Orientation Centre paced the floor like a military drill sergeant, his eyes flashing, scanning to connect with each of us. “Keep your wits about you! Stay alert! You women should never go anywhere alone.”
I gulped. We were going to live in Papua New Guinea for a full year. The reality of our situation hit and when we were assigned a house in the “high risk” zone of the mission centre, I didn’t sleep very well. Perhaps that was because we slept with a large baseball bat beside the bed. Our doors were locked day and night, even when we were in the house. When I had to go to the market, I made sure at least one of my neighbours could walk with me. I did not let my children out of my sight.
Then, just as darkness fell one day, there was a knock on the door. We peered through the window at a young national boy, about sixteen years old. In rapid Melanesian Pidgin he explained he had gotten locked into the centre. He was looking for relatives. He wanted to use our phone. My husband told him to stay there and called security. I will never forget the look of terror on that boy’s face when the security guards roared up and took him away. I went to bed that night feeling miserable. After a long night praying, I made a decision. I was not going to live like this anymore. It was making a wreck out of me, and it did not honor God.
I made a call to the security office to make it clear the young man on our doorstep had done nothing wrong. I was relieved when they informed me he had been delivered to his relatives, unharmed. Then I walked to the market, alone. I learned the names of the women I bought vegetables from, and lingered to chat with the men selling baskets. They told me about their villages, their children and their gardens. Over time, we grew to know and to love the people. Over time, we learned to value them more than the possessions in our house, temporary things which would eventually be taken from us by the normal progression of life. We learned that being harmed, even being killed, was not to be dreaded so much as living fearfully.
The possibility of violence and danger surrounds us wherever we go. Our only true security lies in knowing God is in control. Psalm 37:3 says – “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” We are able to live as peacefully as sheep grazing in rich grass, no matter where we are, when we know there is a loving Shepherd watching over us. We are able to live lives filled with joy, not fear, when we trust Him and act in ways that honor Him.

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Marcia Laycock is the pastor’s wife at Blackfalds Faith Community Church – www.faithcommunitychurch.ca. Visit Marcia’s website too – www.marcialeelaycock.com.

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