A hymn of praise rang through the open rafters, a song made more beautiful by the stark devastation which surrounded us.
Six buildings and not one of them was left untouched.
A rope hung from the cross where the mob had tried but failed to pull it down.
A window shuttered closed became the recipient of a glaze of glass melting from the window above.
A beautiful building about to be dedicated was burned and broken right down to the newly tiled floor.
A man stood beside the goat he rescued from the mob, behind him the Sunday School room he taught in but was unable to save.
And this was only one church among almost 70 across the country.
Where does one even begin to wrap one's mind around what happened here?
Today, I sat with my children telling the story of Jacob running away from Laban, headed back to the land God had given to Abraham and the land he had promised to Jacob himself. We reflected together on what Jacob must have been feeling. Fear, no doubt, as this return meant facing a brother who had wanted to kill him. "But why would he have been afraid when God promised him that the land would be his?" one little guy asked. Good question. And so we talked about how we need to hold on to God's promises when we are afraid. Then I just threw the question out there, "Is there anything that you are afraid of?" It was quiet for quite a few seconds and I almost moved on but one little girl raised her hand and confessed, "I'm afraid they will keep on burning churches."
It's hard to say what fears reside in the hearts of those who have been affected by these events. But as I listened to my students' fears God brought Romans 8:35-39 to mind and I shared it with them,
And so we hold on to His promises because He has been faithful through the ages.
And while we are at it we may as well fill those open rafters with a song of praise or two!