(Read Part one and two if you missed them)
Sometimes, I jokingly tell Alyssa, "I'm scared to join your team."
I laugh, but actually I am serious. I think laughing makes it easier.
A couple years before Mark and Alyssa came to Dar to start the theological training program, another family with ReachGlobal arrived to do the same thing. They were having a lot of success getting things started, but then two of their kids developed a mysterious, chronic illness. Then the wife developed an even more mysterious, serious illness. Eventually, they had to return to the States.
After arriving in Dar two years ago, within months, Alyssa developed a debilitating auto-immune condition. It got so bad that for a while she was completely bed-ridden. Now she takes powerful medication (with a lot of side effects), but even then she often only has about 6-8 "good hours" of each day when she can be out of bed. You wouldn't know it, because she has an amazing attitude and never complains, but she lives in constant pain.
And that all happened within months of arriving back in Dar....to start a theological training program. Coincidence? Maybe.
But even weirder is the snakes.
About three months ago, Mark and Alyssa discovered a snake in their house. This does happen every once in a while in Africa. In the 10 years we lived in Dar, we had a snake in our house once. We've seen a couple others in our yard.
Okay...that happens. They killed it.
But then another appeared. And another. And another.
In three months, they've killed about 15 snakes in their house. Twice, they had exterminators come out. Neither found any evidence of a nest or could figure out where they were coming from.
The snakes were identified as boomslangs. Extremely poisonous. Not native to the area. Appearing, so it would seem, out of nowhere.
The truth is, that we are moving to a city where witchcraft and curses and dark magic are not just things you pretend about on Halloween. Animism is the dominant worldview of the majority of people, even many who call themselves Muslim or Christian.
Obviously, our enemy doesn't like the fact that we're teaching church leaders how to study the Bible for themselves, that we are saved by grace and not works, and that a good preacher is not defined by touching people and making them fall over.
So yeah, when I think about what has already happened to the people on our team, I am scared. If I let my imagination get ahead of me, I am terrified.
Sometimes I too ask the question, Why are you going back? Why on earth are you going back?
Greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.
But I am also excited. Because if he must fight that hard against what this team is doing, then they must be doing something right. And I get to join in.
"There are no 'if's' in God's world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety--let us pray that we may always know it!" (Corrie ten Boom)