Last week, our spring break at Hillcrest began. We wanted to take a few days away as a family. We thought that if we left on Monday, we could safely travel to the capital, Abuja, for a couple of days at the Sheraton. We believed they would announce the results of the presidential election on Tuesday when we were already safely in Abuja. Abuja is usually calmer than Jos during these things and if everything got really bad, the US embassy is in Abuja!
However, because the election was a landslide victory for the Christian candidate Goodluck Jonathon, they announced the victory two hours into our journey to Abuja. We were travelling with 4 other cars full of missionaries and as we travelled we started hearing reports of rioting and seeing military stops and roads closed. We decided it was best to carry on to Abuja since we were hearing of riots behind us so we tried to carry on as quickly as we could.
Once we reached the market right outside of Abuja, we were told to turn back by all the cars in front of us turning around. We pulled to the side of the road and found that rioting had taken over the streets a mile up. We sat and all talked about what to do next. We knew the hotel was 40 minutes ahead of us and home was 3 hours behind us with rioting in either direction. So we decided to sit there on the side of the road.
After about an hour, we got reports that things were better and we could continue on. John and I believe that if we handle things well, our kids will learn to handle things well. So even when we are scared or upset, we try to convince our kids that everything is a fun adventure. So John turn to the kids and said, “Alright guys, put on your helmet of salvation and get down low. We are driving into the battle zone and we are trusting God to take us through. When we get through, this is going to make a great story, so remember everything God does for us today!”
We put our most confident drivers in front, and we slowly drove forward staying close to the median in case we needed to turn around quickly. We drove this way for about 5-10 miles.
We were second in the caravan when we came right upon the rioting. The car in front of us was literally 3 feet from the rocks being thrown. Fires were being lit all around us and in the center of the road youths were throwing boulders at any car that dared to pass. We saw youths running with guns although we didn’t see any shooting.
Our friends in front of us and we turned as quickly as possible and then blocked traffic so the other cars in our group could turn too. We then drove a couple of miles back and parked on the side of the road again. We sat for another hour and waited for things to calm down again. The worst part of this whole story is that I had to go to the bathroom!!! You do not want to know about the nasty broken down building I had to climb into for privacy!! But suffice it to say, I was definitely not the first person to use that stinky place!!!
When we drove on, we all stayed together towards the median and slowly inched our way to the hotel through bumper to bumper traffic, but this time, the military was everywhere. That made us feel safer, but we had to witness some pretty cruel brutality towards anyone and everyone who did not move as fast as the soldiers wanted them to move.
We finally made it to Abuja safely and we were able to enjoy a few days of relaxing and swimming at the hotel. We even got to see a couple movies. There are no movie theatres in Jos so it is a real treat for us to see a movie in Abuja.
As John and I reflected on that day’s events, we spoke about how amazed we were that although there were a few scary moments that day, we didn’t walk away scared or upset. Our kids didn’t seem scared, but instead seemed to find joy in telling everyone about their adventure!
If someone had told me before we came here all that would happen around us, I would have been scared to death to come, but now that we are here, I am not scared. If anything, we grow bolder as we watch God provide for us and protect us. It is amazing the way God gives you the grace you need for the moment in the moment. It is also amazing that instead of wanting to leave Nigeria, we see daily why God wants us here. Christians are being murdered around this country simply because a Christian won an election. We need to stand with the Christians and we need to continually preach the message of Grace that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The only hope to a lost and dying world!