The hausa word for trouble is Wahala. It is a fun word to say it kind of rolls of your tongue. It is the best way to describe best what is going on here in Jos, Nigeria.
A few days before Christmas, John was at the bank and some Nigerians told him he should get out of town because there was going to be trouble on Christmas. Of course we take our direction from God rather than random, well meaning people at banks, so we went ahead as planned to spend our Christmas here in Jos.
On Christmas Eve, we were together with several missionary families for a soup pot luck, when we heard around 7 explosions one right after another. We all told ourselves it was probably fireworks, but within minutes we started hearing reports of bombs going off around town. Many of them were near the Evangel Hospital compound where several of our missionaries live. By God’s grace, not one of our SIM missionaries were there at the time of the bomb and we felt blessed that we were all together. Some missionaries were unable to return home that night and spent Christmas morning in our SIM guest house.
The next day, we learned that our staff member, David, lost his brother in the bombing. Around 80 people died on Christmas Eve in Jos. I don’t know how many people where injured.
For the next week, we all stayed close to home not knowing if there would be any retaliation fighting. We heard stories of fighting here and there, but for the most part, the military seemed to gain control quickly whenever fighting sprung up.
We planned to spend a few nights in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, for a little vacation over New Year’s. We took with us a Korean missionary family who had just arrived in Jos 4 months ago. The husband is a doctor so he had spent the last week amputating limbs. His family really needed rest, so we went together. We had a nice time of resting and swimming in the pool. Then on New Year’s Eve, bombs went of in Abuja. Once again, God protected us and we were nowhere near the bombing sites.
Since we have been back in Jos, we have not been able to travel much. We keep getting alerts on our phone of where trouble is in town and many of the shops have closed down because they fear the fighting will start again. That has made getting food and supplies harder, but we are extremely blessed to be able to stock up on food and supplies for times such as this.
Last week, we had our SIM conference out in Miango. A town about 45 minutes away. We had a great time of learning and refreshment. Then when we returned home, we drove right through a large crowd of people gathered around the road and wondered what was going on. We then saw military coming towards us. We made it home safely, but then heard that we were one of the last cars to be allowed through. The military shut down the road because of fighting and all others cars were turned away. The missionaries behind us were turned around and had to drive over an hour out of their way just to get back into town. Life is never boring in Nigeria!
While in Miango we heard that the Nigerian government mandated that all the schools should shut down for a month so that the government can use the schools to register people to vote in the upcoming election, so we are homeschooling our kids right now. That makes it a little crazy around our house, but I feel blessed to have my kids near me when things in town are still tense. It also gives John a little time of less work at school so he can work on loading another container. I have really been amazed the way God has been using him to help so many missionaries bring in items that they need for ministry.
I went to the brothels last week and found that most of the ladies we have been building relationships with have left town. We don’t know if they will come back or if they have moved on to another brothel in another city. My prison ministry is however booming. Last monday, there were 13 ladies and one small baby in the prison for my bible study.
Things are crazy here, and we are preparing for things to be crazy until the elections are over in April, but we feel a real peace. I know that is funny to say that we feel peaceful, but I think we are starting to understand that “peace that passes all understanding.” Despite all that goes on around us, we don’t feel fearful, but peaceful. We know this is our home and this is where God has us for now. We just pray that God will be able to use our presence here in this craziness to bring honor and glory to Him!