Monday, November 19, 2012
That Thanksgiving was in stark contrast to Thanksgiving in the U.S.
In Africa, we didn't observe Thanksgiving because it's not an African holiday. While friends and loved ones celebrated back home, the day was a regular workday for us.
In the autumn of 1995, my husband, Dave, and I set out on a three-and-a-half week business trip across West Africa. Thanksgiving Day, November 24, found us flying from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, to Bamako, Mali.
Our plane landed in Bamako after dark. We descended the stairs into the night, filed across the tarmac toward the terminal, and stood in a long line waiting to get in. Our only light shone from inside, through the windows. Waiting in hot darkness lent a feeling of otherworldliness to our situation.
Chaos filled the airport because thousands of Zairian refugees had fled violence back home and awaited flights out. One planeload had just taken off, and other refugees awaited the next available plane.
We waited a long time in stifling temperatures, clutching our bags, passports, and shot records, but our line stood still. Colleagues had warned us to expect numerous checkpoints where officials sometimes asked for bribes. Perhaps that, combined with the refugee situation, caused the delay.
I had lots of time to watch a boy about eight years of age in line ahead of us.
He stood alone. He carried no suitcase. He held no passport. He owned nothing but faded, threadbare clothes on his little body and oversized, worn shoes on his sockless feet.
I suspected he was a Zairian refugee. I wondered why he stood alone. Maybe his family flew out on the plane that just left, or even worse—maybe his family died in Zaire’s violence.
My heart went out to the little fellow and, standing behind him, I asked God to take good care of him.
A few minutes later, a uniformed man stepped out of the darkness. He, too, had noticed the lone boy. He loomed over the child and mumbled something in French. I couldn’t understand any of it.
After a brief conversation, the man took the boy by the hand and led him into the night behind a darkened building.
What would that man do with the boy? I sensed he had sinister intentions. Alarmed, I prayed even harder.
If God knows when even a sparrow falls, then surely He knew about that child. I held tight to the belief that God cared—oh, yes, He cared about that boy! (from Chapter 8, Grandma’s Letters from Africa)
Do not be afraid of those who kill the body
but cannot kill the soul.…
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny?
Yet not one of them will fall to the ground
outside your Father’s care.
Matthew 10:28-29, NIV