“But he might die of disease! He might be eaten by cannibals! My brother cannot go on another Bible translating stint. It was enough that he went to Mongolia to give that barbaric tongue a new edition, why does he want to go to Congo?”
“You just had a bad experience, Mum,” said Rebecca “because you’re allergic to mosquitoes.”
It was true. When Marian had gone on her short term mission to Mexico, she had developed a clamped throat and an appalling headache. This was on the first day one of the galling pests had slipped through her net. This had caused a terrible rent in her faith, and it was months before she would even see her Christian friends. Although her daughter had implored her to trust in God’s care, she had but one response. “If I’m protected by God, why didn’t anyone tell the mosquito?” Thereafter she pleaded with every missionary to abandon the quest.
“I am sorry Mum, but Uncle Jack is quite determined to go. He did not have any trouble in Mongolia, and this is almost entirely due to God’s providence. He is certainly adamant and when you consider Jesus’ 2007 years of experience, Uncle Jack’s fifty-two doesn’t sound like much.” Rebecca was a hardy ally to her uncle. If he wanted more adventure, she could accept that and if it got him in God’s favour so much the better. She had visited him in the Orient and seen the lovely squiggles he had written which represented the Holy Scriptures. Now if his mind was still supple there was nothing short of death that would stop his new project. A cat would be as likely to find a dinosaur bone as physical troubles would be to stop him. Jack would work and live in a city apartment where members of local church would come to help. He would be fine. Yet Marian would not believe this.
She acknowledged that she was probably paranoid. She went to a psychiatrist for treatment. She saw her pastor and a local counsellor. But she could not shake the feeling that trouble would come from her brother’s irrational mission. When he caught cholera she genuinely believed he would die. Yet he recovered. After three years of agonizing anticipation, Jack’s plane was finally bringing him home. Marian went out to meet him to check that he was fine. When the obsessed woman was finally satisfied, he told her what he had done. “My pastor just prayed in Jesus name that all troubles would leave me alone. Marian, please don’t try to stop me again after this seven month furlough.”
“Why couldn’t the pastor have said that to my mosquito?” she demanded
An epidemic of the dreaded plague was ravaging the Congo. The animals in the jungle were disappearing like raindrops, until all that was left was a puddle of pus among the trees. People were also dying, both from the disease and from the raids and lack of food it brought. There was a plea for anyone who could seriously help to do so before the plague developed elsewhere as well.
Marian heard this on the radio and her first impulse was to burn her brother’s plane tickets. But then her pastor preached on a very interesting verse: “You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.”* As these words crashed through the barriers she had been building in her mind, she rushed out of the hall. Her frenzy sent her crashing through doors wherever she could see them, madly probing after her brother. She was only just stopped from bursting into the Men’s toilets by Jack’s voice calling her back.
He began to explain how his mind had changed, and he was going to accept her concern when she burst out with words she would never have otherwise uttered. “You selfish idiot. Those poor Africans are dying out there without any exposure to Jesus. You are getting back to your job on the next plane. And what is more… What is more is I am coming with you.”
“But Marie, Congo has so many…”
“I’ll buy the tickets. And I will squash the stupid mosquitoes. Let’s go.”
* Psalm 91:5-7 NIV
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