Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Missionary (10/19/06)
TITLE: A mission of pain
By Folakemi Emem-Akpan
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I will the wild galloping of my heart to stop but it doesn’t, so I take in a mouthful of air and follow the host into the bright glare of the room. He seems to know I’d rather be anywhere than here because he reaches out and squeezes my hand.
I send a quick prayer upwards and resign myself to whatever happens. I know God wouldn’t lead me this far only to withdraw.
All too soon, we are seated. Mark, the show host tells me we’ll be on air in two minutes; do I need to go to the bathroom for the last time?
I shake my head and pray again. Mark counts ten backwards. When he reaches zero, the camera pans on us. I quickly affix a smile to my face.
“Good evening and welcome to your favorite Mark Aile Show.” Mark’s face ripens into a smile as he launches into a brief history of my life. My smile stays in place even though my heart is quavering.
“Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Lara to the show.” Pre-recorded applause bursts from the hidden speakers and I smile even broader. “You want to tell us about your experience?”
I nod, find my voice from the recesses of my parched throat and say hello to the home audience. I look to Mark for further help. He takes over quickly.
“When she was eleven, Lara’s uncle forced himself on her, and he did this continually for three years before he was found out. She had to undergo therapy, isn’t that?”
I nod a yes.
“I will leave her to tell the remainder of the story.”
I steadily gather courage around me and begin. “After that incidence, my mum came for me. My dad had been dead a few years, and that’s why I had to stay with my aunt and uncle…because we were seven children and mum couldn’t care for us all. After therapy, I managed to put the past behind me. I finished from high school.” As I speak, the memories tumble around in my head like an avalanche, sprouting a million drops of tears behind my eyelids. But this is the path I’ve chosen to healing, this is the path God has chosen for me.
“I finished high school, left home in search of work. I met a guy.” I think of Thomas. His brilliant smile, his lopsided sense of humor, his unbridled energy. “He claimed to be a Christian just like me, but he wasn’t. It wasn’t long after we started dating that he asked for us to sleep together. I said no. I kept saying no until…until he came over one night. He forced me.” When I shut my eyes tightly, I can still reconstruct that night. The struggle, the pleadings…and the pain. When he left, I crawled to the bathroom and prayed for death. Death didn’t come so I locked myself up for three days, alternating between cursing Thomas, God and my uncle. When I got tired of cursing, I cried and wondered if everyone’s life was as pitiful as mine.
I look straight into the camera. “Thomas raped me four years ago. I thought I wasn’t ever going to survive, but I did. God’s taught me that the best way through the pain is by walking with Him through it.”
Mark takes a deep breath and asks, “Does the pain ever go away?”
I let the question sizzle awhile, then I shake my head. “It fades but never goes away. I can live with it. It hurts but can’t break me anymore. And I have since dedicated myself to this cause of reaching out to others. If you’ve ever been raped, especially by someone close to you, you blame yourself and wonder if it was something you did. But you can get rid of the guilt…because it wasn’t your fault. And your life isn’t over. It’s just started.”
“Thanks Lara for coming to share on the show. When we return, we’ll be…”
As Mark flashes another of his smiles at the camera, I sit back in my chair and tell God thanks for the strength He’s given me. For the message.
…and the One who so wonderfully comforts and strengthens us in our hardships and trials. And why does He do this? So that when others are troubled, needing our sympathy and encouragement, we can pass on to them this same help and comfort God has given us. (II Corinthians 1: 3&4)
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