Jessica Buchanan, Poul Hagan Thisted and I are total strangers. The thoughts below are disconnected from any relationship except that Jessica and I would have eaten at the same Phoenixville restaurants, sat in the same chairs in classrooms or trudged along the same sidewalks at Valley Forge. Chances are, we will never meet. Mr. Thisted and Jessica Buchanan would have probably preferred to have their story known simply by their dangerous work of de-mining war-torn Somalia with the Danish Refugee Council than by being held captive since mid-October 2011 and rescued by the Navy Seals.
But rescue stories are captivating. These stories remind us of the dangerous world that we live in. Rescue stories remind us that innocent people put themselves in harm’s way all of the time. There are risks involved in doing good work. Ultimately, they remind us of the words of St. Augustine, “Our hearts are restless until they find rest in Thee”. While we cannot relate to fear and insecurity of actual captivity, we all need to be rescued by a Savior.
Please let the remarks below steep in your thoughts. Or write additional thoughts. Please know that they were written with hesitation and respect for the sensitive nature of last few months in Jessica Buchanan and Mr. Thisted’s life.
Thank God for their safety and return– It is unexplainable why some prisoners are released or rescued while others are not. Thank God that Jessica and Mr. Thisted lived to tell their story. Pray for those still being held (wherever they are). There do not seem to be many rules or regulations that captors follow and only God knows why their captors did not treat them worse. Thank God that Jessica and Mr. Thisted may continue working for the Kingdom on this earth, whenever and however they choose.
Be inspired by their courage– Each of us has responsibilities to work toward on this earth. Some of us stay near home while others brave far countries. Differing amounts of courage is needed no matter where we are but it seems that some roles require more courage or more risk than others. Generally-speaking, I am risk-avoidant. My friends who travel to other countries would also say that I have “a lot of maintenance needs” which would make me a poor choice for rough accommodations. But reading of the work of the DRC and seeing folks like Jessica and Mr. Thisted literally removing underground bombs is inspiring. I am taking stock of my own security and comfort as I consider other ways that God can use me.
Support your missionaries– Recommit to support people who are on the razor’s edge around the globe (or around the block). They go in our place. Also, recommit your support to other members of the Body of Christ, wherever they work. They, too, go in our place. Not all of us are equipped to go overseas, to the suburbs or to the cities on behalf of the Gospel. But everyone working towards God’s Kingdom is a missionary and is working diligently. Support the salt and light in a dull and dimly lit world.
Pray for their recovery– Life seems to be difficult enough without being held captive for months. I cannot imagine their daily struggles or treatment. My hope is that they can acclimate to “civilian life” again. I pray that both of them are able to work through any post-traumatic stresses that they may experience. I pray for the possible crush of attention. I pray for the healing of wounds; the emotional and physical suffering experienced.
Do not wish for captivity– This may sound strange but bear with me. In the fall of 2000, my wife and I took a group of youth to a regional youth conference. Several thousand youth and leaders crowded into a large college arena to be challenged. Discerning God’s will, worship, engaging in media were all topics discussed but one topic stands taller than the rest: The story of 17-year-old Cassie Bernall’s tragic death during the Columbine shootings just months before. The scene in the arena was several thousand youth, probable sleep-deprivation, emotionally-charged music and the re-telling of one of the most horrific scenes in the lives of teenagers at that time. During the time of prayer, teenager after teenager stood up, essentially volunteering to be like Cassie Bernall, a martyr. The rhetoric came from the stage itself and some students responded. I shuddered.
I only hope that as people hear the story of Jessica Buchanan and Poul Hagan Thisted and others serving the Kingdom, they do not wish for captivity so that they can have a testimony to share. I hope listeners are inspired to take risks, act courageously, leave the familiar behind, bring comfort to the afflicted, move into darkness and let God’s light shine through you, find dull places and be salt, clothe the naked, care for the wounded, visit those in captivity, or be taken-advantage-of for Christ. Essentially, I hope that listeners to their story will live the life that God has called them to, not the life of someone else.
God may call you to a dangerous location. You may be removing land-mines in a war-torn country or teaching inside of a 3rd grade classroom at the local grade school. You may be in a dangerous location right now but too naïve to know it.
Whatever you do, bloom; produce fruit, where God has planted you!