A Pebble in My Pocket - 4
When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?”
Saturday – 28 May 2011
It started as a swell, rising in my ocean of suppressed fear. By the time the wall was unveiled, the tsunami had struck, dragging in its wake my dignity and reserve.
I read the names, starting from left to right. I recognize the first two: Bonnie Witherall—Lebanon, and Gayle Williams—Afghanistan.
I’d never heard the other four names before, but three hold a special place in the heart of the speaker, Martin de Lange, who had unveiled this wall dedicated to these Operation Mobilization martyrs. Tilmann Geske, Uğur Yüksel and Nejati Aydın were murdered in the same office that Martin had occupied just six months earlier, before he had been forced to leave Turkey. These three men had continued with the mission work Martin began.
My mind goes back to the day Gary Witherall spoke at our church. I was blown away by his story, and after the service I purchased his book, “Total Abandon.” It didn’t take me long to read the story he’d told that morning of his wife, Bonnie, who was gunned down by an unknown assailant at the clinic in Sidon, Lebanon where she worked helping poor, pregnant Palestinian women. The most powerful part of his testimony was how, in that moment of learning about her death, seeing her lifeless body, he chose to forgive her attacker.
I gaze at the plaque with Gayle Williams’s name engraved on the small marble slab and remember reading her story on the internet just weeks before. A UK and South African national, Gayle was gunned down near Kabul University in Afghanistan on the 20th of October 2008 by two men on a motorbike whilst walking to work. This woman’s death affects me the most, because Kyle feels called to go to Afghanistan.
I stare at the wall, unable to stem the flow of tears. How do I lay my Isaac down?
As the trainees walk away from the wall and return to the Cultural Day events they are hosting as part of their Missionary Discipleship Training, I, too, turn my back to the concrete slab, desperately trying to hide my tears.
Mimi, a teen from Nantes, France, whom Noel and I had befriended after visiting her in hospital during the second week of training, wraps her arms around me. I lean my head on her shoulder and sob.
“His name…his name cannot go onto that wall…”