I was at a funeral this morning of a man in his eighties who had been a lifetime Boys Brigade man – and of course we sang the BB Hymn.
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,
When the clouds unfold their wings of strife?
When the strong tides lift and the cables strain,
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
I guess the situation in Mali with a military coup and the resulting political crisis, compounded by the loss of the north to a combination of rebel forces, might just constitute one of those “storms of life” for my Wycliffe colleagues who have been evacuated from the country.
So where am I going with this? Before going to the funeral, I read a post from Mali colleague and Branch Director Tim Tillinghast’s blog Tim’s Sabbatical Journey and Beyond in which he reflects on the situation in which he and his colleagues found themselves recently.
I have never been in a crisis situation like this having left Côte d’Ivoire some years before the trouble there, but Tim has experienced several crises in several different ways…
This is not my first time to be in the “insecurity pressure cooker” having seen and even helped evacuate my colleagues out of Côte d’Ivoire on three separate occasions (2002, 2003, 2004).
As a third-grader, I lived through a week in Lebanon when fighter planes were flying overhead and we had to stay inside. Then in Yemen there were 2 different occasions when the President was assassinated and there was more staying inside. I remember it being tense and uncertain, and also the fact that we had no school.
These past few weeks have been different, the first time in the midst of the situation myself as an adult. In the past, I have been on the outside helping to get others out before and there is intense pressure and then a relief when they are all out.
This time I was on the inside, coordinating with my team, making decisions and trying to get everything in order for those we leave behind, trying to manage resources in the face of an economic embargo, and trying to pack up my own stuff.
The coup coincided with Mali’s approaching spiritual retreat and branch conference which had to be cancelled, but they did spend more time than anticipated in prayer and worship and mutual encouragement.
In the midst of curfews and troubled times, our normal Bible studies and church times and meeting places were disrupted. However, we managed to come together spontaneously for prayer and worship and sharing of scripture where we could. Perhaps it was the uncertainty of the situation, the rawness of our emotions in the midst of harried preparations, or the stripping away of unimportant things, but these were times when the prayers were intense and heartfelt, the worship glorious, with the Word of God ministering simply and profoundly without explanation needed.
Tim refers specifically to a new song written by Mali’s resident, but soon to be evacuated, ethnomusicologist Rob Baker which everyone found very relevant and helpful. Read the words and hear Rob singing the song on his own blog here.
It seems that Priscilla Owens wrote the words for the Will your anchor hold back in 1882 while Rob Baker wrote In a world gone mad we look to you in March 2012.
However as I sang the older hymn in the funeral service, I thought perhaps Rob has produced the 21st century equivalent.
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