For those of you who may not have heard, on February 19th, a French family that worked in Yaoundé (the political capital city of Cameroon) were vacationing in northern Cameroon. They were visiting the Waza National Park; a dad, mum, 4 kids (ages 5-12), plus an uncle. Early one morning their vehicle was stopped at gunpoint and they were kidnapped. Later Boko Haram, an Islamist group, claimed they had taken them and were making demands for prisoners to be released in Cameroon among other things. This family is friends with two of our good friends in Yaounde; their kids went to the same school, hung out together, run races together, etc. So this was the closest I had ever been to something like this, where it was personally effecting people that I know and love. Cameroon is a relatively safe country (compared to our neighbors) but we still have to take precautions. We have bars on our windows, we have guards dogs, we try not to travel after dark, etc. In the North were Islam is stronger, people have to be even more careful. Personally, we have never felt threaten or in danger in all our nine years here.
For the "white" community, hearing things like this does stirs up worries and fears. We were actually discussing going to the precise spot next year for our family vacation. The French children were almost the exact ages of our kids and it is hard not to picture yourself in the same situation... how would I be feeling? how would Jude and the rest of our children handle those sort of circumstances? what are they going through at this exact moment? Through it all we just decided not to be led by fear (worry wasn't going to help anyone anyway, right?) and just lean and trust on Jesus for their safety. We lifted them up in prayer every night and encouraged our kids to do the same whenever they thought of them. I know that hundreds/thousands of other people were praying for them too.
During the first few weeks after their capture, a couple of youtube videos appeared of the family surrounded by mask men with machine guns. They were increasingly looking more thin, drawn, and worn. For the last month there had been no new news of them and I must admit I was starting to wonder what was going to happen to them. How were their faring? The North of Cameroon is extremely hot and they had mentioned in a video that they were suffering from the heat and they didn't know how much longer they could hold out. France had declared (and rightly so) that they would not negotiate or pay a ransom for the family.
Then on Friday, exactly 2 months since they were taken, we got news that they had been released!! I told the boys and everyone in the house at the time and we all hooped and hollered and offered up thanks to the Lord ( I also shed a tear or two). Aside from being extremely thin, they had been unharmed. They flew home on Saturday and we are just so thrilled that this story had a happy ending. I know they will have a lot of recovering and healing to do, but still, I get a skip in my heart every time I think of their release. We do serve a mighty God!
I will lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, O Lord make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8
If you want to read more about it all, click below: