Tuesday morning in eastern USA, was Tuesday evening on Borneo. We had enjoyed a wonderful, badly needed day of rest at a lovely resort at the foot of jungle covered mountains overlooking the South China Sea. Much of the day had been spent soaking in the pool and resting on chaise lounges. Our idyllic peace was shattered at 9:15 PM when my husband channel surfed to CNN. Pictures of the World Trade Center in a pillar of smoke and the Pentagon engulfed in flames shook us as the horror unfolded. Nothing could have prepared us for the shock.
36 hours later, we still hardly know what to say when asked how we feel. But last night my husband began a series of camp meeting addresses. With the tragedy so fresh on everyone’s minds, there really wasn’t another topic that seemed right for that session.
As Americans reel in shock at this unprecedented attack on civilians, we were reminded that much of the rest of the world lives with violence all the time. As Americans, we have seldom been the recipients of limitless hatred. How could anyone hate so much that they would purpose to kill the greatest number of civilians possible?
But many of you are living in countries where there are on-going, unwarranted acts of hatred toward some of the citizens every day. Some of you experience prejudice mixed with hatred on a regular basis. This is a good time to remember that our Lord died with the weight of all the concentrated hatred of this world bearing down on Him. No one in all history deserved this hatred less than He. Yet he bore it, so that we could be saved from it.
There are no guarantees that we won’t suffer the effects of hatred in this world. There may be people who hate you, but there is not enough hatred to separate you from God. If everyone turned from you, God wouldn’t. No one can condemn you, no matter how much they hate you. They could kill you, they could destroy your body, but God’s love is eternal and they cannot kill the real you. It is His love that conquers hatred in us. He makes us a new creation. He forgives us and He turns us from haters to lovers.
In light of these recent events, it seems important that we look at the security of families living abroad. Where do you turn for help and information and what can you do to protect yourself from violence?
For the most recent safety announcements check out the State Department’s Alerts and Warnings link.
Also on the State Department’s site be sure to read the article called, “A Safe Trip Abroad.” It has a very complete list of safety precautions for a variety of situations.
Some simple, common sense reminders for those of us living abroad:
- Maintain a low profile, as much as possible.
Don’t use short cuts, narrow alleys or poorly-lit streets. Try not to travel alone at night.
- Try to seem purposeful when you move about. Even if you are lost, act as if you know where you are going. When possible, ask directions only from individuals in authority.
- If you are confronted, don’t fight back. Give up your valuables. Your money and passport can be replaced, but you cannot.
- Avoid obvious terrorist targets such as places where Americans and Westerners are known to congregate.
- Vary the routes and times for all required travel.
- Treat mail and packages from unfamiliar sources with suspicion.
- Avoid contact with any suspicious, unfamiliar objects, and report the presence of any such objects to local authorities.
- Vehicles should not be left unattended, if at all possible, and should be kept locked at all times.
Some reminders for air travel:
- Make sure your family has a copy of your itinerary.
- Keep your photo ID readily available.
- Don’t ever carry a bag packed by someone else. In these days of heightened security, we can no longer carry a suitcase for someone as a favor.
- Don’t accept gifts from someone you do not know.
- Put anything that might conceivably be considered dangerous (pocket knife, mace, etc.) in your checked luggage, not in your carry-on.
- Keep all your travel documents, money, prescriptions, and valuables with you, not in checked luggage.
- Put your name, address and telephone numbers inside and outside of each piece of luggage.
- Use covered luggage tags to avoid casual observation of your identity or nationality.
- Never, ever joke in anyway about security issues. Carefully train your children to avoid any kind of threatening talk while traveling.
- Leave any gifts you are carrying unwrapped until you arrive at your destination.
- Always wear your seat belt when seated. Unexpected turbulence hurts and can even kill some passengers every year.
- It is wise, if you are living overseas, to register with your nearest embassy or consulate. In the event of natural disasters, wars, etc, they would know how to reach you with aide you might need.
This is not a complete list of safety precautions. Nothing could have kept the thousands of people in the WTC safe on Tuesday morning. But we do our part in acting as wisely as possible and trust God to fulfill His purposes through us. Remember to pray for your family’s safety and trust God to never leave you or forsake you.