Our family climbed out of a taxi in front of our mission agency’s guest house in Bogotá, the capital city of Colombia.
A line of our new colleagues filed out to the sidewalk and gave us a warm welcome. Perhaps they’d been looking forward to meeting Dave, new teacher for their kids, and Matt and Karen, new friends and classmates for their kids.
Motioning us toward the entrance, one of them said, “Excuse the porch and the mess on the first floor. You heard about the bomb, didn’t you?”
(If you missed last week’s post, click on Who would bomb missionaries? And why?)
On the night of August 4, 1976, twelve days before our family arrived, Bill Nyman and his daughter, Melodie, picked up Will and Lee Kindberg and three of their kids at the airport. It was about midnight when they pulled up in front of the guest house.
While Bill searched for the key, Will noticed a package next to the door. Assuming it was for someone inside, he picked it up and said, only joking, “What’s this? A bomb?” At that moment, Will saw an electrical device on the package. And it flickered. It was a bomb! “Everyone take cover!”
Seconds later a blast shattered windows throughout the neighborhood and mutilated the Nymans’ cars but, by God’s grace, the Kindbergs and Nymans received only minor wounds.
The explosion left the cement porch cratered and the heavy iron door disfigured. It blew the door’s window into shreds, lodging shards into walls and stairs leading to the second floor.
The blast ripped the steel kickplate into shrapnel, which, Will Kindberg wrote later, “cut through steel banister uprights, leaving the top and bottom pieces reaching out to each other.”
Throughout the first floor, shrapnel “had gone through walls, two by fours, suitcases, and trunks full of clothing,” Will said later.
“Splintered wall paneling was lying here and there. Glass littered the floors. At the end of the hall, the telephone had been ripped from the wall and the wires severed by one of the steel shards. . . . Murderous intent was plainly evident.”
But, thank God, everyone was upstairs asleep, and although some received injuries, none was serious. Some people still have scars that remind them they lived through it.
Upon arriving in Colombia,
I still did not know that for some time,
Marxist anti-American guerrillas
had been targeting our organization and others like it.
At that time, I did not know
that our director, Forrest Zander, had said,
“We were aware that our enemies wanted
our mission out of the country,
but we didn’t know they would
resort to such deadly tactics.”
At that time, I did not know that
the day after the bombing,
the guest house phone rang,
and a voice on the other end said,
“We mean business.
Get out, or you will hear from us again.”
(from Chapter 3, Please, God,
So, my ignorance—all that I did not know—led me to embrace optimism, believing the guest house bombing was a one-time event and we’d seen the end of such violence.
God had sent us to this dangerous nation, Colombia,
but He had arrived ahead of us
to prepare the way.
He does that for us nowadays as much as He did in Old Testament times:
“The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you;
He will never leave you nor forsake you.
Do not be afraid. Do not be discouraged.”
“No matter what path we walk down, God is one step ahead,” writes Kelly Balarie. “No matter what mountain we come up against, He is already climbing it. No matter what journey of uncertainty we encounter, God is 100 steps further. He’s laying out our path and preparing our steps.”