August 4, 1976, Bogotá, Colombia: “A bomb exploded at the Summer Institute of Linguistics,* injuring five U.S. citizens who had just arrived from Peru. Several other bombs were detonated in Bogotá, including one at the Bank of America.” (Lethal Actions Against Americans)
Will and Lee Kindberg and three of their children were the five mentioned above who had just arrived on a flight from Peru. They had completed their work as Bible translators there and had accepted a new assignment in Colombia. (Click on “We mean business. Get out, or you will hear from us again.”)
It was midnight when the Kindbergs arrived at the guest house with Bill Nyman. Here’s an excerpt from Called to Die:
“A small parcel in the shadows on the step caught his [Will’s] attention.
“Oh, look,” he chuckled, “somebody’s left us a bomb.”
As [Bill Nyman] toyed with the lock, Will stooped to pick up the package. A tiny electrical component on top began sparkling.
“It is a bomb!” [Bill Nyman] shouted. [He] dropped the key and raced to the car for shelter.
Will froze. Should he throw it into the street? His family and friends were there. Leave it on the steps? People were inside; but at least a door protected them.
Gently he set the package down, then sprinted behind the car and crouched, wondering what it would feel like to have his feet blown off.
The explosion ripped the night. Will buried his face in his hands and listened as bits of glass rained on the pavement up and down the street. “Welcome to Colombia,” he muttered, ears ringing from the concussion. (from Called to Die,The Story of American Linguist Chet Bitterman, Slain by Terrorists, by Steve Estes)
Later, Will Kindberg wrote, “My daughter, Kathy, had run across the street at Bill's warning, and threw herself on the ground in front of the house there. She was slightly cut by falling glass. I scraped my elbow when I fell as I scrambled around the car, and my ears hurt for days. But we were all thankful to still be alive.”
He continued, “One woman, leaning out of a second-story window of a house across the street, screamed to her family: "Llama a la policía!" (Call the police!) A few drivers, attracted by the explosion, drove up and stopped. The occupants of one car offered a seat to my daughter, Virginia, who was sobbing, and asked, 'Why do they hate us so?'"
By God’s grace, the bomb killed no one inside the guest house.
After reading of devastation on the first floor (see “We mean business. Get out, or you will hear from us again”), you might be asking, “How could it be that no one died?”
Here’s how: Everyone was upstairs, on the second and third floors, asleep. Damage up there wasn’t nearly as bad as that on the first floor. How wonderful is that?!?
Let me hurry to point out that the upper floors did suffer damage, and people did receive injuries, but no one died.
That night, Edna Lush was in bed upstairs, recovering from surgery. Up to that point, she had been getting into and out of bed very carefully but that night, during the split-second time lapse between the blast and its impact, Edna sprung out of bed—just before the window above her bed blew out and left her pillow covered with broken glass. Her husband, Jim, recalls, “It was truly amazing that she leaped out of bed so fast.”
Young Danny Janssen had a similar experience but, unlike Edna, he didn’t escape from his bed in time. He tells the story of his dad watching the glass blow out of the window, whole, and then explode, landing on Danny (who now goes by Dan). Today, he still talks about the scar he has on his left hand.
And then there was Bobby Wheeler, who by that time had graduated from high school. His younger sibs, Jim and Linda, get a kick out of telling the story of Bobby sleeping through the bombing. They tell the story like this:
Bobby and their mom, Peggy, had brought a Siona man, Estanislao, from his tribal home to Bogotá for medical help. Estanislao and Bobby were sharing a room for the night and when the bomb exploded, Estanislao called, “Bobby! Wake up. I heard a big noise. I think it was a bomb.”
But Bobby mumbled, “No, it couldn’t have been a bomb. Bogotá is a big city with big noises. Go back to sleep.”
But Estanislao wasn’t convinced. “No, Bobby, I’m sure that was a big bomb.”
After some back and forth, Bobby said, “Let’s go downstairs. I’ll prove to you everything’s okay.” Imagine Bobby’s surprise when he saw the front door blown in and all the other damage—and the traumatized occupants of the guest house.
In Edges of His Ways, Amy Carmichael wrote of the times we ask God to show us what to do, where to go, what to do for a living. She likened us to children who ask a parent, “Please point us in the right direction.” We ask Him, believing He has good plans for us.
No doubt Bill Nyman and his family were serving God in Bogotá because they believed He had pointed them there. The five Kindbergs, too, had spent long months asking God to point them in the direction He thought would be best for them. Each person asleep in the guest house also had sensed God pointing them toward work in Colombia.
Amy Carmichael continues, “Then He points perhaps to something very unexpected,” —like working with an organization targeted by anti-American Marxist guerrillas—"and we are bewildered.”
Bewildered! I guess so! Why would God
send people to work in such a dangerous place?
But then, Amy Carmichael draws our attention to Psalm 139:10,
“Even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast."
God gives us many assurances of His protection, verses like this: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10, NIV).
Those at the guest house that night
witnessed God do just that for them.
* “In the early years of what would later become, in part, Wycliffe Bible Translators, linguists trained during summer breaks from college at a school named Summer Institute of Linguistics, SIL. . . . In later years, SIL and Wycliffe became partner organizations. SIL worked on foreign fields doing linguistic and anthropological research and work, including Bible translation, while Wycliffe worked in home countries to recruit personnel and provide support services for those working overseas.” (Chapter 3, Please, God, Don’t Make Me Go: A Foot-Dragger’s Memoir.)