Jackie's Journey: Inexplicable Agony! Part 1

 Ralph raking the leaves in front of our jungle home.

Ralph raking the leaves in front of our jungle home.

The word that Americans were living on the Pucuro River among an isolated tribe located near the headwaters was big news to the people in a tiny Choco settlement about a day’s journey away by piraqua.  A young couple from this village had come to Pucuro for medicine for their little boy.  Ralph, my husband, and our partner, Jay Gunsteens, were eager to take some of our new believing Kunas on their first missionary trip to this community.

 Young visiting Choco family.

Young visiting Choco family.

I remember the day they took off in the dugout and wondered how these remote people would receive the message God was bringing to them.  It was rainy season and the mud was deep as they arrived on the riverbank.  This secluded group of Indians had a few horses and cows and the ground was thoroughly contaminated.  Ralph, who had purchased combat boots for just this sort of occasion, was in his flip-flops! 

Darkness was closing in and the boys were invited to eat and spend the night.  The next day they were given an opportunity to open the Word and share God’s plan for their lives.  Ralph and Jay were well received and some of the townspeople even returned a visit to Pucuro in the weeks that followed. 

 

 Choco village

Choco village

About two weeks after returning to our village, Ralph began to suffer with excruciating abdominal pain.  We committed him to our healing God.  The limited medical resources available to us interior had been exhausted.  Since we were soon due to renew our visas, we decided to take the three-day journey early and leave for Panama City to see if the doctors in the Canal Zone could help us.  The medical doctors realized he had picked up something unusual and, unable to find the source after a battery of tests, they sent us to Gorgas Laboratory, the Center for Disease Control for the military in Central America. 

Ralph was becoming increasingly restless and powerless to cope with the intense pain.  The Lab was our last hope.  We made an immediate appointment and to our surprise, they took us right in. 

Ralph had not slept in days.   The Lord had opened up a home on the military base for us to use the few days we planned to be in the city and we were so grateful for His provision.  

 

 Military housing in the Canal Zone.

Military housing in the Canal Zone.

Ralph would walk the floor day and night.  The only thing that gave him a few moments of relief was when he would drink a Coca Cola!  I knew I had been called to this ministry, and I knew God was allowing this trial for our good and the benefit of others, yet this was touching one of God’s most faithful servants and I was stymied! 

Have you ever wondered why it is so much more difficult to watch the pain of someone else than your own?

Finally, one night, Ralph stopped pacing and laid down sometime after midnight.  I breathed a sigh of relief. 

About two hours later we were jolted by someone at the back door, literally, breaking into the house!  They had broken the window and were reaching their hands inside through the shattered glass to unlock the latch! 

Ralph was instantly on his feet yelling at the intruder!  As he left our room, he turned and said,  “Safety is in the Lord, Jackie!”  As he slammed the door shut, he told me to call the military police and stay with the girls!

Panicked and processing, I did as I was told and listened to the scuffle in the hall.  There were loud voices and then silence!  In a few minutes Ralph had subdued the man and tapped on our door to tell us we were going to be all right.  The intruder was a cocaine addict and knew someone that lived in this borrowed house.  He needed money and was desperate to get in! 

Have you ever had an intruder violently invade your place of safety?

Needless to say, we did not go back to bed, and as dawn shed light into the house, I was busily packing and “oh, so ready” to keep that Gorgas Lab appointment and head back to our home in the jungles of the Darien. 

Who would have thought that an ordinary family would sense more safety in a jungle house with no lock, a bark frame and surrounded by indigenous people, than in a thriving metropolis with all the amenities known to man?!

I learned a lesson that night: This experience drove home the truth that the promise “Safety is in the Lord” is an absolute reality given to those who walk with Him.

“The beloved of the Lord shall dwell in SAFETY by Him; the Lord will cover him all day long.”  Duet. 33:12

The world is too small a place to afford safety to a man that disobeys God.

Where do you find safety?