Last week I wrote about my recent visit to several Christmas markets in Germany. Last night I heard that one market I visited years ago, in what was then downtown West Berlin, was attacked on Monday by someone driving a semi into the market, intentionally mowing down shoppers and stalls in what can only be described as an act of terrorism.
Before we left for our trip, we knew that the U.S. State Department had issued a travel alert for tourists in Europe, warning them about potential danger and saying, specifically, “U.S. citizens should exercise caution at holiday festivals, events, and outdoor markets.”
Further on in the warning it reads, “U.S. citizens should exercise vigilance when attending large holiday events, visiting tourist sites, using public transportation, and frequenting places of worship, restaurants, hotels, etc. Be aware of immediate surroundings and avoid large crowds, when possible.”
In other words, I’m sure they’re thinking, just stay home.
Just stay home. Forget about traveling. It’s not safe. It’s potentially a war zone. Don’t risk it.
Well, here’s my thinking on this. In the late 1960s, while my father was a pilot for Pan American Airlines, he was hijacked to Cuba. Dad was the flight engineer, sitting in the seat closest to the cabin door, so when the hijackers opened the door to the cockpit, he was the nearest guy and therefore the one they held the gun to.
They demanded that the plane be rerouted. The captain obeyed.
After a non-violent exchange in Cuba, the hijackers left and the crew and remaining passengers were allowed to return to the United States. Scary, yes, but it all turned out OK.
Growing up with this history in my family gave me a different perspective on life. I knew that the potential for terrorism existed and could affect even me … but I learned not to live in fear of it despite my father’s occupation.
Then along came the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, exactly 28 years ago this week, on Dec. 21, 1988. My dad was based in West Berlin at the time and flew in and out of Frankfurt, the origin of flight 103, many times a month.
I was in college when the bombing happened, but since it was Christmas break, and prior to the simplified communication of cell phones, my friends from school were worried and had no idea if my father had been killed in the incident. I knew he hadn’t, because that wasn’t a route he flew, but they didn’t know that. They just knew it had happened in Europe, where my father was based.
When I returned to school after the break, my Bible study leader took me aside and said, “When I heard about the bombing I prayed. I didn’t know if your father was killed but I knew that if he was, he’d be in heaven so it would be OK no matter what.”
I was taken aback by her words at first, and then it struck me that she understood what my family had always understood. Terrorism is horrifying, awful, beyond comprehension. But when you’re a Christian, death is not the worst thing that can happen to you.
I choose to not live my life in fear.
There is so much more which could be said on this topic. For now, I leave you with this.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined. …For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end.” Isaiah 9:2, 6,7 NKJV
May God haste the day of His peace.