A few weeks ago I, Karen, was walking on the street when I noticed down the road, by the chief’s house, was filled with men. When I arrived at my friend’s house, I asked what was going on. Apparently there were some men stealing palm trees for wood from Catel and the men of our village were taking the issue to the chief. There was yelling and arguing, but soon, the chief had it all under control and the men dispersed. The men that were stealing the wood had paid off the 2nd chief as well as the police in neighboring villages to not come when they were called. On this particular day the police did not come and the 2nd chief said he had visitors at his house so he could not come either. Our village chief did his job at settling everyone down and we thought the issue was done.
That weekend, we went to Bissau so our kids could see Bissau as well as our friends Sadja and Adramane. What we didn’t realize was the problem wasn’t over. We came back to the village on a Monday and that same day the chief’s son went down to Bissau to talk to the police and forestry department about the wood problem. He went to Bissau because the police around our village had been paid off and so far were not responding.
Thursday afternoon I was doing dishes and noticed women from a neighboring house running down the path. It wasn’t just one or two women, but every single woman from the house, and then all the men started running too. We stopped a few to ask what was happening. The police from Bissau had arrived as well as neighboring police and were arresting the men stealing wood. When someone gets caught stealing here he is tied up and the entire village has the opportunity to beat on him. Women were running with thin sticks and men with their machetes. We stayed home knowing this was not a problem involving us, but a village problem. After a few hours had passed I left the house to take a Bible to a woman that had been anxiously awaiting a full New and Old Testament Bible. We were able to purchase five in Bissau after a year or more of no Bibles being available in all of Guinea Bissau. When I got to the road I noticed it was still full of people and many women were standing around talking about what was happening. The people stealing the wood are not directly in our village but a village connected to ours on the road. It is about a 5-10 minute walk from our house. When I got to the house to deliver the Bible, all the women were talking about the fight. The fight had escalated and many people involved in stealing as well as those not involved had gotten beaten. The village people had arrived first to their house and fighting started, then the police arrived. Throughout the fighting the men directly involved in the stealing disappeared. The police were able to capture one of the men during the evening, but night fell without catching the others. That night our village men formed a search party and in the night were able to catch one or two of the men. The police came in the morning and took them off to jail but not before some serious beatings.
We could feel others praying for us, for our entire village. Throughout the night we received messages of people praying through the night in America. One friend told me she wouldn’t sleep until our sun rose here in Guinea Bissau. It was such a comfort to know the amount of prayer support we had. Tuesday nights our church gets together for prayer. That night, we prayed solely for our village and those whom seek revenge on our village. As were were walking home, I asked Djibi how his wife was doing. Djibi said she was doing okay, but still worried and not eating well. In a previous blog I wrote a story about a woman that lived through fighting in GB as well as in Senegal. Well, Djibi’s wife, Binta, lived through the same fighting in Senegal, but in her area, it was much, much worse. She saw things that no teenager should ever see. She remembers they had to hide out in the fields by day not eating or drinking until the sun set when they would seek refuge in a safe village. This threat to our village brought back all those memories and she was scared. I stopped by her house on the way home from prayer to encourage her. She told me a little about her story, but couldn’t bring herself to tell it all. I encouraged her and reminded her when she started to feel fear creep in to ask our Lord for his peace. She was thankful for that reminder and said that God has increased her faith this week. Djibi then told us about a vision he received from the Lord. Monday morning he was sitting on his veranda praying after the sun rose and God showed him one gigantic white head, but within that head were hundreds and hundreds of white people praying for Catel. He said he knew there were people all over the world united together praying for our village.
Many of you reading this blog right now were a part of his vision. You all came together and covered us in prayer and we are incredibly thankful. We praise God that we, brothers and sisters in Christ, are spread all over the world, but we are united together by one Spirit, His Spirit. The power of prayer truly is powerful!