On July 11 of 2012, three IAS staff members were abducted by Somali pirates. The initial news was shocking and devastating, but little did we know that sixteen months later, Martin Kioko, Abdinoor Boru and Janet Muthoni Kanga would still be in captivity.
Martin, Abdinoor and Janet, photographed shortly after their abduction in July, 2012
Despite over a year of negotiation, their release has not yet been achieved. Where do we turn when the odds seem stacked against us? How do we persevere on a road that is dark and not growing any brighter? When hope seems lost and we feel abandoned by God, how do we remain thankful? How do we continue to trust?
These are the questions that our organization and the families of those abducted have been wrestling with throughout the past sixteen months. We can only imagine the journey of trust that Martin, Abdinoor and Janet have been on, and we pray they continually sense and rely on God’s nearness.
Abduction and captivity may be unfathomable to most of us, but the fact is that arduous difficulties are a normal way of life for the majority of those whom IAS serves throughout Africa. We in the developed world typically expect an easier path through life than our brothers and sisters in the developing world, sad and unfair as we believe that reality to be. But just as the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike (Matthew 5:45), so too must we expect that we will not be immune to hardship. Our infrastructures and systems may be helpful most of the time, but they collapse in the face of true tragedy or evil, which has no corner on any part of the world.
What is trust if it is based solely on the need for things to go well in our lives? No doubt this mindset is a weak foundation that will not support the weight of reality and hardship.
“Though He slay me,
YET I WILL TRUST IN HIM.”
JOB 13:15 NKJV
Janet Muthoni Kanga, giving praise to the Lord in one of the first photographs taken of her after having been captured by Somali pirates
This Thanksgiving finds IAS working diligently on the same task as last Thanksgiving: negotiating the release of Martin, Abdinoor and Janet. When we look at this ongoing difficulty and consider how much time has passed without success, sometimes it is easy to give up hope. But we recognize that we serve a God who is much greater than our circumstances.
We want to continue to build our organization on a foundation that acknowledges there is a God guiding, leading and directing our paths, even when those paths take us through dark places. This foundation and mindset has as its tenet the belief that whatever challenges we face, we can always choose to trust in the Lord.
As we continue to trust God in this situation, we will also choose to be thankful for every good and perfect gift He has given us (James 1:17). Sometimes being thankful is a choice we make and not a feeling. We are choosing to be thankful for God’s protection and watch-care over the IAS hostages, and we will continue to petition Him for their quick and safe release.
If you would, please take a moment out of your Thanksgiving preparations to pray a hopeful, thankful and faith-filled prayer for Martin, Abdinoor and Janet. We certainly thank God for you often. We are so grateful for the work that He is doing through your partnership with IAS.
Be sure to read this month’s related letter from Douglas Mann, President of IAS America: “A Word About: Yet I Will Trust”
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