As if we needed any reminder of how small our world has become…
Last night we were sitting at home when the news of the latest terrorist attack began streaming across our TV. This time it was a suicide bomber who detonated a bomb as people were leaving an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England. The video, the commentary, felt all too familiar.
But why? Manchester England is far far away, across the ocean. It was not one of the cities I visited when I was a student. It wasn’t one of the places we went to when our youth group traveled to Glasgow. It wasn’t on the itinerary when our family sojourned there one summer. So it wasn’t a place that should have stirred up emotions.
Manchester was where our daughter and son in law spent a summer. He was working on a project and she spent her days at a coffee shop writing her first book. It was where they met some lovely friends who traveled to Charleston for their wedding. But I doubted very seriously if any of them were at a Monday night pop music concert.
Then I remembered our dear friends Andrew and Julie Henton Pusey. We had met in Prague during one of my sabbaticals. He is the pastor of Walworth Road Baptist Church in Hitchen, England. During our visit we spent a few days with them. Andrew took us to Cambridge where he had been a student. He took us punting down the Cam. Those days are some when we remember fondly! A few years ago their family came to the States for a summer visit and we had the opportunity to repay the hospitality showing them around, going to the beach, just enjoying each other’s company.
Then came the horrific shootings at Mother Emanuel. The next morning I received an email from Andrew, and later that week an announcement that our city would be remembered in their prayers as they lit candles that Sunday. It was the email that broke my heart.
So this morning I wanted to be like Andrew, to reach out to them to let them know that even though Hitchen is not close to Manchester, I was remembering them in my prayers.
And then came the reply. Their daughter, Lizzie, is a student in Manchester. She was not at the concert, but had friends who were. They have two more young people from their church in Manchester—one whom not yet been in communication.
Suddenly Manchester was very very close. There aren’t that many degrees of separation.
As I texted with Julie, I promised her that she can sleep tonight knowing that we will be praying while she slumbers. But at some point, I will have to sleep as well. So if you are in Colorado, in California, Bali, in Australia, in China, or if you just stay up really really late at night—you know who you are—I hope that you will remember my friends who are waiting…..
It is just returning the favor. It is doing what we do for family!