For Lynne Strange, God’s protection was conspicuous in every small detail. After two back surgeries, the trip was too risky for her husband, Chris to make with her. So, she started on her journey back to their remote Banwaon village with two friends from town.
Their purpose was to reconnect with village friends and to pack up Lynne and Chris’ former village home for furlough. And every kilometre of the way was saturated in God’s grace and care.
First there was the 27-mile trip there through substantial mud, part of it on motorbikes, most of it on foot. Lynne isn’t sure which was worse. “The mud was over knee-deep for 90 percent of the journey. Not only did it bog down the bikes, but it grabbed and held tight to our shoes.”
Progress through the mud was a quite a chore. Yet in spite of the exhausting hike through the deep mud, there were no sprains or pulled muscles. And in spite of a tipped-over motorbike, there were no crushed legs.
And then there were the rivers. Three of them, in fact. Lynne writes, “One was very swollen and deep where we had to cross in a little dugout canoe. The bikes were conservatively over 800 pounds with cargo and passengers and the dugout was only buoyed with lengths of bamboo.” In spite of some woeful imbalances, everyone made it across the raging river without mishap.
It took over seven hours to reach their village destination. “In spite of it being the end of the rainy season in the rainforest, we only had to face rain during the last hour of our exhausting trek, which was a lovely gift from the Lord,” Lynne shares.
With all the obstacles and dangers, there were no injuries. And Lynne has no doubts about Who accomplished that.
God’s help was obvious during their stay in the village, as well. “The Lord clearly laid out the plan for that ten days and then helped us get it all done!” With the help of beloved village “daughters”, Lynne and her town friends dug through the dark corners of their jungle home which had been empty for nearly a year during their town ministry. They encountered no cobras or rats, though the evidence of their former presence there was profuse.
The water system, which involves water piped 4 kilometres from a waterfall through the jungle, worked flawlessly during their visit. Lynne says, “We could drink, cook and shower every day. That is a huge gift.”
Lynne delighted in getting caught up with village friends. She listened to their stories of all that had taken place in the village since their departure. And then Lynne explained that she and Chris will be away at least through the year 2014.
In clearing out their house, Lynne was able to make gifts for their friends of many things that will be useful for life in the jungle. Every village family received something to eat or wear. “The big pile of gifts filled two rooms. Each thing will be a help in some way.” God provided comfort for Lynne in giving these gifts from their home and she hopes the gifts will continue to lift the sadness of the good-byes to their dear friends.
The return trip to the lowlands was no less treacherous than their journey in. They left at 2:30 a.m. in the extreme dark of the jungle. Lynne marvels that God provided a canopy of stars overhead and no rain that night. Through landslides and along cliffs on the route, they could see enough to make careful progress.
“I said a prayer of thanksgiving when the light of the sun finally helped us see our muddy path,” Lynne recounts. “It was full daylight when we reached the most dangerous river crossing and though it was even more swift and deep this time due to rains, we smoothly crossed and continued on our way.”
God’s care and tender protection were highly visible in every detail of this hazardous journey. It was a journey of love – both love for Christ and love for the Banwaon people who have become like family to the Stranges. Lynne writes, “When I’m in the village, it’s the only time I truly feel ‘home’ in this foreign country. I will always praise the Lord for that.”
So is a ministry journey like this—with all its dangers—worth it?
The rewards that come from the risks and sacrifice of their ministry are, to Chris and Lynne, profoundly worth it. They treasure the memory of their village chief’s words of thanks. “I am grateful to the Lord that missionaries left their families and homes to share about God and His Son bringing salvation for all the world. Because of that, many people all through the jungles here are now His children and have an eternal home.”