As I slowed down on my motorbike to turn the corner by Wewak Christian Fellowship, I made a mental note of possible dangers. It’s really second nature by now because it has to be done constantly. Dogs roam the streets of town, and pigs and goats join them outside of town. Potholes in the road, traffic that doesn’t see you, kids that cross the road in front of you, people walking or sitting on the road; all deserve consideration. In this case, a young man walking on the side of the road just after the corner made my mental checklist. He had the looks of a person that would make you apprehensive if you were to meet a group of three of them walking towards you. Not that looks always tell the truth. Some of my good friends look like this guy.
As I turned the corner, I saw him make an abrupt change of direction and come quickly towards me on the road. “He must be drunk or high”, I thought, which makes him highly unpredictable! In his hand was a stick about a foot long which he raised menacingly as if he was going to swing it at me. I raised my arm in protection as the bike went past him right before he arrived. Accelerating away, I heard a thump on the road behind me. He had thrown something at me! At this point, I was arriving at a market and had other things to worry about, but the danger had passed. I couldn’t look back to see what was thrown because of the busyness around me.
As I continued on, I struggled with what I should feel. Anger is pointless. Anger put into action would not accomplish anything except destroy my testimony or get me beat up. Fear makes more sense. A moving motorcycle invites young kids to wave and smile, but also to occasionally roll small pebbles across the road. It sometimes brings more dangerous things from hazy minds. What if someone thows something that hits me? An object injected into the path of a motorcyclist hurts.
Yet fear is even more dangerous than anger. It wraps its cold tentacles around your heart and mind and makes you cower in your house, seeking only safety and comfort. It cares only for itself, and not anything about others. It brings paralysis and inaction. It doesn’t destroy your testimony; it keeps you from having one. Yet there is one thing greater than fear. One thing that can replace fear.
That afternoon I sat down with my friend, the pastor of Wewak Christian Fellowship, and he told me what happened after I left. Some police at the market had seen the young man throw a hammer and had taken him to the police station. I started wondering what had happened to him. Why is he drowning his life? What is he running away from? Why is he so angry at the world? Only one thing can help him. One thing can save him. The same thing that can save me from my fear: Love.