From: Dan Evans at DATUWALIMISSION [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Monday, August 25, 2008 11:44 PM
Subject: Considering our options
I slept for several hours. It’s 2:30 PM and we are discussing our options for tonight and future days/nights. The army and police are no where to be seen. They are probably giving nominal protection to the more densely populated areas, such as the main bodies of the two nearest towns (Maitum and Kiamba). Citizens are left to their own demise, which means run or hide. The problem for us, is that many eyes are upon us and our whereabouts known wherever we go. When threatened, the vast majority of the good people would probably divulge our whereabouts. But, telling the good from the bad can be difficult. Anywhere we might go in this community to seek refuge, is problematic.
We are told that the threat (and intelligence information) points to me as one of the rebel’s targets. I am to be used as a shield or for ransom. We are being encouraged to leave the area indefinitely, but finding an alternative is challenging. Tensions are high everywhere, even in General Santos City where one of the MILF commanders was captured yesterday. Davao City is a possibility, but for us to find lodging there, for possibly a week or more, is not likely. And, we would be traveling through more conflict areas on that 4-5 hour drive.
I am also concerned for the spiritual impact our escape might have on people here, who look up to us for our faith and leadership. My personal choice would be to park Aura and Jennifer in a safe place and remain here. But, Aurea will not stand for that. It is a battle that’s been raging inside me for days. Compounding the issue, is that my brother-in-law Arturo, who is the barangay (village) captain and an armed, retired Army Captain and National Police officer, left the village today to attend a "seminar," at the capitol. It may be a briefing meeting, but he won’t be here tonight, or possibly several more this week. He is the leader here when it comes to dispensing critical information to citizens, and heading up their patrols and self-defense program. He and his men guarded our compound and watched for rebel patrols all last night while we were cowering in Municipal Hall. Tonight, there will be little protection for villagers, and no factual information to apprise them of the dangers.
I must make a decision before dark (about 3 hours from now) and get my family to a safer place. Our compound is on the forest path and river route the rebels are taking in their run from the military. But, as I indicated, I am torn. I fought intense feelings of guilt all last night in our hiding place, for abandoning the villagers who live around us, people who live in little huts and houses, and who could be punished if the rebels can’t find me. These people don’t have an evacuation plan, transportation, or alternatives. But, we don’t have the firepower to resist a heavily armed group.
Please continue to pray for the safety of everyone here, but also for wisdom and discernment for myself. People are tugging on me in every direction: go here, go there, do this, do that — none of which seems very responsible when I take into consideration why God sent us here, or how God has promised to provide for our every need. I don’t want our departure in the midst of a storm to destroy our message of faith, trust and provision among the people here. And, should any of them suffer at the hands of the rebels, I could not live with myself for abandoning them. But, I also cannot callously sacrifice my family, or subject them to life in my absence because I did something foolish. It is a terrible personal battle.
Thank you for praying. Please continue.
Datu Wali Mission