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Love overcomes evil!

The terrorists who attacked the Splendid Hotel in Ouagadougou, the capital city of Burkina Faso, killed 28 people from 18 countries. During the 15-hour siege, special forces from Burkina Faso and France killed the 4 terrorists and freed 156 hostages. The hotel was specifically targeted because it is a place where foreigners are known to meet.

One of the people killed in the attack was an American missionary, Mike Riddering, who served with the domestic violence organisation Sheltering Wings. Burkina Faso is one of the poorest countries in the world. Mike, and his wife, Amy, have 4 children and have been involved in running orphanages and schools in Burkina Faso. There are more than 500,000 orphans in the country and 1 in 5 children die before they are 5 years old. They also ran programmes providing food and clean water.

After hearing of Mike’s death, Amy wrote a tribute to him, “Heaven has gained a warrior! I know God has a purpose in all things, but sometimes it is a complete mystery to me. My best friend, partner in crime and love of my life. The best husband ever. An amazing father to his children and a papa to everyone. My heart is so heavy and I am having trouble believing he is gone. Mike was an example in the way he lived and loved. God be glorified!

On the same day as the terrorist attack, an Australian missionary doctor, Dr Ken Elliot, and his wife, Jocelyn, were kidnapped by terrorists in northern Burkina Faso and taken to Mali. Ken, who is 80, and Jocelyn have lived in Burkina Faso since 1972 and opened a hospital in Djibo. Ken helped to build the hospital with his own hands. It is the only hospital serving that region and Ken is the only surgeon, performing 150 operations each month. Ken and Jocelyn have dedicated their lives to serving the people of Burkina Faso and have saved many lives and brought hope to many people.

Jesus is the inspiration for everything that Mike and Amy and Ken and Jocelyn have done. Because they have experienced his love for them they have gladly dedicated their lives to loving and serving the people of Burkina Faso. They know for certain that Jesus is the resurrection and the life and whoever believes in him will live, even though they die. Their greatest desire is that the people amongst whom they have lived, and even their enemies, might also experience the amazing love of Jesus.

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Thought

The Servant Queen and the Servant King

King George VI died on 6 February 1952 and his daughter Elizabeth acceded to the throne as Queen Elizabeth II. I was a young boy at the time and remember the day because normal radio programmes were cancelled, including Listen with Mother! That day I did not hear the familiar words, “Are you sitting comfortably? Then I’ll begin.”

Queen Elizabeth has now reigned for 60 years, the second longest reigning British monarch in history. She has won the love and respect of her own people and many people around the world. In 1999 Australians were offered a choice between Queen Elizabeth and becoming a Republic and voted for the Queen!

At the beginning of her Diamond Jubilee year the Queen thanked people for their wonderful support and encouragement and wrote a message to the nation. “In this special year, as I dedicate myself anew to your service, I hope that we will all be reminded of the power of togetherness and the convening strength of family, friendship and good neighbourliness, examples of which I have been fortunate to see throughout my reign.” She said she was looking forward to the future “with a clear head and a warm heart.”

In the New Testament we are exhorted to pray “for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” This is remarkable when you remember that many Christians, including the apostle Paul who wrote those words, died at the command of the Roman Emperor! Paul taught that “the authorities that exist have been established by God” and are “God’s servants, who give their full time to governing.” Queen Elizabeth is an excellent example of a monarch who has whole-heartedly served her people. We thank God for her and pray that he will continue to bless her.

Even the best of earthly kings and queens reign only for a time, but Jesus Christ is the King of kings and reigns forever. He came into the world “not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Living under his gracious reign brings true freedom and unmitigated blessings. His commands are always for our good. He loves us and protects us from all harm. We are glad to pray, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen!”