As most of you know, I grew up in Lima Peru. My parents were missionaries there from 1988 to 2001, and then were called back to the States to pastor our sending church. When we first arrived in Lima it was a pretty dangerous place. There were active terrorist groups really wreaking havoc on the country. The largest terrorist group was called the “shining path.” There were frequent bombings and thousands of people died at their hands. It was especially dangerous outside of Lima in the more remote areas. As a six year old little girl, I had no clue just how serious this was, or the extent of the bombings. I just remember being afraid. I remember that the power would go out all the time. That was mostly because they rationed electricity. You would have to use it while you had it, and have the candles and flashlights handy. Other times, the lights went out during the bombings. I remember hearing the bombs start, and then pitch blackness. It was really scary, especially to a child. In the instant before an explosion, you can almost feel the pressure change before you hear the blast. Then you hear the deafening sound, you feel the ground shake, the windows strain against the pressure (if they don’t break). When a bomb would go off, there would usually be more to follow. That would leave us trying to find each other in the pitch dark. Someone would light a candle and we would gather around the light. We would be together and somehow that made it a little less scary. My mom would put her arms around us and she would sing. She would sing, “God will take care of you, through every day and all the way. He will take care of you. God will take care of you.” She would always sing that song. I know that to most people it is a simple little children’s song, but to me it was a promise. An anchor. It was a weapon to wield against fear, and my mom wielded it well. And we sang in the dark, gathered around a few candles, together as a family, as the world around us was burning.
I remember another time there was a bombing while we were at church. Again, the power went out. Someone lit a candle in the middle of the room. The darkness didn’t affect our worship one bit because it was just guitars and tambourines. You can still worship in the dark. So we did. We sang Psalm 27:3. “Aunque un ejercito acampe contra mi, No temera mi corazon. Aunque contra me se levante guerra, Yo estare confiado en mi Salvador.” “Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise against me, yet I will be confident.” And gathered in the dark, with my Peruvian family, we sang. We sang as bombs went off in the city around us. We sang, and the fear subsided. We wielded our praise as a weapon to drown out fear. Those days were hard, but beautiful. I received a gift that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. A gift my mom gave me, as she held us and sang out in the darkness. A gift my Peruvian brothers and sisters gave me, as we praised God through fear and danger. That gift is the promise, that even when the lights go out and everything around you seems to be falling apart, you can still lift your voice and sing, because there is One Light that cannot be put out. There is no bomb that can destroy Him, no plot that can overthrow Him, no fear that can steal the peace that He gives. He has already won the war for our souls, and we live in the blinding light of His victory. And so we sing, even in the dark.