Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: June 2015

Monday, June 29, 2015

Elephants, Leopards, Killer Bees, and the Gay Marriage Debate

Horrified, I ran for my life. Fear gripped me as I listened to my daughter in the distance ahead of me screaming and crying in terror. How did this happen? This was like a scene in a bad movie, and yet it was inescapable.

Just moments before, we were laughing and chatting about our latest find. We were on safari in the Masaii Mara, admiring God’s handiwork. We had up close visits with elephants, watched hyenas scoping out the land, and even saw a few wildebeests in the distance. We were on the hunt for the elusive leopard. Our eyes peered into the trees searching for any signs of movement, when out of nowhere, we were attacked.

At first it was just a couple of bees flying in our open topped matatu. It seemed like in an instant, we were surrounded by swarming bees. They began stinging me as I tried desperately to kill them. In the seat in front of me, Jeff was swatting at them with his hat and stomping them with his feet. I could hear our friends and our daughter screaming for the driver, “Go!” And yet, we remained. By now the stings on my face were continuous; the pain was excruciating. The worst part was I didn’t see an end to the throngs of bees attacking us.

As the number of bees grew, Jeff began yelling for someone to open the door. He knew that if we remained in the van, the results could be fatal. Yet leaving the van was prohibited – there were wild animals outside and we were in leopard country. As he continued to holler for someone to open the door,  Jorjanne freed us and jumped out. Once we were out of the van, the situation began to make sense. Our van was stuck with one tire off of the ground. As the driver pushed the gas pedal, exhaust had flooded straight into the bee’s hive.

We began running…the bees followed. Charles, our driver, screamed, “Don’t run far; there are wild animals that will attack.” He handed me a Masaii blanket and told me to wave it in the air to scare away any animals. With one hand I swatted at the bees and with the other I frantically waved the blanket in the air. We were all screaming as we ran past the other van with our friends looking at us with horrified expressions. They could not help us. If they opened the doors, they too, would be attacked.

We continued to run when another van came to our rescue. At first they thought we were jumping up in down in celebration. They wondered if someone had gotten engaged. When they saw me waving the blanket, they realized something was terribly wrong. There van was enclosed (no open top) and they began yelling for us to get into their van. As we entered, so did a few bees. Killing the bees that entered, they began to assess the situation. One of my friends looked at me and said, “Oh my gosh! You have stingers all in your face.” I began to weep. One by one, my friend pulled at the stingers. A stranger in the new van offered us all antihistamines – a gift the nurse later said was timely and saved us from further complications.  At last we were safe.

I am struck by the devotion of the bees to protect the hive at all costs. We later learned that we had been attacked by African killer bees. They are called this not because their sting is more poisonous but because of the vast number of bees that join forces to attack. Once they sting, they will die. They literally sacrificed their own lives for the sake of the hive.

As I’ve reflected on what happened, I’ve looked for life lessons. What take away would God have me to learn from this experience? As Christians, we know who the real enemy is. Are willing to work together, and do whatever it takes to protect the Church from his attacks?

Since the SCOTUS decision on gay marriage, I have been brokenhearted at the response of Christians on social media. Supporters on both sides have attacked those with opposing views like much like the killer bees. One person makes a comment and a hundred more counter, kicking the bee hive.

The words thrown back and forth between the groups are causing division within the Church. Regardless of a person’s stance on gay marriage, the person is someone with dignity that deserves to be treated with respect. I’ve read posts where people in support of gay marriage call those who are not uneducated bigots, and I’ve read people against gay marriage tell supporters that they are going to hell for their beliefs. Arguing an issue is one thing, but casting stones at people is another. When we think we can belittle others because they see things differently than we do, we show disrespect.

My point is that we do our part to stop attacking other Christians who view this issue differently. Will we do our part to uphold the sanctity of the Church and come together and pray for our nation during this time of division? If we don’t, people will continue to be stung, and the results could be disastrous.

*Feel free to comment on this post, but please exercise restraint from attacking people on either side of the debate.

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