As a way to deal with the 2020 pandemic, I am remembering God’s goodness and protection and telling of his works to the next generation. This is the fourth in the series (#1 Up in Smoke, #2 Women and Children First, #3 The Riot Through a Child’s Eyes) on the Lombok riots of 2000 — another time when life was upended, uncertain, and anxiety-ridden.
Headlines in the final months of 1999 read like this:
Remember, turn off your computer before midnight on 12/31/99. —Best Buy Ad
Will computers melt down? Will society? —TIME Magazine
Year 2000 Bug will turn machine against man —Weekly World News
Warnings: Shut down electronic utilities. Prison gates open. Terrorist attacks. Wild dog packs. —CNN
Speculation abounded about whether a computer programming shortcut which allowed only two digits in dates would cause havoc in the electronic and specifically the banking world. This scare, known as Y2K, caused us to pause and take a few extra precautions. Before the clock struck midnight on the new millennium, my husband took a significant bundle of cash out of the bank.
January 1 arrived and nothing happened. We hid the cash. Then January 17 erupted around us and we grabbed the cash.
God, in his foresight, knew that 20,000 Muslims would go on a four day rioting spree systematically burning churches and homes of Christians on the island of Lombok, Indonesia. He knew banks would be closed and we would need cash in hand.
After we evacuated to the neighboring island of Bali, looting and vandalism continued on Lombok for two more weeks. We set up temporary home in a hotel suite and I tried to create order for our family by maintaining some routine.
My husband, along with our teammates, focused on finding our local Christian friends and co-workers. Once they were located, we purchased tickets and provided food, clothing and shelter for as many as we could.
We also debriefed each one. While we could fall back on our status as “tourists,” they were the target of the hate. It was their lives that were in danger. We listened in horror to their stories of escape, hiding out in forests and rice paddies, sheltered in police barracks, listening to gun shots and eating ramen noodles three times a day. Many had lost their homes or at least all their belongings, burned by angry crowds of Muslims, shouting “Kill the Christians!” but not one lost their life.
As I went to the Lord on behalf of my hurting friends, he spoke to me from the book of Isaiah (NLT):
Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim my purposes for you long ago? You are my witnesses—is there any other God? No! There is no other Rock—not one!Isaiah 44:8
In quietness and confidence is your strength.Isaiah 30:15
You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, whose thoughts are fixed on you.Isaiah 26:3
Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.Isaiah 40:31
Though I walk through valleys low, I will fear no evil. By the waters, still my soul. My heart will trust in you.paraphrase of Psalm 23
The scare of Y2K ended up a means of provision for us. And then after everything settled down, several churches in Singapore covered everyone’s expenses — ours, our teammates, and our local partners.
How has God provided for you in ways that only his foresight could have known?
Which words from Isaiah encourage you today and why?
O God my Rock and Provider, I am reminded that apocalyptic warnings and end time predictions are nothing new. Help me to release their control over me by not giving in to fear, but instead trust in you. Thank you for the strength and peace that you provide when I fix my thoughts on you, not on speculations. As you provided for me twenty years ago, I affirm that you are the same God who will continue to care for me.
Next in series: Narrow Escape