When a missionary’s position becomes a matter of mystery, maybe we should avoid the Manawatu

Livingstone didn’t stay missing for ever.

The Grumbles will be changing their shopping habits henceforth and giving Palmerston North a miss.

Yeah, Alf and his missus know it’s a jungle out there.

But the Manawatu is not the sort of jungle in which missionaries go missing, surely.

How wrong can you be.

Stuff reports (here) the grim news –

Missionary missing in Palmerston North

Alf doesn’t doubt it can be a tough life, being a missionary.

He was raised in a God-fearing household which admired the exploits of the likes of David Livingstone, who vanished somewhere in darkest Africa only to be found some years later by – of all people – a newspaper hack.

Wikipedia tells us here

Henry Morton Stanley, who had been sent to find him by the New York Herald newspaper in 1869, found Livingstone in the town of Ujiji on the shores of Lake Tanganyika on 10 November 1871, greeting him with the now famous words “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” to which he responded “Yes”, and then “I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you.”

More recently, Alf was fascinated to learn (here) that –

It’s been almost three years since Bryant, Ala., native Bob Norton and his wife Neiba disappeared in the jungle of Venezuela with five other passengers on board his Cessna plane.

The husband-wife medical aviation missionary team and their patients were last seen taking off from Karun, Venezuela, on Feb. 16, 2009. Norton’s final in-flight radio transmission was an urgent yet unintelligible call to his assistant at his home base in Maurak.

Intense search efforts took place in the days following the plane’s disappearance. Three days into the search efforts, one of the search helicopters received a six-second voice transmission—in English—on an emergency frequency. However, the helicopter pilot spoke very little English, so he could not make out what was said. The area was searched, but the wreckage has still not been found.

This sadly illustrates why everyone in the world should be obliged to learn how to speak English.

Otherwise, when we get into trouble in foreign parts, our chances of being rescued are seriously reduced.

On the other hand, there have been stories of missionaries who lose their faith in the jungle (as we learn here).

Daniel L. Everett, a missionary and linguist, first stepped into the Amazonian jungle in 1977 to learn the language of the Pirahas – a hunter-gatherer tribe native to the Amazon.

His intention was not only to learn the language of this remote tribe but also to translate the bible in their language and bring them to Jesus.

What happened in the decades that followed was surprising. Living with the Pirahas – who do not have a word for god or religion – Everett learnt that one does not need belief in the supernatural to be happy. That people do not need to be “saved” by Jesus to live a life of contentment.

These observations led Everett to question his beliefs critically and ultimately led him to reject his faith.

Mind you, missionaries don’t have to venture into jungles to run into trouble.

Two American tourists (see here) were abducted while on a missionary trip to Egypt not so long ago.

Pastor Michel Louis, 61, and church goer Lisa Alphonse, 39, both from Boston, Massachusetts, were taken hostage along with their guide on Friday.

Egyptian Bedouin, Jirmy Abu-Masuh, who kidnapped the pair after stopping their tour bus has threatened to take more hostages if police do not release his uncle from prison.

But missing in Palmerston North?

That’s got to be a joke – right?

Well, no.

Police are concerned for safety of an American missionary who was last seen on Monday in Palmerston North.

Alec Morgan Ragan, 20, was last seen at his Terrace End address, police said.

Ragan was described as having a thin build, standing 173cm tall and having short, tidy blond to mousey brown hair.

Anyone with information about Ragan’s whereabouts is asked to contact police.

The poor bugger is unlikely to have encountered headhunters, in that neck of the woods.

But he might have tripped innocently into the Labour Party’s electorate headquarters.

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