5:00 AM, April 2, 2015, Garissa University College, Garissa, Kenya.

For sleepy heads it’s time to roll over and get a few more hours of sleep.
For all nighters it’s time to grab another cup of coffee and push a little harder.
For serious students it’s time to get up and review for today’s exam.
For party types it’s time to find a bed somewhere and sleep it off once again.
For committed Christians it’s time to gather for prayer.
For al-Shabaab it’s time to kill.
For Josephine, student leader of the Cru movement on campus, it’s time to die…

The Christians gathered at the appointed time, 5:00 AM, under Josephine’s leadership. They stood in a circle, holding hands, singing praises to the Lord, and praying for their fellow students. Nothing told them that most were living their last few moments, that they faced a imminent entrance into eternity.

One of the men saw the door open and a man standing there with a gun. He thought he was one of the campus security guards until he opened fire and people screamed and fell, their final prayers ushering them into the Lord’s direct presence. They became the first Christians selected for Death that day.

Sometimes Death slinks in the corner and waits its turn before it strikes.

Other times Death lashes out suddenly and unexpectedly. Still other times Death stalks its victims, setting its sights on them, slowly sucking life out of them. Not so with Christians today. With Christians in our time, Death has removed its mask to reveal its hideous face, full of hatred, crude in its evil violence. So much for the Lord of life says arrogant Death. How can we respond as we stand in the shadow of the Grim Reaper? With the certainty that the resurrection Light of the crucified Jesus shines brighter and more beautifully than anything the brutal blackness of Death can do.

But do our lives reflect this Light? Do our thoughts reflect this Light? Do we recognize that Josephine is our sister? That she is one of us? That when Josephine died, a part of us died because we are in the body of Christ? Do we recognize that Josephine is the ultimate broken leader? And have we thought about what that brokenness means for us? Or is Josephine still just something that happens in far off Africa that has nothing to do with us, that can’t happen here?

Never have the immortal works of John Donne meant more than they do in today’s world where barefoot believers are beheaded on beautiful beaches, where others are forced to plant their faces in the desert sands to be shot in the head, while others are cast into the sea by heartless evil doers. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, Believer. It tolls for you. Every time.

From "Garissa" on Leader Formation International's Broken Leadership Blog.  Read more @ Broken Leadership Blog is about changing the leadership conversation from what we are doing with our hands to what God is doing through our hearts.


Bill Lawrence is the President of Leader Formation International, Senior Professor Emeritus of Pastoral Ministries and Adjunct Professor of DMin Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary where he served full-time for twenty-four years (1981-2005). During this time he also was the Executive Director of the Center for Christian Leadership for twelve years.

One Comment

  • SonShine

    A Stark Reminder of…

    the verse that says we are but a vapor. The quesiton before is this: are we living a Colossians 3 life so that we are unashamed when we are revealed in glory as a child of the King of Kings.

    Thanks for the reminder of how short life is here and how long eternity is.