06 August 2005

The Turnover

It has happened. On Monday of this last week, August 1st 2005, the International Christian Academy (ICA) campus was turned over to Mission Baptiste de Côte d'Ivoire (MBCI) now known as WorldVenture. Having been asked by MBCI to be the one responsible for the running of the former school campus, I was the one to receive the keys. So it was, less than one week ago, Dan Grudda, the former director of ICA handed me the keys and handed me part of the agreed to sum for the good running of the campus for the next five years. This of course is a major change in our program.

Three years ago had you asked if I would ever be doing something like this I would have laughed outright. I am still laughing in disbelief that this is actually the case. This is one of those cases of doing something one knows needs to be done but not something one really would like to be doing. I have found however, that in helping out our team in Côte d'Ivoire in this manner, God is very likely going to put us in ministry situations that would otherwise be impossible. For this reason, if no other, I am looking forward to what the next couple of years may bring.

Because this campus is now occupied by the French forces of Operation Licorne we are experiencing a fair measure of security. The ICA campus is probably one of the safest places to live at in the country at the moment. However, knowing the way military tends to work, it is very possible that this could change overnight. One call from President Jacque Chirac and voila! As Côte d'Ivoire continues down the road towards peace, the French military presence may or may not be necessary. Time will tell. There are many in the country who believe that they should leave, whereas others are convinced that their presence is the only thing keeping the country from falling into all-out war. When you pray for Côte d'Ivoire you could pray for these troops many who have families at home and the normal concerns that all of us have.

If you were to visit ICA now, you would find it very different that it used to be. We have concertina-wire and barbed-wire all around the campus and on top of the security wall. There is a road that now encircles the entire facility. When you arrive at the entrance to ICA you are looking down the barrels of several guns that could finish you off quicker than it takes to write it down. Sand-bagged bunkers on both sides of the road and rows of barbed-wire everywhere gives you the impression that you are entering a war zone. If you were coming from Bouaké you would have that impression already. If, on the other hand, you were arriving from the east, which is outside the rebel zone, you might be taken back. So it is at the place we hope to call home for the next couple of years.

For those of you who know me and my background, it would seem that my life has come full circle. ICA is where I first went to school as a first grader. I can remember hours spent making tracks in the dirt play ground and driving our matchbox cars along these “roads” with our friends as we learned how to play in a civilized manner with each other (sometimes more and sometimes less as kids are known to do). All that made this place a school for some forty years is now gone. There are no children anymore to play Fishy or Prisoner’s Base.

The classrooms are full of stuff, preserved against the day that another school may perhaps again sing within its walls. The dorms are full, but with men trained to keep the peace. The roads are full with support vehicles, scout vehicles, troop carriers, and the French equivalent of the US military jeep, the Peugeot built P4. Of activity there is no end. Helicopters coming and going, troops coming or leaving, meals cooking or being eaten, it all is in the name of peace and I find myself in the middle of it all. Aside from the few African workers they have hired, I am the only civilian on campus. It is certainly strange to find oneself in such a context.

Outside being in, included though not, a part of the whole and yet apart from it. So is life in this strange twist of life as it has come upon me in these days of standoff, détente, waiting, wondering. Now that I think about it, I can remember feeling a bit this way when I was in first grade! Interesting how life is that way. Guess that I am going to have to think more about this. Maybe it’s a sign of growing young again! Now there is a thought to stick in your pipe and smoke!

Thanks for your prayers these days.


Lori (Gould, ICA '77) McKee said...

Yay, we can comment now. Love your blog, Rod, esp. this one about the turnover to ICA - but I thought it always DID belong to World Venture (CBI-CBFMS) - haha! Really saddened by the pending loss of ICA as some of my happiest childhood days were spent there (ok, and some sad ones, too) I had always hoped to take my husband/family/friends back there to see the beautiful campus and understand a little more about my upbringing. Glad you are going to be there to keep an eye on things for a while anyway.

Greg Gould said...

Hey Rod,
Great blog! I've enjoyed following your activities, especially your recent trip to ICA for "The Turnover". It's fun to reminisce about the old boarding school days. I wonder if the French soldiers are putting the soccer field to good use by actually playing on it...?

nancy g said...

Hey R & A, decided to check out your updates but I see you're still stuck in August, what's up?

Glad to hear the radio tower is up and running in Korhogo.