Emmy is the wife of Domingos*, a church planter in France.
We are Brazilian missionaries in Paris. In this “first world” missionary field, we had grown accustomed to the subtle and wily attacks from the unrighteous. But on a Friday, in November of 2015, terror exposed to the world how truly dark the ‘city of lights’ actually is.
During the pregnancy of my second child, I suffered some quite serious ventricular tachycardia (rapid resting heart rate), to the point where the doctors had to deliver her a month and a half before her due date. Since she was born, almost two years had gone by and I had never again suffered from this. Until the 13th of November, when I woke up feeling a lot of arrhythmias. As the day advanced, the tachycardia got worse, and by nighttime my husband and I decided it would be best for me to go to the hospital. He would stay at home with the kids.
I got ready, and just as I reached the front door, I received a call from my aunt in Brazil asking me if I was alright. At first I thought that she somehow knew about my heart issues that day, but I learned soon enough what she was talking about: the gruesome attacks that had taken place in Paris that night.
It is hard to describe all that happened after that––the suffering and pain, the mourning, the prayers and tears. Authorities advised all to stay at home, and hospitals were overcrowded. There was no point in going, but at the same time my heart rhythm got worse, and we were very concerned.
I do not want this to sound like a novel, so I will go ahead and tell you that, by the grace of God, everything went well. I ended up having a minor heart surgery during the week that followed the attacks, and I have had no issues since. However, I would like to share with you what we learned while going through this, and how God has been working in our family and in this city.
On one hand, we Christians should expect such difficult times to come. Our Lord made it very clear that moments and events like these would happen. On the other hand, facing such explicit evil––and the pain that results from it––is overwhelming.
It is even more heartbreaking to see a suffering people with no one to whom they can run for comfort. Empty wishes of “light,” “good energy,” and “positivity” opened our eyes even wider to the desperate need of the gospel in this nation. In one of the most relativistic societies I have ever met, suddenly everyone is “praying for Paris”––praying to a God they ordinarily judge as non-existent, a God they do not know.
During this difficult time for France as a whole, we personally endured difficult days ourselves, but with one vital difference: we had true, substantive comfort. Instead of “positivity,” we experienced the sweet and powerful Holy Spirit. Instead of despair, we were very certain of the reasons of our hope; and though we were perplexed, we knew we were never abandoned. This was true only by God’s amazing grace––all glory to the Lord!
What was very clear to us is that we must share this with the French people to the best of our abilities. It was undoubtedly a weekend full of attacks from the enemy of our souls, but by God’s grace the outcome of all of this in our lives was closer proximity to God, a stronger will to do His work, and grateful hearts. As my husband put it in an article he wrote following the attacks:
"He reigns; He comforts; He judges righteously; He converts evil into good; He turns darkness into light. His character precedes His actions, and He does not hide in the face of seemingly unjust suffering. Rather, He 'justifies himself in a suffering world' (John Stott) in an explicit and clear manner: exposing His only Son, the Righteous, on the wood on top of a mountain."