Knowing Death May Come

They Go Anyway

Madrid, Spain, the stylish, hip, multicultural capital city, has captured my attention, so I swooped up the September 2014 issue of Architectural Digest to drink in the stunning photographs from the article “Maximum Madrid” and satisfy my hankering for exotic art I could enjoy in my living room.

Little did I know how soon the city would be affected with great sadness. No, not only the city, but the world.

Spanish missionary priest, Father Miguel Pajares, passed away at Carlos III Hospital after being sent there from Liberia where he served for over 50 years. He died from severe internal bleeding caused by the Ebola virus.

The virus also took the lives of Sister Paciencia Melgar Ronda, Superior of Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception in Monrovia, and Sister Chantal Pascale. There are others.

Why Risk One Life for Another?

The call to travel and serve others in foreign lands had its debut in antiquity. Abram left the Land of Ur after hearing God tell him to “Go forth.” The trek changed his life, no doubt, but newly dubbed Abraham, his obedience to the call also changed the course of history.

Many of the missionaries who served in the Old Spanish Missions probably heard a similar command.

The first martyrs in the New World, brother Luis de Ubeda, and Friar Minor fray Juan de Padilla, died sometime around 1542-44, the former in what is now New Mexico, and the latter somewhere around Kansas.

What motivated these men? Could the elder brother de Ubeda have suffered a weariness of travel and embraced a contentment to stay put? Did fray de Padilla long to find the riches of the fabled seven Portuguese Bishops who escaped Iberia in the eighth century? Did he hope to bring the Gospel to those Indians who are today known of as Wichita and Pawnee? Was it both? More?

Conviction without Contradiction

Recently, on the Today Show, host Matt Lauer spoke with Jeremy Writebol, whose mother, Nancy Writebol, is suffering from Ebola, and whose father is under suspicion of having the virus. When asked if his family would return to Liberia and serve those who are suffering, Jeremy said, “This is what they’ve been called to do, and this is what they feel in their heart–”

This is Their Mission

At the segment’s close, Matt commented, “This is not a hobby for them. This is their mission. This is their calling, and so there’s a better than average chance that they would want to be back with the people of Liberia.” . . . knowing death may come.


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