When Monieka chose to take her life, I’m certain she had no thought of how it would impact those around her. She was young and short-sighted, living in the moment. What disturbed me most was the absolute finality of her decision and the total helplessness of anyone to reverse it. As I wept with the students and staff that Friday morning, it seemed as though nothing else mattered. There was no, “it’s going to be alright,” because it never would be. Monieka would never sing that song we had been working on for the recital. She would never participate in Basic Work Habits class again. She would not fulfill her promise to serve with another student at the local women’s shelter on Wednesday evenings.
I was angry. At first my anger was directed at Monieka because she had played the fool. She had become a pawn in Satan’s service. She had left a staff member and her room mate with an indelible visual image that would plague them every time they closed their eyes for weeks to come, if not longer.
Slowly my anger toward Monieka has changed to a profound sadness for a life that ended too soon. My sadness is mingled with empathy. Did she know how each student and staff member would struggle with guilt as they rehearsed the final hours before she secluded herself in her dorm room? No, she couldn’t have known the questions that would hound her classmates and the staff. She was only thinking of herself at that moment. And then it was too late.
I have never been this close to a suicide before and I pray I never will be again. In those first moments after I received the news I was incredulous. How could this be? How could God bring anything good out of this? It was all darkness and evil. There was nothing redemptive, nothing good. The “last enemy” had won a stunning victory. Satan was doubtless elated.
A long weekend ensued. Staff remained on campus around the clock. The Board president and his wife came to offer support and counsel. Several people brought food. People around the world assured us of their prayers. Decisions had to be made about the dorm. At first all the girls were moved out. They slept on couches, on floors, or in the few empty beds in the other women’s dorm. But by Tuesday, the first day classes were again resumed, it was time to claim the dorm for Jesus again.
Native cultures are animistic. Traditional people spend their whole lives striving to avoid angering the spirits. Among the unsaved Navajo fear of death and of the dead guides much of what they do. In light of this, the decision was made to make the room in which the suicide took place available for staff and students as a place of prayer while not requiring anyone to move back in just yet. Anyone who wanted to walk through the dorm, into that room, and place a flower on the desk., would be encouraged to do so. Fresh linens lay on the beds, covered with beautiful handmade quilts lovingly prepared by a work crew this past summer. An open Bible lay on the desk. Would any of the Native students have the courage to walk through and claim this site for Christ?
After chapel the invitation was made. Support from staff and fellow students was readily available. Tears once again welled up in my eyes as I watched in gratitude as every single student and staff member rose to their feet and one by one defied evil by prayerfully walking down that long hallway and into the room where death had taken place. There were no exceptions. Everyone went.
I believe there was a major victory that day. Two of the students have moved back into the dorm now, though not yet into that room. We plan to fill the dorm again next semester, Lord willing.
Thank you for all the prayers, notes, and Facebook posts from so many of you. We are most grateful. Please pray with the same fervency now that classes have resumed and we are wrapping up our first term (tomorrow). All the students and many of the staff (not myself this time) will be embarking on the annual camp out at Lake Powell over the up-coming weekend.
- Pray for safety on the camp out and that God would work in their midst in a mighty way.
- Pray for continued comfort and healing in the lives of staff, students, and Monieka’s family as her memory is still with us.
- Pray for our fall conference at the end of October (details forthcoming in the IBC newsletter), that steps would be made toward greater ethnic diversity in local congregations and in future ministries of the students.
- Pray for God’s provision for the newest property purchase (“the Barn,” administrative building).
- Pray that I might continue to grow up in Christ and be effective for His Name’s sake.
- Most of all, pray that God would be glorified and would have the victory on the campus of Indian Bible College. He always has the last word!!