"Then he said to them, "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions." (Luke 12:15)
Alan Johnston was a British reporter working for the BBC. He was the BBC correspondence in Gaza, within the Palestinian territory.
What began like a normal day for Alan, ended in a journey that would change his life forever. He was kidnapped on March 12, 2007 by a group known as Army of Islam. Usually, kidnappings of foreigners in Gaza was negotiated and the victim released within an hour or a day at most. Alan's case was different. He was held hostage for the next 4 months. The next time he was seen by anyone was when a video of him was shown with a bomb vest tied to his chest, reading out the demands of the kidnappers.
Not too long after this, Hamas took over control of Gaza and demanded that the Army of Islam release Alan, threatening to hunt and kill them if they failed to release him. Alan was eventually released on July 4, 2007.
As I was watching Alan narrate his ordeal, I couldn't help but think of what his emotional state would have been like in captivity. Day in, day out, locked up in a place where he didn't see the sun rising or setting, not seeing the birds fly happily about or watching the ants busy gathering their food. These are among the many things we are too busy to notice but which Alan would have loved to see during his lonely hours.
One important lesson Alan learnt from his ordeal is, and I quote, 'I have gained too a deeper sense of the value of freedom. Perhaps only if you have ever been some kind of prisoner, can you truly understand its worth. And in my captivity in Gaza, I learnt again that oldest of lessons. That in life, all that really, really matters, are the people you love." (Courtesy BBC)
Alan was only echoing what Jesus said in Luke 12:15. It is not the riches we have acquired, the degrees, the positions attained that really matters at the end of the day. There comes a time when all these things will fade into insignificance and the only thing that would matter is your relationship with God and man.
I don't know Alan's spiritual state but one thing I am sure of is that he had the opportunity to experience God in ways so many of us never did. I only hope that he took advantage of that opportunity.
What are you living for today? What is your passion? What is your focus? Whatever your answer is, ensure that God is in the middle of it or else it is only a matter of time before you realize that all you have struggled to build up no longer matters.
Steve Popoola is the editor of Biblepraise Newsletter and the owner of Biblepraise Fellowship Online at http://www.biblepraise.org. He lives in London where he works as an IT professional. He currently serves in the worship team in at his local church and on occasion, speaks at invited events. He is the Moderator/Editor of Biblepraise Newsletter. He can be reached through His email address,firstname.lastname@example.org