Benjie Bensing – Tripoli, Libya

Leptis Magna. courtesy of Evelyn Ocbania

Leptis Magna. courtesy of Evelyn Ocbania

Libya is a beautiful country. When I first came here in April 2010, things were not so complicated as it is today. Now I realized how things have changed and how time flies. Time is like a river: swift, unrestrained, yet calm and purposive. It has no boundaries, no limits; it flows unafraid to distant shores where it finally ends.

As I looked back, I feel like a stranger to this country I call my second home. No, I didn’t change. I’m still the same man. Only the things around me, the things that the society deems valuable, the priorities, the human aspect of the societal spectrum has evolved. Whether for the better or for the worse, only time will tell. The more I thought about it, the more I feel the emptiness in my heart. It’s so strange to feel how heavy emptiness is.

I’ll be honest with you: it’s difficult to stay in a place like this. You can’t think much except wonder when things are going to change and become better. Every day is an eager anticipation of what will happen next. My ears have become immune to gunshots, my courage has been severely tested under fire. I remember a few months ago, I was travelling in a taxi one evening, with our Senior Pastor, to lead a Bible Study in one of the hospital accommodations for Filipinos in Tripoli. As the taxi approaches a road, two blocks away from where the Bible Study is going to be held, there were armed men on both sides of the road, firing indiscriminately live ammunitions. Some were using automatic rifles, others have Kalashnikov and hand guns. The Libyan driver of the taxi acted nonchalantly, as if he did not see anything. Well, I saw everything and heard everything. When you are a foreigner in a situation like that, the gunshots and the mayhem awakens the senses and adds fuel to the imagination. But God is really good and He is indeed faithful!

You can’t make new memories in a place like this – not pleasant ones anyway. It seems the creative mind has stopped working. There are no lasting impressions that can be retained: only dull and repetitive moments – insufferable loneliness that assails the heart and cripples the mind rendering it desolate.

As I walk the hallway going to my office I can feel the weight pressing down on me though I can’t understand why. All I can think of are the happy faces of my children and the sweet, wonderful voice of my wife. I’d like to be with them. I missed those noisy voices in the morning and the smell of hot coffee in the kitchen as my kids prepare themselves to go to school.

Libya is my second home but it is also my inhospitable host. In the midst of all chaos and lawlessness and apathy, there is still hope. No question about it. There is a future waiting to be staked, a blank page waiting to be written. The only question for now is by whom. The old generation is lost. The new generation – may God be with them – is the only hope of this once great nation to become great again.

This I believe. That is why I chose to stay. I promised myself that soon I’ll be home.


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