[Editor's note: Dennis and Connie Byler work under the auspices of Mennonite Mission Network (U.S) and Mennonite Witness (Canada) with the five Anabaptist congregations in Spain, most closely with the Burgos Mennonite Church. Dennis is also on the faculty of the United Evangelical Theological Seminary of Madrid.]
On September 11, 2001, exactly two years and six months ago, our family was in the United States as the whole country suffered the trauma of the destruction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.
Today, March 11, 2004, we are again glued to the TV and radio, sharing this same experience with another nation as it tries to digest a massive terrorist attack. Once again, I am invaded by a sense of infinite sadness. I assume the terrorist attack against Madrid has been covered by the news media around the world and does not need to be described here.
While the scale of this attack is smaller than 9-11, the sorrow is no less. It is impossible to concentrate on anything else when you think of kids murdered on their way to class, twisted and charred baby carriages, fathers or mothers, husbands or wives who will not be coming home after work tonight.
Over the past 20 years or so, our small congregation in Burgos has prayed, with more or less consistency, more or less intensity, for an end to terrorist violence in this country. We have a vision for this country: a vision that the true defenseless, non-resistant gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ will one day penetrate the darkness and wickedness which freezes human souls and turns us against each other.
If I know the people of Spain, they will continue to face terrorism with great dignity and profound wisdom. A lonely voice here or there may question whether it is wise to have abolished the death penalty, but they will be answered with conviction. The lessons of four decades of Fascism in the mid-twentieth century will not be forgotten: state violence is in the end always a worse plague than the worst of terrorisms.
The purpose of this is to specifically request that you take a moment right now, as you read this, to think a prayer to God for Madrid, and for all the people of Spain. Thank you.
With a heavy heart,