By Debbie Ogunjobi
A man takes his children on a weekend of camping; they have a beautiful time, meet others and are about setting off back home. To round off the trip, the elder daughter decides to go for one last boat ride with her brother and as they head back disaster strikes.
The boat capsizes and traps her younger brother and the father jumps in to rescue his son; it is almost impossible as the panic stricken boy struggles and almost drowns them both; by a miracle the son is saved and they end up on shore , shaken but thankful. Everyone present comes together to celebrate the heroic act of a father which saved the life of a son and it takes a while before anyone notices that the baby of the family, Missy, is gone.
The little girl with the infectious laugh is gone; a search by friends and family, police troopers, well wishers and the FBI yields nothing. Missy had been taken by a serial killer who left a ladybird as a signature and the only thing found much later is her blood stained dress in a shack in a deserted mountain side.
The story above is that of Mackenzie Allen Philips; it is told by his friend William P Young in a book titled â€œThe Shackâ€. It details the events before and after Missyâ€™s abduction and tells a story the world needs to hear. It is presented as fiction but the readers are left to draw their conclusions of what they are willing to accept as true.
It marks the period in Mackâ€™s life he describes as the Great Sadness. It is a book that embodies the nightmare of every parent; we all secretly dread that our children may meet a fate so cruel that we are unable to prevent and redress.
In Mackâ€™s particular situation, he is left to contain the great sadness while still being a source of comfort to his grieving wife and his other children. As is usual when such a tragedy befalls a person; his faith is shaken and his confidence is destroyed; he begins to question the fundamentals of good and bad, the existence and benevolence of God, the evil of man and the unfairness of it all.
There is nothing as emotionally debilitating as impotence, the helplessness that one feels when at the danger of the elements, or cruelty of man to man. It is unimaginable when such evil is unleashed on an innocent child, with the parents totally helpless to prevent, protect or redress.
In this state of mind, Mack begins to fantasise about ending it all; suicide seemed to be the only panacea from the pain that turned his feet to lead, his laugh to a grumble and his heart to a putrid and festering wound. On a lonely winter morning, with his wife and children out for the day, Mack finds a note, inviting him to the Shack and signed Papa.
It would have been easy to dismiss the note as the cruel prank from a wicked psycho but it had a fearful and even sinister significance.
The shack had been the place where Missyâ€™s bloody dress had been found; it was the centre of Mackâ€™s pain, grief, rage and the place where his child had been tortured and murdered!Â Who would dare make light of such an event? The second puzzling aspect of the note was the Papa; it was the name his wife called God. Only his family knew that. Who on earth was masquerading as God and inviting him to visit the location of his personal hell?
Mack decides to go to the shack, telling only his friend Willy and he takes a journey to a destination that is a sure fire trigger of a new realm of thought and spirituality for the world as we know it. He went armed and prepared for any eventualities as he could not discountenance the possibility of coming face to face with Missyâ€™s killer. He does come face to face with God and it had not been a prank and he meets with a God who is a Father but manifests in the shape of black woman.
He meets with Jesus, a man of middle eastern origin with a love of wood work and the Holy Spirit in the form of a luminous Asian woman. He is able to express his disappointment and his rage at God/Papa who condones and permits evil, he finds it easier to bond with Jesus and spends time learning and appreciating the wonder of creation.
He spends time with Sarayu, the name chosen by the Holy Spirit, and he is immersed in the wild chaos that is his mind. Before the end of his weekend at the Shack, God/Papa manifests as a man and he is able to reconcile himself to redemption offered by the reconciliation of Godâ€™s love.
The only way to enjoy my account is to get the book. A friend lent me her copy(thanks Audrey) and I loved it so much I couldnâ€™t return it till I got mine to buy off a bookseller in Lagos Island. I hear itâ€™s available in most bookshops. It is a must read!!(To be continued)