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Nigerian terrorism scare justification for Sydney Paul

A deadly ambush has strengthened Deniliquin doctor Sydney Paul's desire to help the people of Nigeria.

ZOE MCMAUGH July 8, 2014 3:50am

Dr Sydney Paul and Kent Hodge post-Nigeria

Being shot at, watching a travel companion be shot and killed and being forced into Nigerian bushland with a gun in your back would be enough to stop most people from ever travelling again.

For Deniliquin doctor Sydney Paul, however, he said it only justifies his ongoing desire to help the people of Nigeria.

Dr Paul was involved in a deadly ambush in Nigeria on May 11 and this is the first time he spoken publicly about the deadly terrorism attack.

He was in the African country to see the work of the Christian Faith Ministries in the city of Jos, run by local couple Kent and Ruth Hodge.

Dr Paul, Mr Hodge and CFM employees Pastor Josie and Emmanuel Razack were travelling between the capital of Abuja and Jos when their car was among a line of vehicles ambushed by Nigerian Islamic Fulani militants.

The militants opened fire on all cars. Mr Razack, who was driving, was shot in the head and killed immediately.

Those who survived the gunfire were forced out their cars, held up at gun point and robbed of all valuable possessions before being forced into the surrounding bushland while the militants escaped.

Dr Paul, lucky to have been able to keep his passport concealed during the ambush, was taken straight to the airport in Abuja to flee the country.

He had only been in Nigeria for two days and didn’t get to see the CFM projects. But despite the bloodshed Dr Paul said he was encouraged to continue to offer his help to the terror-torn nation.

‘‘God’s word of grace and promise to me in Psalm 91:5 — ‘You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day’ — greatly reassured and gave me comfort (during the ordeal),’’ Dr Paul said.

‘‘Even though my mission ended prematurely, it has opened up more doors of opportunities to help the people of Nigeria, which I hope to support in future endeavours.

‘‘Although the incident was traumatic, seeing the Christ-like love shown to me by the local Nigerian Christians was nothing short of liberating.

‘‘After I had lost close to all my belongings, I will forever cherish the moment when two Nigerian women walked up to me at the airport and offered me money out of the kindness of their heart.

‘‘It reminds me when evil things happen in the world, God is always in control, and nothing could be more emancipating or reassuring to know that God is with me both in the good and bad times,’’ Dr Paul said.

‘‘Being a Christian and missionary allows me to assist those irrespective of their ethnological derivations and this incident has further strengthened my desire to continue to serve.’’

Dr Paul said his Shiloh Medical Practice would continue to provide financial and physical aid in training doctors, health workers, missionaries, building medical clinics, orphanages, women’s homes and schools for needy nations.

It will also continue to support Australian causes like cancer hospitals, children’s hospitals and other organisations when the need arises, he said.

‘‘I am so blessed and grateful to be alive and hope to make use of every day I have, with God’s help, for outreach and service to those in need both in Australia and throughout the world,’’ Dr Paul said.

‘‘I am slowly but surely recovering by God’s grace and the continuing love from people shown to me.

‘‘I personally want to thank the people of Deniliquin for their compassion and kindness in the form of meals, flowers, letter and cards. I cannot emphasise how much we sincerely appreciate this and continue to be overwhelmed by their love and affection to us.

‘‘I would also like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude towards the various communities which we are involved in – the Uniting Church family, St Michael’s School, Deniliquin Christian School, Finley Community Church and Deniliquin High School – which have been continually supporting us through prayer.

‘‘Above all I cherish the hugs I got from so many who were thankful that I returned alive without injury. My dedicated staff at Shiloh Medical Practice have been so empathetic to my family when I was away, and Deniliquin Hospital staff and my colleagues have been most supportive during this time.’’

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