IMB missionary tells of terror and hope in Paris
    November 19 2015 by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor

    Colby Corsaut sat sleepless in the early morning hours of Nov. 14, reflecting on the terror that broke out across Paris, France, the night before. He and a group of friends had walked through the middle of a global terror scene, and he now felt his call to serve the people of France was as sure as ever.
     
    Corsaut moved to France in early 2015 with his wife and children to serve as missionaries with the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention.

    IMB reported shortly after the Nov. 13 terrorist attacks that all personnel were safe, but safe isn’t the same as untroubled. So, in those moments of uncertainty immediately following the tragedy, Corsaut began to write about his experience, coping with the tragedy at hand on his personal blog.
     

    ‘Listen to the sound …’

    11-19-15_ParisAttack_WEB2.jpg

    Panic overtook crowds at Stade de France following blasts near the stadium.

    “It all started with soccer. I hate soccer. Slow and mildly entertaining sport for my tastes,” said Corsaut, “but [it’s] something my people here in France love so I want try to love it for their sakes.”
     
    Corsaut, who is an Oklahoma native, and nine friends attended the exhibition match between the French and German national soccer teams.
     
    “When we arrived at the stadium the energy around the match was electric,” he said. “We sang La Marseillaise, slurred some cheers in our broken French and prepared ourselves to be wooed by … the ‘beautiful game.’”
     
    Only a short time passed before the stadium’s energy shifted from electric to unnerving. After hearing a loud boom, Corsaut said to a friend, “I think a bomb just went off.”
     
    His friend assured him it was a theatrical cannon firing or something similar. Corsaut’s experience suggested otherwise.
     
    “When you go to football games at the University of Oklahoma they use cannons sometimes, but they are from visible places and at times that make sense,” he said. “This was not like that.”
     
    A few minutes later another blast rattled the ground underneath their feet.
     
    “There was a wave of anxious noise that rumbled through the stadium and people got noticeably nervous,” said Corsaut. The experience he describes was captured on video and circulated widely online. It records the sound of the explosions and the reactions by spectators.

     

    Islamic State strikes the ‘city of light’

    Chilling news reports began rolling into U.S. media outlets as a series of attacks rocked Paris, including the blasts near the stadium. The violent acts took place at more than a half-dozen locations across the city, killing at least 129 and injuring many more. Makeshift bombs and automatic weapons were the barbaric instruments of choice for the perpetrators who identified themselves as Islamic State supporters.
     
    Attackers had planned to carry out further mayhem at Stade de France that evening, but Associated Press reports that a combination of good security, quick thinking, modernized stadium infrastructure and apparent mistakes in the terror plans appeared to have averted a massacre.
     
    Corsaut and his group tried to calmly exit the stadium, but panic overtook the crowd.

     
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    Colby Corsaut and son

    “It could only be described as a wave of pure terror,” he said. “People were running for their lives, thousands of them, all at once. I have only seen such things in movies, but I can tell you that they do not feel the same as this. Absolute chaos.”
     
    The group decided to make their way toward the nearest train station, as did hordes of others.
     
    Corsaut admitted to being equally afraid of the unpredictable crowd as he was of the explosions. A potential stampede could be deadly, since he was limping from a knee injury. In addition, “The next killer could be the guy standing next to you.”
     
    The group made it onto a train, but just after the first stop everyone was ordered to exit the train and leave the station as quickly as possible.
     
    “Running broke out again and it felt like we were back to square one,” said Corsaut. “[W]e fought to keep our group in one piece. The worst thing for us was not so much that we were moving slow, but the potential of losing somebody in our group.”
     
    They were still miles from home, but the group began walking. “We decided that movement was key,” Corsaut said.
     
    “It was not until we were already in the middle of the city that we learned about how widespread the situation really was,” he explained. “We were essentially walking directly through the middle of it. The attacks were on all sides of us.”
     
    Corsaut said, after reflecting upon the events of the night, that God gave the group an unusual sense of peace as they trekked through the city amid the mayhem.

     

    Coping with tragedy

    “As I sit here, I have a deep sense of gratitude to the Lord who shepherded us along a path that would eventually lead us home. I limped home with the help of some friends. We passed police lines and blocked streets. The walking made us feel better. It was progress. One foot in front of the other was a helpful therapy as we passed the Seine and crossed the bridge into the south.”
     
    The group eventually made it to a place where someone was able to pick them up in a van, saving them extra miles of walking.
     
    The ride home offered a quiet moment to think about what they had just experienced.
     
    “Honestly, I do not think I have felt this weird, emotional cocktail of anger and heartbreak since I saw the planes hit the World Trade Center,” said Corsaut. “Everybody seems to remember where they were when they heard the news. It was like that.”
     
    Though tragedy is always difficult, this attack has only served to reinforce Corsaut’s calling to take the gospel to France.
     
    “Maybe it is for just such a time as this that [God] has brought my family to France. These are important days in the life of France and long ago the Lord worked to position us here,” he said.
     
    Corsaut concluded by asking for prayer: “… our deepest desire is for you to pray for us to be bold with the gospel. Pray for the hearts of the French people who have yet to know what life looks like because all they know is death.
     
    “It is no small understatement to say that [God] is the best thing we have to offer to France. It is also not wrong to say that it is worth any cost in order to introduce Him to them. … We would love for you to link arms with us as we mourn, pray, share and heal alongside our people.”
     
    The Corsaut family is supported through the IMB by Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering giving. Nov. 29-Dec. 6 is designated as a week of prayer for international missions. The goal for the 2015 offering is $175 million. Gifts can be submitted online at imb.org/giving or by mail: IMB Development, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230.
     

    Related Story:

    In Paris, 'death, pain & terror' met by prayer, hope

    11/19/2015 12:23:30 PM by Seth Brown, BR Content Editor | with 0 comments
    Filed under: IMB, ISIS, Paris




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