In 2017, Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan were living in Washington, D.C. wondering if their lives were slipping away without fulfillment. So, the young and idealistic Americans decided to quit their jobs, jump on their bikes, and go see the world.
But it can be tough out there.
Jay, an employee of the U.S. Department of Housing, kept an online blog and in June of 2017 he wrote, “I’ve grown tired of spending the best hours of my day in front of a glowing rectangle, of coloring the best years of my life in swaths of grey and beige. I’ve missed too many sunsets while my back was turned. Too many thunderstorms went unwatched, too many gentle breezes unnoticed.” He was able to convince his girlfriend, Lauren Geoghegan, to leave her job at Georgetown University and accompany him on his search-for-purpose journey around the world.
For more than a year, they pedaled across some of the most gorgeous landscapes Earth has to offer. From Capetown, South Africa they ventured into Namibia, then Botswana, and Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Egypt, and Morocco. While in Morocco, Austin continued his writing:
You watch the news and you read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place. People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil. People are axe murderers and monsters and worse. I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented to deal with the complexities of fellow humans holding values and beliefs and perspectives different than our own—it’s easier to dismiss an opinion as abhorrent than strive to understand it.
Their journey took them from Spain to France and then eastward through Italy, Croatia, Montengro, Kosovo, Turkey, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and finally Tajikistan. By this time, the Americans had been joined by two other cyclists from Europe. On July 29, 2018, the four bikers approached the Afghanistan border and came near territory that was known to contain ISIS terrorists. This was the 369th day of their trip, and sadly, would also be their last.
A grainy cellphone video uploaded to the Internet shows a car passing them, doing a quick U-turn, and then ramming into them and running over them. To make sure the cyclists were dead, five men then sprang from the car and stabbed them. Two days later, representatives of the terrorist organization released a video of the same five men sitting in front of the ISIS flag claiming responsibility for the multiple murders and vowing to kill any other “disbelievers.”
Jay Austin bet his life that “evil is a make-believe concept” and lost. If he would have read the Apostle Paul’s words from Galatians 1:3-5, Austin would not only have been warned about the reality of evil, but how it’s overcome, as well.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever.
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(Resource cataloged by David R Smith)