No Regrets: Caught in the Crossfire of an African Civil War
By Julie Anna Vaugh & Ken Vaughn
As Ken and Julie Vaughan set out to plant a family, they wanted to be where life doesn’t come clean, pre-packaged, or easy. They chose a small town in Northern California. God chose Africa. In 1986, Ken and Julie Vaughan were living the American dream: good education, interesting career, nice home and healthy, bright children. When God called them to teach in Africa, they turned their backs on financial and physical security to accept the challenge of living in a third world country.
Through a series of God-initiated events, the Vaughans found themselves living in Cote d’Ivoire, teaching at an international boarding school and serving the families of missionaries by nurturing their children. As part of a team of teachers and staff with World Venture, they were responsible for teaching and nurturing students who came to International Christian Academy in Bouake, Cote d’Ivoire from around the world. In 1997, Ken faced a bout with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. After completing treatment, Ken and Julie returned to Africa to resume the life they loved. Through each of the challenges, they learned to trust God with the smallest details of their lives.
ABC News called Cote d’Ivoire “an oasis of stability in a region torn by some of the continent’s most brutal wars.” In 2002, Cote d’Ivoire was torn by violence between government and rebel forces. International Christian Academy was caught between enemy lines. The fighting came to the edge of the ICA campus and in time, bullets and rocket-propelled grenades would fly overhead as teachers and students huddled behind tables, praying that God would deliver them to safety.
As the quiet, peace-loving nation splintered into violence, the staff of International Christian Academy had to face some unsettling questions. How do you develop a theology of risk? What do you do when 96 children are huddled under desks and machine gun fire rips the air? How do you respond to suffering and loss in a world where there are no safety nets and nothing is guaranteed?
Deliverance first came with the French Special Forces, working with the United States Special Forces. Students and staff were safely evacuated from the country. A year later, the school tried to re-open but fighting resume and once again ICA was caught between enemy lines.
The Vaughan’s story resonates with hope, compassion, and fearless resolve. When the unthinkable happens, God is good. When you obey His calling, there are no regrets.