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Missionaires living in Brussels are OK

Posted at 6:32 PM, Mar 22, 2016

For the last two and a half years, Tom Benigas and his wife Phyllis of Lakeland, have been doing God's work in Brussels, Belgium -- missionaries, spreading the gospel.

But today, their world came to a screeching halt.

"There is a lot of tension right now," Tom said via Skype. "There's a lot of concern. A lot of people say they're praying for us and we deeply appreciate that very much."

The local couple was not in harms way when three explosions killed at least 30 people in Brussels.

But some of their friends -- also missionaries -- narrowly escaped the airport.

"We have another friend, Jeff, who was actually in the airport when the explosions happened. He just dropped his bags and just kind of ran for cover."

Travel experts say Brussels is a popular spot for some tourists, especially people from Florida. You can get a similar experience to Paris or London at about half the airfare.

"It's a huge gateway to the rest of Europe. Paris is only an hour and a half away by train. London, two hours. Amsterdam, an hour and 45 minutes," said Shane Mahoney, Owner of Lugos Travel of Lakeland.

Mahoney was just in Brussels two weeks ago.

The images he saw form the airport this morning hit too close to home.

"As a matter of fact, I was at the Starbucks that the second bomb hit really just a couple weeks ago," he said.

Today he spent the morning reaching out to colleagues to make sure they are ok and taking calls from nervous local clients about to head to the spot of so much carnage.

"The fear is justified today. The fear is justified tomorrow and probably next week. But we're talking about large cities with millions of people and large security forces," he said.

Although the city is in lockdown mode right now, Benigas told ABC Action News he still feels safe living there.

He has no plans to alter his mission.

"In many ways, I've told a lot of friends that we're as safe here as we are anywhere in the west. I feel more fear in some parts of Florida than I do here," he said.