The Lesson in the Gunfire
In the darkness, bullets ricocheted off buildings. As if in response, more shots were fired in quick bursts. This sequence repeated itself. One or two gun shots were followed by rapidly returned fire. Our driver stopped the car. The four of us listened to determine where the shots originated. Suddenly a man appeared from the shadows running toward our vehicle. I could clearly see the silhouette of a rifle in his hand.
“Lie down on the floor” our driver shouted, “Don’t get up!” I hesitated, wanting to get out and run for cover. The driver snapped at me, “Get down!” I ducked down in the seat and joined my friend who had obeyed immediately.
Frustrated, I realized that once again our safety was compromised. It amazed me how often a similar scenario repeated itself during our trips to Africa. As short term missionaries, we only went to safe places. Yet on every trip, we had been confronted by danger, illness or fear. Once a lion targeted me for dinner. He would have succeeded except for slow but alert guards and fervent prayer. Another time we were on a flight forbidden to land on any soil in the world due to a terrorist threat. There was always a story. I was getting weary of repeated crises on these trips. Tonight, again, we were facing grave danger in the darkness on this African street.
“We shouldn’t be here,” I whispered to my friend. Far more spiritual than I, she was praying. I reflected on the series of events leading to this situation which began with a phone call that evening.
“A friend with a radio show reaching East Africa wants to know if you would be willing to speak on his program tonight,” our old friend said. “The potential audience is in the millions.”
Those are enticing words to a missionary. The thought of reaching that many people with the love of Jesus was enough to quell any reservations. We would be with old friends, two brothers who had been our guides on several trips. What could possibly go wrong?
Both of us responded excitedly, “Yes, of course!”
He added, “The program starts at 11, very late to be out in the city.” After a moment’s hesitation, we affirmed our willingness to go with them. Once the decision was made, we got on our knees to pray.
“God, please give us the right words to speak to listening hearts. Help us make a difference in lives so they are encouraged to follow you. Give us the boldness to speak your words. We give the entire experience to you and ask you to orchestrate it for your glory. We thank you in Jesus’ name.”
That prayer echoed in my mind as I huddled on the floor of the back seat, trying to hear over the deafening sound of my own heartbeat. The gunman continued toward our car. We heard more rapid footsteps behind him and repeated gun shots. According to our friends, these were the local police pursuing the first man. They each pointed and shot in our direction.
Our driver shouted, “We need to get out of here!” He put the car in reverse and sped backward down the darkened road. We were tossed around in the back seat for several minutes. Suddenly we stopped.
“Get out of the car,” someone barked. We had no idea what would happen next. To our immense delight, we were at the radio station, audibly thanking God for delivering us. We crawled out of the back seat, straightened our clothing, looked at each other with wide eyes and laughed
Clearly fear hadn’t overcome us and danger hadn’t diminished our fervor. The whole experience gave us a new boldness to share God’s love and protection. The women talking that night were different from the women who prayed a few hours earlier. God indeed orchestrated every minute of that evening to bring about a clear message. After the broadcast, we began taking calls from people who wanted to know more about this God who protects and saves.
We never heard what became of the men involved in the shooting, but we prayed for them. That evening reminded me that trials would follow me as I followed God. Who am I to resent repeated hardships? It is precisely those hardships that make me strong and courageous. My mandate is to share the Word and share the victories with those God places in my path.
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