January 14, 2001
I was 19 years old, almost 20. We were moving from one tribe to another, and my dad was in the bush building our house in the new village. My mom, my sister, and I were staying in town at a guest house for a couple of weeks until our house was finished in the bush. It was a Sunday. Dad had our only vehicle, and he was still out in the village preaching that Sunday. So, not having transportation to go to church, we had to stay in the guest house that Sunday. Three white women walking to church in Mt. Hagen town was out of the question! The guest house cleared out as everyone else went to church. The only person there besides us was the young man who worked at the front desk. We were in an upstairs apartment in the building.
My mom sent me downstairs to dump our trash in the outside trash bin. The trash bin was in the fenced in back yard, so we figured all would be fine. I went down the stairs with the trash, and was just about to go out the back door when a man suddenly grabbed me by the arm. He spun me around to face another man (I am trembling even now as I type this) two feet away, holding a gun at my chest. The man holding my arm leaned close and whispered in my ear in English, “Don’t try anything or I’ll blow you away.” At first, I was very confused as they pulled me into the lobby and shut the door. Now I was cut off from my family, and they had no idea what was going on. Then it hit me—these men were robbing the guest house, and I had just walked in on an armed robbery! The one holding my arm made it very plain to me that he had a knife in his other hand under his jacket. Another one had a stocking cap pulled low over his face with eye-holes cut out. I looked around frantically for the desk clerk, and saw that they had his hands and feet tied up and that he was lying under the desk. I didn't know if he was dead or alive. Talk about praying a Nehemiah prayer over and over again! My mind was frozen at that moment, and all I could think to pray was, “Oh, God, please help me, protect me!” They left me standing there for a few minutes in the middle of the lobby. I was trembling like a leaf. THEN it happened. A peace that I cannot explain washed over me as I realized that I was not alone. God Almighty was right beside me, and He could see everything that was happening! No, it did not take away all of my fear, but somehow it made it alright because I knew that God was in total control of the situation. I can remember actually smiling in the midst of that storm. And my heart filled with pity as I watched these three men rushing around the lobby trying to get their hands on as much as they could carry away. They thought that money and things were most important, but I had God on my side!
The man with the knife came back over, led me to a couch, and told me to sit. He sat down right in front of me, very close, and started asking me questions, “Where are you from? Australia, New Zealand?—all this still in English. I answered him in his language. Please understand, my voice was a croaking whisper because I could barely get any words out! But I told him that my family and I were missionaries from America, and that we went there to tell him and his people how to go to Heaven. I think the fact that I could speak his language fluently gained me some respect. I asked him if he was saved. The words for "to be saved" in Pidgin are "tanim bel" which literally means "to repent." He hung his head, and mumbled that he used to go to church but not anymore. To my utter amazement, the tables were turning! How could this man who had just threatened to blow me away be hanging his head as if in shame? Could it be conviction? It must have been because he suddenly jumped up and ordered me to stay put. I half came out of my chair imploring him to think about it now and not die and go to Hell. But he didn’t want to think about it anymore. Now please understand, any words coming out of my mouth had to be the from the Holy Spirit because I could not even think straight, let alone witness! Please see how very weak I was but how strong He is. I could barely get words past my terrified throat, and I was scared to death of what they might do to me. Would they rape me right here? Would they kidnap me and take me to their village and then . . .?” There are some things worse than death. You know what I mean.
Finally, after what seemed like eons of time (but probably only about 15 minutes), he came back over to me again. As he led me back to the door I came in at, he asked me my name. Since it looked like freedom was in sight, and I didn’t want to make him mad at this point, I told him my name was Jessica. He told me his name was Joe. I have no idea if that was his real name or not, but I promised him that I would be praying for him. Then he tried to hug me. I put my hands up in front of my face, and said, “Please don’t do that.” Then he let me go, telling me to go back to my family and not come back down until they were gone. I was free! As I climbed those stairs on wobbly legs, it hit me what I had just been through, and what could have happened and didn’t. It was nothing but amazing grace and God’s marvelous protection.
Unfortunately, that was not the end of the story. The devil plagued me with fear for eight months after that. I was scared of every man I didn’t know. Every time I heard a knock at the door, I would go stiff from fright. Aftershock, I guess. The devil took every fear I had and magnified it until fear literally controlled me. I even got to the point of doubting God and His love for me. Finally, one night I couldn’t take it any longer. I knelt beside my bed, prayed for help, and through gritted teeth reminded the devil that I was God’s child, that Jesus had already defeated him at Calvary, and that He shed His Blood for me because He loved me. I can’t explain how, but from that moment on, the fear left—all of it. It was gone, and I was once again free. I think too often we as Christians do not realize the power in the Blood of Christ and the power in that Name—Jesus. Satan hates and fears Jesus Christ and His Blood because he knows he is already defeated by Him. "The name of the LORD is a strong tower: the righteous runneth into it, and is safe." Proverbs 18:10