Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Armed Robberies: “Struck down but not Destroyed” 2 Cor. 4:9

Wednesday night at about 11:00 pm, three armed men, ripped the “security” grill out of our cement wall in front of our front door, busted through more locks, and broke into our house in a matter of seconds. Lorena had gone to open the door after hearing the dogs barking, only to be greeted by a gun to her face and two raised machetes. She quickly closed the door and locked it, but before she reached the next room, they were already in. In the living room they confronted Matthew and Nate. Thinking Matthew was the head of the household, (he is taller than me now), they hit him in the side of the head with the flat side of a machete and pointed a gun in his face. “Where is the money?” they demanded in perfect English. When he did not respond immediately, they stuck a gun in Nate’s chest and asked him again, “Where is the money?” He was about to tell them he had 20 mets in his room (about 80 cents) when I came rushing into the room. Instructed by the embassy to always be agreeable and pleasant with robbers, I immediately told them with a smile, “We have lots of money! Come with me!” (Lorena didn’t see that memo! But she felt led by the Holy Spirit to call on Jesus.) I took one of the men with a machete to the top drawer of our dresser where I have a small safe. We had about $1,400.00 in Mozambican and Malawian currency, which I quickly gave it to them. I also gave them any electrical item I could find – including a solar Bible!

Lorena was on the other side of the room with the tallest man holding a machete over his head. Lorena felt led to rebuke them all in Portuguese, “Get out in Jesus name!” Every time she shouted, the man would take a slight step backwards. I was so proud of the way she fearlessly told them to get out in Jesus name. And I think it really helped - it certainly confused them. At the other end of the room, I was trying to smile and tell the second bandito, “Take anything you want!” I think they were as freaked out as we were. Caleb was smart enough to hide in the bathroom this whole time. He never saw them, and they never saw him.

The men were able to take four computers (used for all our bible recordings, bible school courses, curriculum development, homeschooling, etc.) and all our electrical items in the house. It all happened within minutes. When they got to the front door, the man with the gun noticed there were no US dollars. He came back inside, slid back the slide on the gun, put it in my chest and said in Portuguese, “Where are the US dollars!?” I told him we did not have any US dollars. He thought for a LONG three seconds and then left. One of the greatest moments of my life was when these men left the house!

We then noticed that Caleb was nowhere in sight! Lorena yelled out, “Where is Caleb?” We heard in a very faint voice, “I am over here.” Relief! We were all safe.

After waiting a long ten minutes, I ventured outside. I called for our night guard and heard a groan about 40 feet from our house. He was beaten badly and unable to move. Our car engine had blown two days earlier on our way home from ministering in Pemba (another long story) so we did not have a car. I thought of using the motorcycle to go and contact the police, but I did not want to leave the family. Our cell phones where stolen. Matthew had one but it had no credit. I went out to the highway in front of our house and waited to flag down a car – after 10 minutes with no traffic I went back to use the motorcycle, I really wanted to get our guard, Baptista to the hospital. Silly me I didn’t even think that it would have been stolen! Finally a car stopped and I asked them to please go back into town and contact the police to come and help us. Several minutes later the same car returned with two policemen.

With the help of the police we were able to flag down a little truck and I gave him the last of our money that was in my pocket to help take Baptista to the hospital. Matthew, who was so brave through the whole thing, helped a policeman carry Baptista on a bench to the little truck. The police left at about 2:00 am.

On Thursday we were able to hire an armed guard from a local security service. He comes at five at night and leaves at six in the morning. With the guard and our door boarded up and barricaded, we slept at our house that night.

Friday morning we were able to fly out of Mocuba and go to the Iris Ministries Center in Pemba for some recovery time. We would have driven out on Thursday but we do not have a working vehicle. Thank you so much to Rolland and Heidi Baker who provided the flight with the help of Mission Aviation Fellowship!

Banditos Return

We are so thankful we were able to fly out, especially since the banditos were not finished. They came back to steal and destroy! On Sunday night they returned. The security service sent two guards but no gun! The bandits overpowered the guards, bound them, and beat them up. Our co-worker Pastor Mario reports, “Whatever they did not steal, they destroyed.”
So here we are in Pemba without a car, with a house which we just built but can’t live in, and just the few belongings we could take with us on the plane. But we are not discouraged from the work that God has called us to. Things are going really well in Zambezia - it is only reasonable that we should expect warfare. The Apostle Paul wrote, (from an expanded translation) “Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times (2 Co 4:1).”

Next Step?

We know we need to find a more secure place of operation in order to train Mozambican Pastors. We don't feel safe going back to our house - especially the kids. A good option is an already existing base in the city of Dondo. There is available housing, and most of the missionaries there have left. This city is central to three provinces, whose pastors are all asking for teaching and training. We had already been thinking about how to help these other provinces - Sofala, Manica, and Zambezia. Basing in Dondo would make it very feasible. A bigger city, Beira, is also nearby with an airport and needed supplies. Please pray with us as we seek God on our next move.

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