Last week we had something new happen. We were robbed at gunpoint. Full story below.
I always wondered how I would react if I were ever held at gunpoint. Would I panic? Would I try to be the hero and karate style kick the gun out of his hands? Last week I got to find out exactly what I would do.
Two weeks ago we took a leap of faith, some red heart shaped balloons and The Father’s Love Letter out to the streets to pray for the women and men who work in prostitution not knowing how we would be received.
The initial response was so much better than we anticipated. We were ready for rejection, instead we found openness and a need.
The most common prayer request is protection, and for their children.
Last Wednesday, Phil and I headed out to pray while the kids were in school . As we headed down a laneway towards the street the women work on we saw a girl we hadn’t seen since the first day. She had been in tears reading the Father’s Love Letter that we had been giving to all the women.
Since then, while I was praying for all of them, God gave me a vision, specifically for her, so I was excited to see her and she seemed happy to see us as well.
I told her that I had been hoping to see her because I felt like God had something he wanted to say to her. She allowed me to explain.
I started to explain the scene that was painted in my head and part way through she interrupted me and said, ‘This is speaking directly into a situation in my life right now.’ She explained her situation and it did fit perfectly with what I had seen. She said she had prayed that morning that God would give her a sign, show her the way.
The next part of the scene was Jesus freeing her from bondage and showing her a new path.
We were both covered in goosebumps. I told her that I also felt like I was supposed to pray over her feet, if that wasn’t too strange, would she allow me to do that right here in the street? She said, ‘Yes, please!’. So I knelt down on the rocky sidewalk, and laid my hands on her feet and prayed that she would have the courage to follow the path Jesus has for her.
After I prayed, as we walked together she said, ‘You know, I had money in my hand ready to buy a piece of land, I know now that I shouldn’t, I believe God sent you’.
We walked together to the place under the tree where her and some other girls usually wait for clients out of the sun. There was a girl there we hadn’t met yet and as I opened my mouth to introduce us, our new friend did it for me. She excitedly explained who we were and that I had just given her a revelation that spoke right into a situation in her life.
That morning while we prayed at home before leaving, I had also felt like one of the girls was suffering from stomach pain, possibly gastritis. So I asked if that was anyone of these girls.
Guess who put up her hand? She has been doing tests and was waiting to do an endoscopy to see if she has gastritis. I prayed again for her, this time for physical healing.
We left the group under the tree on a huge high! We were so excited see what God is already doing in such a short time. We approached the second group and again they introduced us to a girl who hadn’t met us before. The first woman we met was there, she has not let us pray for her yet, ‘because she is Catholic and we are Christians’ (her words not mine). This same woman said she thought she saw some guys who were looking to steal things, and everyone asked if I had a cell phone in my bag. I responded that the only thing I had was the love letters we had been giving out and if someone did want to rob us they were welcome to them.
A minute or so later I started to pray for one of the women when two motorcycles approached us. I wasn’t looking at the road and honestly, people pass and slow down or stop often-it’s the nature of what is going on there. But one of them shouted, ‘Give me your cell phones!’ I looked over and saw that one of them was pointing a gun at us.
He pointed at my bag and told me to give it to him, I obeyed and said a prayer in my head that he would read the letters. Then the one who was driving the motorcycle looked at Phil who had his hands up and was trying to look as non-threatening as possible so as to not escalate the situation.
‘Wallet! He has a wallet!’ he shouted.
Phil was also carrying a heavy backpack full of water bottles making it awkward for him to reach for his wallet, so I reached back and handed it to the guy with the gun who, quite honestly, looked terrified.
After that they drove off and I said another silent prayer that somehow Phil’s wallet would find it’s way back to us. (Make sure you read all the way to the end of this story)
So here’s the crazy thing. During that whole thing Phil and I both felt an incredible, doesn’t-make-sense-when-you-have-a-gun-pointed-at-you, sense of peace.
After they drove off the women were understandably shaken up and we all headed for the main road in case they decided to try again. A man lent us his cell phone and one of the girls called the police.
Before leaving to file a report at the police station about Phil’s wallet we asked if we could pray for the girls, and they let us, all of them, even the one who previously wouldn’t let us.
Here’s the thing, every city has those streets you shouldn’t walk down, we are going to the places. We know this is a risk, and normally we don’t take anything of value, but that day Phil forgot to put his wallet in the car. But if he hadn’t had his wallet they may have searched him and found his phone or worse the keys to our car.
We weren’t hurt, and either were any of the women and we are so grateful for that.
We also know that what we are doing is rattling the enemy, we are trying to shine a light in the darkness, and the darkness doesn’t want to flee that easily.
Ours is not a battle of flesh and blood…..
We have been back since this incident and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little more aware, Phil spend most of his time paying attention to the cars and bikes passing while I did the chatting and praying.
While we were there, one of the girls saw us and said, ‘Is it true? You guys were robbed?’
Word is spreading amongst them. They will now know too, that we came back.
They face these risks every day because they are doing the kind of ‘work’ that no one should have to do. And although it may be seen to some as a ‘choice’ I am willing to bet that not one of them dreamed of this life when they were a little girl. Do some research, you will find out.
UPDATE: Monday morning we planned to go to the Federal Police to begin the process to replace Phil’s Brazilian Permanent Residence card. But, when I woke up I felt like we weren’t supposed to go, that we were supposed to wait until Wednesday. Specifically, Wednesday.
Tuesday evening someone we don’t know tried to friend Phil on facebook. Sometimes that happens but this guy is from João Pessoa and we don’t have any friends in common. Then he messaged Phil saying something about documents he found that he thinks could be Phil’s.
I wrote back to him and we waited. Later my phone rang and it was the kids school calling, asking if my husband had lost some documents recently.
‘Yes, we were robbed last week’, I responded.
‘Someone found your daughters card from school and called. They gave me their number.’
I jotted the phone number down and called it.
As it turns out, this guy was driving down the highway and stopped at the side to wait for a friend, he happened to look in the grass and saw Phil’s documents lying there.
‘I have no idea why I stopped at that particular location, it must have been God’, he said.
We arranged to meet him the following morning which was…….
Coincidence? I think not.
All of Phil’s ID was there, including the credit card we had cancelled but that’s ok because the new one arrived, that same day!
Someone asked this week, ‘So, although this ministry is clearly something God is calling you guys into, how do you see this planting a church?’
About 15 years ago, under a tree in Altamira, Rick Bergen met with a few guys every week to pray and read the Bible. All of them were a mess, their marriages were breaking up, they were drinking heavily, sometimes even coming to the study drunk.
Most of those men are now pastors or leaders. Their marriages and lives have been restored.
All any of us can do is look to see where the Father is working and join Him. We spent months praying about whether or not to step into this ministry, it wouldn’t leave us. The way we have seen these women responding tells us that the Father was already there, working, we’re just joining Him.
Built into the Vineyard’s DNA is going to the dark places, looking for the lost and the broken and showing them the unconditional love of the Father.
Beyond being what we do, it’s who we are.
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is upon me, for the LORD has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed. Isaiah 61:1