Twice in my life, I have been held at gunpoint. I pray you will never have to experience the feeling of holding your hands high in the air while looking down a gun barrel. I don’t recommend it.
The first time it happened was in Mexico. I was on staff at Tulsa, First, and we had collected clothing for people who lived on a garbage dump in Mexico. We shipped the clothes to Laredo, Texas, where I would rent a van, load up the clothes and take them across the border into Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. There, the church planters would distribute them.
Upon my arrival in Mexico, I encountered a problem: the rental company had no van. Since we had already made a deposit, we needed to use one of their vehicles. But all they could give me was a white Lincoln Continental Mark V. There is only one word in the English language to describe this car: behemoth. It took a country mile to turn the thing around, but it was all they had, so I took it.
When I picked up the clothes, I realized I would have to make multiple trips across the border. I stuffed clothes in the trunk, in the back window, on the back floorboard, on the back seat and finally on the passenger seat, leaving a space just large enough for me to sit. I must have looked more like a gangster than a Baptist minister. The only thing missing was the bling.
I drove across the border, went to the area labeled “Garbage Dump,” where the missionaries were waiting and dropped off the first load. I made my way back into the United States and picked up another load. On my fifth trip, as I pulled into the dump area with still more clothes, jeeps and federal soldiers surrounded the car, every man pointing a gun at me. Yelling in Spanish, they motioned me to get out. I slid out of the car with my hands in the air.
“Why are you making so many trips back and forth into Mexico?” they demanded.
Since my Spanish is poor, I started yelling the only thing I knew, “Yo soy Bautista Pastor, Yo soy Bautista Pastor” (“I am a Baptist pastor”).
“Prove it!” the man in charge said. All I could think of was the little New Testament in my pocket. Slowly, I reached into my shirt pocket, pulled out the tiny Bible and held it high in the air as I shouted, “La Biblia, Nuevo Testamento!” (“The Bible, New Testament”).
The leader took it from me and looked through it, saying, “Si, la Biblia,” as he passed it around the circle. One by one, the soldiers thumbed through the New Testament and lowered their rifles until all were pointed at the ground. As quickly as the soldiers came, they left. To this day, I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t had my New Testament along.
The second time I was held at gunpoint, I was attending the Criswell Center for Biblical Studies. I had to park about a half a mile away from the school. One day, as a friend and I were returning to the parking lot, we ran into an unusually-dressed young man. As we passed him, I felt something cold and hard shoved into the small of my back. I started to look back, and the young man said, “Give me all your money, or I’ll blow your brains out.”
I figured he wasn’t too intelligent if he thought my brains were in the small of my back. I opened my wallet, and gave him all the money I had. My friend did the same. The young man started shaking and yelling, “Where’s the rest of the money?” I calmly told him that my friend and I attended Bible college and were living by faith. “We’ve only got three dollars between us,” I said, “but you’re welcome to it.”
“You two are preachers?”
He handed us back our money and walked away. Later, when they caught him, we had to help identify him. He had robbed five other people that morning. Out of the five, my friend and I had the most money, and he had given it all back.
When you follow God, He provides supernatural protection. I know what dangerous is, and it isn’t looking down the barrel of a rifle. Disobeying God is far more dangerous, with many more far-reaching consequences.
We need to teach our children that they are safer in the lion’s den or the fiery furnace with God than living outside of His will. That way, they will trust in Him … even if they find themselves looking down the barrel of a gun.