Monday, September 24, 2012

Something's Not Right

It was a comfortable night in João Pessoa.  As I left the church building after teaching a lesson on personal finance, nothing was amiss.  After giving someone a ride home, I was off to my own home.  I remember thinking as I pulled away from her house: I am going on the paved road tonight (the road I usually go on is cobblestone, and I bounce around a lot because of the holes and the unevenness of the cobblestones).
As I pull up to the stop sign I see a man standing there by himself, and I think to myself, "That is strange, what is he doing?" (I'll tell you what he was doing later on)  I make a left turn, and about 100 yards ahead there are three other guys standing at the edge of a favela.  Again, I thought to myself, "Hum, that is strange, I wonder what they are doing."  (It is not strange for people to be out in the streets but for them to just be standing and not talking or walking somewhere is strange.)  Well,  I knew something was wrong, but I could not think what it was.

I pull up to the stop sign where the three guys were and I did not stop but was going very slow because I knew something was not right.  As I make the right turn all three run up on the car, one of them holding a gun on me and he tells me to stop the car.  (The things that go through your mind are very strange at times and I had strange things going through my mind.)  I almost did not stop the car because I thought to myself, "This is a joke, where do I know these guys from?"  Then reason came back to me, and I stopped.  As soon as I stopped they took my watch off of my arm and started to pull me out of the car.  I told them to wait, calm down, and let me take my seatbelt off.  I stepped out of the car, and they asked for my wallet and cell phone.  I gave them both and stood there a little while longer.  They told me to get back in the car so I sat down, with one leg in the car and one leg outside the car.  I put my hand on the door to close it, and one of them saw my wedding band.  He attempted to take it off and was unable so he told me to take it off.  I saw how nervous they were and figured they would run off.  So I started twisting my ring but not taking it off, when he saw that I was taking my time he called the guy with the gun back over to the car.  When I heard him do that I took it off and handed it to him.  While that was going on another one of the guys on the other side of the car was telling me to take the stereo out of the car.  I told him I don't how to take it out.  He told me to take the face off of the stereo so I gave it to him.  They were about to let me drive off when the guy who took my wallet came back and kicked me in the face twice while asking me where the money was.  (I did not have any money in my wallet, my cell phone was the cheapest one out there and I had it for almost two years)  Like I said before, crazy things go through your mind when things are happening.  I am sure many other things went through my mind, but I remember thinking after the first kick, "What a soft sandal!" and then comparing his second kick to my days as a teenager and boxing with my friends and thinking, "This doesn't hurt at all," strange but true thoughts from someone being robbed at gunpoint.

I did not react.  I gave them everything they asked for except my glasses and they let me go without doing much bodily harm.  My eyesight is not very good.  My glasses prescription is 9.5 in my right eye and 8.5 in my left eye or something like that.  One of them took my glasses off and I said "No, give me my glasses".  He immediately gave them back to me.  It would have been a dangerous ride home without them.  As I drove away slowly, the guy with the gun came back out into the street and shot his gun out ahead of the car.  I drove straight to the police station and filed a report.  They were not caught and I don't expect them to be.

I reflected on what happened and thought, if I had reacted in some way not counting the fact that I probably would be shot but I would not have honored God's name.  By doing nothing, I feel like I could face the guys and tell them about Christ without shame for not living what I preach.  I am not trying to say that I did nothing because I have mastered the art of turning the other cheek.  I see that I am at fault, often, in my own home with my wife and children, not physically but verbally or emotionally.  God gave me calmness and I am grateful for His protection.  If I had reacted they would have become more aggressive and violent.  I gave them no reason to do so.  I am now praying that God may save them from this sad life of hatred and fear. 
         Oh yeah, that guy on the corner that I told you about, he was their look out.  I knew something was not right. 

P.S.  I did not get a picture of them so I am sending one of my family.

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