The following story is full of danger, suspense and even has a small twist for an ending. Best part of all...it is all true....
It was Thursday night here in Perth, Australia. The nights have been rainy, being that it's winter and that season is synonymous with the rainy season, this night was just the same. Stacy and I and our house mates Josh and Sarah had been feeling more run down this week so we decided that we would all go to bed early. We hit our beds around 9:30 and were excited to get the extra rest. Everyone fell fast asleep, except for me. For whatever reason I could not sleep. 10:30 rolled around and I roll over tying to get more comfortable. 11:30 crept up and still nothing. At this point I was getting frustrated because the extra sleep I was hoping for wasted away with tossing and turning. About 45 hands of solitaire on my iPad later and it was 12:00am. I decided to put my gadget down and try again. Still laying in bed, the dark bringing no somber slumber, but rather scattered thoughts keeping me awake. Then the dark brought something else, something very unexpected, a loud boom came from what sounded like outside our house. I sat up in the dark and listened. You know how it is when you hear a random sound in the middle of the night and you sit and listen waiting to hear a follow up noise while you're dreaming up the worst scenarios in your head..yeah this was that. After sitting for a minute not hearing any more noises I laid my head back down on my pillow next to a resting and peaceful Stacy. Frustrated, I envied her sleep. My frustration was abruptly interrupted as I heard the handle to our bed room door start to lightly jiggle. I shot my head back up and looked. My eyes pierced toward the door, as it continued to rattle up and down. My eyes were compromised by the dark and the fact that I'm almost legally blind without my contacts playing as my surrogate sight. I stared at the door not expecting to see much but to at least make out what I could. I could tell that the door was slowly beginning to open. Only a crack at first but then it made its way wide enough that I could see the amber glow coming from the street light that shines through our big bathroom window across the hall. I saw a shadow of a figure and couldn't tell if it was coming from an object outside or from a person inside our home, but I was positive that our bedroom door was now open and I wasn't sure why. I hollered, "hello?" Thinking perhaps it was Josh or Sarah also unable to sleep, but there was no response. "Who's there?" I yelled more assertively. I heard a rustling noise so I yelled again even more anxious and assertive than before, "WHO'S THERE?" With this yell Stacy lifted off the bed in a rather crude awaking from her peaceful sleep. Before she could ask what I was shouting about I asked her to look at the door and tell me if there was someone there. I figured she could be my eyes and hopefully mine weren't play tricks on me. She said the door was open but she didn't see anyone. We sat and listened for a second and heard some rustling. So I slapped my contacts into my eyes threw on some basketball shorts and made my way into the dark hallway, flipping on any switch that I could along the way. Standing in the hallway I looked around, no one was out there. I walked into the bathroom, nothing. I then made my way towards the front door where there are two empty rooms on either side of the hall, after exploring them I found no one. So I turned and made my way back down the hall to the living room/kitchen. The living room seemed undisturbed but as I rounded the wall to the kitchen I saw our back door sitting wide open. My stomach dropped, I turned to Stacy and asked her to wait in our bedroom while I check around. I grabbed my flashlight and looked around the back porch, returning inside I shut and locked the back door and checked every possible area inside even the unconventional ones like cabinets and closets. Of course no one would be hiding in the cabinet under the kitchen sink...but you watch enough horror movies, you'll make sure to check e-v-e-r-y-where. Once the house looked secured I jumped to the next phase in a situation like this and that's finding a logical explanation to what happened. I immediately remembered that Sarah had cut Josh's hair that night and so she probably left the backdoor slightly cracked on accident after sweeping out his hair. So later the wind just blew it open and made its way to our bedroom door and naturally blew it open as well. The rest was just tricks my mind played on me in the fear-invoking dark. So Stacy and I decided to check on Josh and Sarah and make sure they were okay before trying to laugh off the jitters and try to go back to sleep. I knocked on their door and opened it sorry to wake them. I told them what had happened and said, "I guess you didn't shut the door all the way when you cut Josh's hair." Which she quickly responded, "we never opened that door tonight." My stomach dropped again just as it did when I first saw the door open.
"Are you sure?"
"Yeah, it was shut and locked when we came to bed."
With a thought Stacy then said,
"we should check the car."
"Now that you say that, I don't recall seeing the keys on the counter." I replied thinking back to the place we typically leave our car keys. We zoomed into the kitchen to find the house keys sitting there but not the car keys. We then zoomed back the other way towards the front door to look out the window towards our driveway...
"Our car has been stolen!"
We both shouted simultaneously back to Josh and Sarah who were now tossing on sweat pants and hoodies as they worked their way out of their bedroom.
They came to the window with their jaws dropped and then worked their way back to the kitchen to look around. It was there Sarah discovered that her purse was also missing, inside was her wallet (with ID, cash and cards) and her brand new camera they had bought a week before. Her head dropped as she told us.
The four of us stood in the hall as a sense of helplessness overcame us. We were in Western Australia with American phones and no wifi. We were told whether we had service or not if there was an emergency that we just had to dial triple 0 to connect with emergency services. We tried that...it didn't work. It was almost 1 in the morning as I went to our neighbors house where I was met by an aboriginal woman on her front lawn. I asked her if she had a phone that I could use. She said yes and started making her way into her house. As she did two large white men, who looked like they were on drugs, came walking out and stared me down. She then immediately turned back around and asked,
"What do you need it for?"
"Well, my car was just stolen out of my driveway and I need to call the police and hav--"
"Oh, I don't have a phone, you can not call." She said interrupting me.
"I have no phone you cannot call."
Not looking to start any trouble I thanked her anyways and walked away swiftly. Feeling a total sense of defeat, no car, no phone/wifi, no help. I began to pray as I walked back,
"Lord, we need a break, please help us."
When I made it back to the house, to my surprise, Sarah was on the phone with the police. Stacy saw me coming up and said they tried 911 and it went through. Apparently because we had American phones we still have to dial 911 and it redirects to 000.
I was so thankful they gave that number a try.
Later the police arrived and took our report. They then gave Josh and Sarah a ride to the YWAM base so they could cancel all her cards and connect with leadership about the situation.
YWAM responded to the situation so well. Arie (one of our more senior leaders in YWAM) came over to the house, now about 3am, looked around the house and prayed over us and our home. The next day they sent over a locksmith who sured up our doors with new locks that bolt into the ground and ceiling. I was impressed at how quickly and seriously they took this situation and I really appreciated their response.
Later I talked to forensics as they walked through our house. The woman explained that it looked to be forced entry but she couldn't do much until they found the car, which she was quite positive they would. She said there aren't many chop shops around, and the ones that are weren't looking for our kind of car, a little low for their standards I guess...
She also said, "Don't worry, they probably won't be back. Australians are very non-confrontational even our thieves aren't looking for trouble. As soon as you yelled at the door they had nervously ran away to avoid any confrontation." She said all this laughing.
I relied, "Well I'm a Texan and we're as confrontational as they come. He's lucky he wasn't in my home town because if he tried this there he would have been shot on the spot." I laughed. (#Merica #AffirmedStereotypes) She nervously laughed and continued to explain that when they find the car she will have better luck finding the person responsible.
Two days later a police officer knocked on our door.
"We found your car."
We were so excited at his news.
He continued to explain, "It was involved in a high speed police chase. Good news is, we have the man in custody...Bad news is, I just got word that your car burst into flames during the pursuit."
Hope was so close and then snatched away in a matter of words.
He had no further information to give us than that.
(not actual photo, dramatic example)
This situation came with a slew of emotions all over the map but I can certainly sum it up with a few:
But those words are overpowered by words like:
You see, there is no greater violation then having someone take something from you that does not belong to them. For Josh and Sarah the violation they felt was just that, their personal property was actually taken from them. For me the violation came when that man opened my bedroom door. The place where I sleep. The place where Stacy, my wife, my precious partner sleeps. And although I believe he was only coming in to find other belongings he could loot, I cannot be fully certain of his intentions. I thank God even now for his protection. I realize I have a finite understanding; where I was frustrated because of my lack of sleep, He was patient, knowing that I would soon understand the blessing of my restlessness. I truly believe The Lord kept me awake that night so no greater harm would come to us or our home.
God cares for us and God is not foreign to the sense of violation. The greatest violation in history was when satan convinced man that knowledge was more important than his connection with God, when he stole authority that did not belong to him and negotiated the terms that broke the bond between God and man.
We all search, we know there is an answer and we want it. And in a world that is full of answers that don't hold up when tested we feel helpless but God takes notice and brings Hope. God redeemed man and bridged that gap torn open by our fall into sin. And when satan tries to evoke fear by cracking doors and threatening to steal from us again, Christ is our advocate, interceding on our behalf and He will shed light in a dark room revealing the thief where he stands.
When it comes down to it we live in a violent world. I believe that Christ is my advocate, I also believe he asks us to advocate for others. We had but a car and a few material things stolen from us, there are many around us who have much more stolen from them daily and all they are asking for is someone to take notice and be an advocate for them. God used this situation to really help me grab a sense of violation to a mild degree, so when it comes time to minister to those who have truly experienced violation I can better empathize than I have before. He knows how to take a situation intended for evil and work it for good.
With all that said, Pray for us. Pray for Josh and Sarah as it's a big deal to be over seas without ID and Bank Cards. They had cash and about $800 in Wedding Gift Cards stolen from them. Plus I already mentioned their new camera. Pray that God will restore what was taken. They have really good hearts and actually joined this YWAM DTS a week after they got married, so to start their marriage off on the best foot possible, serving the Lord.
Pray that everything will work out for YWAM concerning the car. We have limited resources and being a missionary organization we don't have random money that we can just pull out to supplement the loss.
Pray for the man who stole our car. He too needs our Advocate of Love to remind him of his true purpose in this world.
We see God continuing to work!
Thank you for your prayers.
God is Good and You are Proof.