Thursday, October 16, 1997

Armed Robbery

We were very happy in our little garden flat and did not even think about any security issues when we moved it. There are burglar bars on all the windows (not just opening ones), security gates on both doors and an alarm system. We were just totally happy with our own little space and the garden and birds.

Unfortunately things did not stay as peaceful as they started. One day we arrived home in the evening to find all the curtains had been opened (we had left them all closed). This was so very frightening. I remember sitting on our bed after Brendon had gone through the whole place and quickly lifting my legs and saying “Did you check under the bed”. After much checking we realized they must have managed to open the windows from outside (as they had all been closed too) and pulled the curtains open with something so that they could have a look inside. They did not set the alarm off and they also managed to hook Brendon’s bike jacket over and pull that through the window. So although there was not much taken, it really shook me up.

A week later we were getting ready to leave for Bible study – planning on travelling through on Brendon’s bike which we often did. As we got outside, jackets on and helmets in hand, we saw that the bike was gone. We parked it outside our bedroom window and it was quite frightening to think they had been right outside our window through the night. The police got called in, the found the gap in the wall where they had taken the slats of the wall out to get the bike through. But nothing more could really be done. We did not have insurance on the bike and I had some of the perhaps typical responses that many South African’s have to crime. I was frightened – yes, but I was also angry. I remember saying things to Brendon (when no one else was around to hear) like “What is this country coming too? I can’t believe people will do this?”

The Lord was gracious though and helped me to learn to trust in Him more fully. We also realized we need to be a bit wiser with insurance issues and so discussed getting content insurance. After a week Brendon finally got to phone around and I remember him phoning me from work to discuss a quote he had gotten. We agreed it was money well spent (even though we were on a tight budget) and so he said he would phone them back and get it set up. I remember the insurance adds on the radio (which was why we called them) and a main part of their advert was that you were insured straight away.

Well, again the Lord was very gracious as that very night (the very same day that Brendon set up our content insurance) we had an armed robbery at the house. We had been out and arrived home after dark. I got out the car to open the gate (as I always did) and Brendon drove the car in. Once he was inside someone hit his window and holding a gun to his head told him to get out. I remember hearing them say “where is your wife”. I stood still, thinking it was safer than either trying to run away or walking up to them and frightening them. So one of the 4 men came over and brought me up to Brendon. One drove the car in and parked it by the house while the others walked us over.

Brendon was told to open the house. He showed them the alarm that had to be switched off, switched that off and opened up. Once we were inside they saw the eye in the corner of the room flash as it picked up movement. They got really scared, thinking we had set the alarm to warn a security company. We really had to convince them that it was just registering movement and that the alarm was in fact off. Their first question then was “where is your gun”? We again had to try and convince them that we had no gun. Eventually Brendon said “If you find a gun you can shoot me. We have not got a gun.” That seemed to satisfy them.

One odd thing was that one of the men asked “so are you God’s people?” “Yes” we said. And I was so very thankful that I was indeed on of God’s children. I remember so clearly the amazing peace that the Lord had poured into my heart through this all. Just a week before I had been a nervous wreck – and that without any robbers even in sight.

This day I experienced the presence of God, the power of the Holy Spirit in no way I had ever experienced before. And it was not a confidence that we would live through this. The man holding the gun kept taking the safety off. They had Brendon tied up and none of them had masks on their faces. We honestly did not think they would leave us alive. But how absolutely wonderful to know you are a child of the Most High God and that even if they took my physical life – they could not do a thing to my soul. That I was God’s and even if this life had to end – it would just mean the beginning of eternity in the presence of my King.

By God’s grace they decided to leave us alive. Although tied up and put in the bathroom with instructions to not leave for 2 hours because they would be watching the house. They loaded the car up with as many valuables they could (including my brand new over locker). As we had just gotten back from bible study Brendon’s bible was still on the back seat and that was probably the saddest loss. And although it was sad to have our wedding rings taken (as it was not possible to replace them exactly) I was still so very thankful to have my husband and my life.

There are many other memories from that night that I won’t go into now. But I do remember sitting at Brendon’s parents kitchen counter that night (well – early hours of the next morning to be precise) and laughing about some of the silly things that had happened. Just one example being the fact that when the police finally got to the house they asked Brendon to go into the property first – while they came behind with the gun! Brendon’s mother had done many years of volunteer work at hospice and one of the ladies that worked with her said that we should go for trauma counselling (which I think sometimes is a very good thing). What was encouraging for me was that Brendon’s mother could say with confidence “they don’t need it”. It was only God’s grace that helped us through that night and gave healing.

We were so very thankful for the help that we then got from Brendon’s company. The very next day they lent us a truck and one of the workers to help us pack up and move out. Brendon’s parents opened their home to us and we managed to get all our furniture and boxes packed in there. We had only been married for 4 months – so there was not all that much “stuff” yet.

God was so very faithful and our car was found with Brendon’s bible and wallet (no money but at least all his cards, driver’s license and ID). The insurance company paid out for the rest of the items that had been stolen.

What an amazing God we serve. I love how I can look back over my life and see how God has had His hand of protection and guidance on my life. “Thank You Father”

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