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Attackers ‘just need Jesus,’ missionaries’ daughter cries

KARAMOJA, Uganda (BP)–A Southern Baptist missionary family in Uganda escaped death Sept. 9 after bandits pumped bullets into their car during an ambush attempt.

Larry and Terry Singletary, International Mission Board missionaries from Tomball, Texas, were driving with their children outside Karamoja, Uganda. Andy, 19, and Jackie, 15, were in the back seat singing “God is good, all the time!” with their parents when a tribal warrior stepped from the tall grass alongside the road. He quickly retreated into the grass, then reappeared, aiming an AK-47 automatic weapon at the car. Another armed man appeared on the other side of the road.

“I knew we were in an ambush,” Mrs. Singletary said.

The warrior began firing in front of the missionaries’ car. Singletary jammed the gearshift into reverse and swung the car around as his family ducked between the seats. Three bullets pierced the car and entered the vehicle.

“One went in through the roof and hit between Jackie and Andy in the back seats,” Mrs. Singletary said. “One shattered the window on Andy’s side. We’re not sure about the other.” A piece of shrapnel hit Jackie’s back, but Mrs. Singletary said the wound was not serious.

The family sped away for five minutes before a tire blew out. “With fear and trembling we stopped and changed the tire,” she said.

Above the chaos and tears, 15-year-old Jackie loudly cried out, “They just need Jesus! They just need Jesus! They live in darkness. They don’t understand … Oh God, they just need you!”

The family also got on their two-way radio and contacted a missionary on the other side of Kenya. Within minutes, every missionary who had a radio was listening to the Singletarys’ story and praying for the family’s safety.

God’s peace descended on the family and they began to calm down as they continued driving. Soon after, another tire blew out. With no more spare tires or water, the family worried about when another vehicle might venture their way to help. Eventually, a small truck approached, but when the driver saw the stranded car he backed up and turned around. The family screamed for help, so the driver reluctantly stopped.

The driver was with a Catholic priest, and both assisted the family once they heard about the ambush. The priest explained they had started to leave because he was ambushed on the same road the week before, and he feared the family was luring him into a trap.

The driver took Mrs. Singletary and the children to a nearby town where they had one of the flat tires repaired while Singletary stayed with the car.

Once the tire was fixed, they drove home. Another tire blew out just as they pulled into the driveway.

“We are in the middle of a battle for the heart and soul of this people,” Mrs. Singletary said of the incident — and of the Karamojong people they are striving to reach with the gospel. “The (devil) is throwing a hissy fit. We all agree that the experience we went through is the reason we are here. It is the sick who need a doctor. Dr. Jesus.”

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  • Brittany Jarvis