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Missionaries shaken but thankful after surviving bandits’ carjacking

LUSAKA, Zambia (BP)–A Southern Baptist missionary family in Zambia said they are praising God after surviving a Feb. 17 carjacking by armed bandits.

Southern Baptist church planters Steve and Shirley Taylor, along with their 9-year-old daughter, McKelvey, were not injured when the four gunmen brandished automatic weapons and ordered them out of their vehicle.

Taylor recounted the events surrounding the incident in the Zambezi River Valley in an e-mail distributed to prayer partners, family and friends.

“Upon our return [from dinner] at about 8:40 p.m., we pulled into the drive … and blew our horn for the guard to open the gate,” Taylor wrote. “At the same time, we saw a vehicle pull directly behind … .”

The four armed men promptly jumped from the vehicle. “Two of the men were at my window yelling for me to open the truck, and another man was aiming a rifle at my family on the passenger’s side,” he wrote.

When the men threatened to kill the family, “I realized there was only one thing to do,” Taylor continued. “I had to surrender the truck.”

Taylor’s wife and daughter complied with the attackers’ order to get out of the truck and lie on the ground face-down, and Taylor was pushed to the ground by a man with a gun to the back of Taylor’s head.

The man took Taylor’s wallet, and the other three attackers jumped in the family’s truck and drove away, Taylor wrote.

As the man who had taken Taylor’s wallet was getting back into his car to leave, Taylor recounted, “For some reason known only to the Lord, I shouted, ‘At least let me have my wallet back. It only has pictures of my grandbaby inside.”

“Much to my surprise, he threw it at me and jumped into the car,” Taylor wrote.

The missionary admitted that when his face was in the gravel, he had honestly forgotten about the cash and credit cards he also had in the wallet. “If I ever meet that thief again,” Taylor wrote, “I’ll be sure to tell him I was mistaken about the wallet containing only baby pictures.”

Taylor wrote that he was able to roll out of the way of the vehicle when, while leaving, the final assailant tried to back over him.

In the e-mail, Taylor then told his readers about ways they could pray and offer praise.

“Please pray for McKelvey,” Taylor said first, noting that the experience was “very traumatic for her, as you might imagine.”

Taylor also requested prayer for their ministry, which not only lost a new mission vehicle but a substantial amount of cash hidden in it for emergencies, as well as groceries and ministry items they had purchased earlier in the day.

“Please pray that we can either recover this vehicle or replace it right away,” Taylor wrote.

Taylor also asked for prayer “that we will be able to maintain the right ‘attitude’ during these days of recovery.

“Satan invents many schemes to discourage us,” Taylor explained, “but we have learned that it is the Lord’s desire for us to take the fight to the evil one. We want to be a part of God’s faithful force, storming ‘the gates of hell’ to rescue the souls of men.”

Not forgotten by Taylor were fellow missionaries serving throughout the world, many in “very dangerous places.”

He also requested prayer for the salvation of the thieves, noting that the truck was full of gospel tracts and books. “Pray that the Lord will use those tools to reach people who otherwise would neither hear nor listen.”

Taylor said that he and his family are praising God for the peace he gave them during the robbery, as well as the fact that the robbers tossed back his wallet and did not notice his wife’s purse that she dropped beside the truck in the bushes. It contained their personal and ministry money for the next month.

The Taylors also are praising God that none of them were physically injured and for the members of their missionary family who ministered to them after the attack.

“We praise God that his plans for our lives are significant enough to involve suffering for his glory … (and) the work we are doing is critical enough that Satan targets us for his attacks.”

Taylor said that the event had caused him to conclude, “Sometimes you are simply not in a position to do anything, and so you just have to submit your life and the lives of those you love to the one who loves them even more. And sometimes when you are completely surrounded and there is no place to run, you just have to run into his hands. But, oh, what a place to hide!”

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  • John Loudat