LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)–It was a typical Ghanaian night — quiet, warm and muggy.
Eight men from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary were sound asleep on the campus of Ghana Baptist Seminary in the city of Kumasi. The next day, they would be teaching local pastors, preaching in local churches and encouraging their Baptist brethren. They had prepared well for this January mission trip.
They had not, however, prepared to be robbed.
It was around 2 a.m. when Rob Plummer, the trip leader, awoke to hear a noise outside. It was the voice of a Southern Baptist missionary who, along with his wife, was housing Plummer during the two-week stay.
The missionary, to be identified here as Felix for security reasons, had awoken minutes earlier, only to discover a security light out. Concerned about the safety of the other Southern Seminary team members — who were staying on the other side of campus — he had gone outside to investigate.
But Felix was accosted by three armed robbers. They had cut the electrical line leading to the light but had failed to break in through a window protected by bars.
Now, face to face with Felix, they wanted in his house, and they wanted money.
One of the robbers, armed with a shotgun, entered the house and confronted Plummer.
“I had time to stick my ID and other stuff underneath some towels and just grab a wad of money for them,” said Plummer, who serves as a New Testament professor at Southern. “I pulled out a wad of 77,000 Cedis, which is their local currency. It’s not worth much — about 10 bucks. … And I pulled out some American money, too.”
Unhappy, the robber demanded more.
“I said, ‘Hey. I’m just a teacher. I’ve come here to teach the Bible,” Plummer said. “I even said, ‘Hey, you can have these Bibles.’ The ironic thing is that it was about $300 worth of Bibles. They were very nice Bibles.”
Using his shotgun, the robber shoved Plummer on the shoulder, and then kept looking for money. He demanded $100 U.S. dollars, and Felix relented. However, the robber soon found much more money — around $1,800. Felix and his wife, Dene, had been saving money in hopes of financing an operation for a friend.
With Felix still in another part of the house, and the robber now outside, Plummer and Dene gathered at a window to pray.
Plummer began, “God, I pray that the terror of the Lord will fall on this robber. Protect us.”
Almost immediately, they heard a hostile noise at the window. Another robber, standing outside the window, had heard the prayer. He told them to be quiet.
“We started praying silently then, of course,” Plummer said with a smile.
The money was gone, but something much more important — their lives — had been spared.
Throughout the entire ordeal, Plummer said he felt a sense of calmness.
“It was odd, because at the time it wasn’t a very frightening experience,” he said. “It wasn’t scary. It was scary later when I thought of what could have happened. But the Lord was very present in all of that.”
The robbers did not confront the other seven students on the other side of the campus. But all of them were not sleeping soundly. One student, John Craven, had awoken feeling the need to pray.
“I knew something was going on that night,” said Craven, a master of divinity student from Loganville, Ga. “I woke up that night, and was experiencing a real fear. I knelt down beside my bed and prayed. I thought, ‘Well, maybe I’m just uncomfortable being here in Ghana.’ This was a strange type of fear.”
Craven said the incident served to bring the group closer.
“It was something that God brought into our group to happen,” he said. “It really gelled the group quick.”
“The Lord used that,” he said. “I think it’s the biblical principle of what people meant for evil, God meant for good. It immediately built a bond with the Ghanaian people. All of them felt terrible about it. They were very sympathetic to us. All of the churches were praying for our safety. …
“Through the trial that we endured, I think the whole team came to rely on God more. We had a lot of people praying for us, and we’re very thankful for those prayers and that God answered those and brought about our deliverance.”
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: PROF ON MISSION.