Most of you probably already know, but for those who do not, our family was robbed at gunpoint in our home 2 nights ago and many shots were fired in our home. We are very shaken up by this ordeal. We need you all to be praying for us and all the other missionaries here in Jacmel, Haiti as we were the 3rd missionary family this month to have this happen.
Due to the fact that it had already happened to 2 other friends of ours, many of us had been talking about ways that we can better prepare ourselves in case of a home invasion. Therefore, when it happened to us, we were more prepared so that they didn’t get away with hardly anything, but nothing can prepare a person so that they are not emotionally affected by such a violation…and that’s exactly how we feel at this very moment…violated.
It happened on Tuesday night at about 2AM. Maria was just telling me that night before we went to sleep that she was very afraid and felt like it would just be a matter of time before the robbers hit up our house. They seem to be on a pattern of about once every 2 weeks, and Maria was telling me that night that it was coming up on two weeks since our friends were robbed. I told her that it was not good to talk about such things just before trying to go to sleep. I told her that she would just have nightmares and not be able to sleep. Well, little did we know that we would be living the nightmare just a few hours later.
She woke me up at 1:50 in the morning telling me that she just saw somebody outside our window. I thought she might just have been paranoid since she was just talking about it before going to bed. I didn’t dismiss it either, but I did ask her if she was really sure. She said that she was positive. So, in silence we both listened, and within seconds we heard some activity, like a scraping sound outside our bedroom window. I told her to call our friend immediately and have her call the police. We then woke up Isabela who we have had sleeping in our room for the past week because of these robberies. I then ran to Isabela’s room and woke up my friend who was visiting with us for a few days. I told him to be quiet and that we were being robbed.
Once I made sure that Maria and Isabela and the baby were in our designated safe place, my friend and I ran through the house trying to find a weapon of some sort to fend off the robbers. As we did this, we started screaming really loud to try to scare them off. We even let a few obscenities slip out of our mouth as we were just screaming and telling them to get out of here. The scraping sounds then became louder as they realized that they no longer had to be quiet since we knew they were there. So, then they just started banging on our window and it sounded like they had a crowbar trying to break the bars that were over the window.
Unfortunately, the only “weapon” that I was able to find was my daughter’s scooter and my friend had one of our kitchen stools. It was so silly, but that’s all that we could find. I started screaming at them in Creole letting them know that the police were on their way with guns and that I had friends coming with guns. My friend who did not speak Creole just dropped a few more obscenities. But nothing fazed these guys, and soon after we heard several gun shots. We immediately dropped our weapons of choice and realized that the only thing we could do was hide ourselves in the bedroom and try to block them out. First, I ran to the front door and purposely tripped off our small radio shack alarm that we had just installed a few weeks ago. This caused a loud siren noise which I hoped would scare them off. It did not work. They just seemed to get more upset, and they fired off a few more shots. Then I heard them coming towards the front door. At that point, I had already retreated to the bedroom to make sure that my family was still in the safe place. In haste, I did not re-lock the front door even though the outside metal gate door was already padlocked.
When I got to the bedroom, I told Maria not to hide in the bathroom as we had planned because there was a window there and I was afraid that the thieves would shoot through the window. So, I had them gather in an area of the bedroom where they were not in front of a window or a door. Maria was nursing the baby so that he would remain calm. Isabela was doing a great job remaining calm and not crying. All of us were operating under God’s grace. Then, we heard them break through the front door. My friend pushed our dresser against the door and tried to make a barricade as he braced himself against the dresser. I stayed in the corner with Maria and the kids. We heard them go into a room, unfortunately it was the room where my friend was sleeping and we later learned that they took his ipad and his iphone.
Then it got much worse. They started trying to get into our bedroom. We saw the handle turn back and forth. Then they started banging away on the door. More shots were fired. I had no idea that the shots were being fired through the door until another shot was fired and the lamp on the dresser smashed. My friend was just behind the dresser bracing it up against the door. We later saw the bullet hole in the dresser that was inches away from my friend’s head. God’s protection was upon us for sure.
Soon, I realized that they were going to be able to get into the room, it was just a matter of seconds or minutes. So, I made the decision to surrender to them. I had no other choice. So, I shouted in Creole, “Ok, Ok, I’m coming out. I have money. Just please don’t shoot. I have a baby in here. Please don’t shoot. I’ll give you the money.” They agreed and said that they would not shoot and that they just wanted the money.
So, in that moment, I was the most helpless than I have ever been in a dangerous situation. I did not know what I was opening the door to. I thought that I might be opening the door to a bullet to my head. But I just had to trust the Lord and believe that He was still in control of all of this. And He was. I opened the door and slipped out so that the thieves never even got inside the room where my family was. They never even saw any of them. They never saw their guns, thank God.
Once I opened the door, I saw three guys in front of me and they all had their guns pointed at me. The alarm was still going off, their flashlights were in my face so that could not see them, but all I could see was their shadows and their arms extended with their chrome pistols pointed at me. I tried to open the door to the office where our safe was located, but the door was jammed. I kept trying to open it, and the thieves were getting mad. They were probably thinking that I was trying to stall them, but I really wasn’t. But looking back, I know that that was the hand of God because it did buy a few more minutes for the police to arrive, and those could have been life and death minutes.
The robber reached in my pocket trying to find a key, but I told him that there was no key. The door was just jammed. So, another guy came back with a crow bar and with 3 fierce blows knocked the door in and kicked it wide open. I went to the safe and opened it up to give them the money that we had kept there. It was only $250. When I gave them the money, they became angry. They demanded more. At that moment a few more shots were fired from the living room. I think the thieves were shooting trying to get the alarm to stop.
The thieves in the room with me demanded that I give them the rest of the money. I told them that I did not have anything else, but they were obviously not happy. They started opening up drawers looking for more money. I saw that they were not just going to leave with $250. Just as I was about to tell them that I will try to find some more money, I heard a spray of shots and I heard a thief cry from the other room that the police were there. And just like cockroaches in the light, they all fled in a split second.
I ran back to the room and saw that my family was all safe. We all stayed in the room until our friend called to let us know that the police were outside and that it was okay to come out.
So, that’s the story. It was one of the scariest moments of my life. It is still surreal as I think about it, but with each hour that passes the reality sets in that bullets were shot through my own bedroom door where my wife and children were on the other side. And that makes me MAD! These thieves could have killed my little girl or my wife or my baby boy. Four shots were fired through the door that went clearly through and put a hole in the wall on the other side of the room. If any of us had been in front of the door during that time, we could have been killed. And that makes me MAD!
We are terribly shaken up by this ordeal. We have hardly slept at all at night since this happened. We are staying with a friend down the road, but we are still scared because these thieves are still on the loose.
Under the full support of our mission board, we will be returning to the states just to get some healing and counsel in a safe place as we try to work through these issues. Please pray that God would continue to lead, guide, and direct our steps. We are flying back tomorrow.
Pray for all the missionaries here who are scared and having a lot of difficulty sleeping at night. Pray for the conviction of God to fall mightily on these thieves, that they would have a radical encounter with God and realize the darkness that they are living in. Pray that they would repent. And if they don’t repent, pray that we all would leave vengeance in the hands of the Lord because I know that their judgment will be great on the day that they stand before God and have to give account for harming God’s people. It will be a day where I myself will declare, “Lord, all your judgments are just.” Please pray for us. Pray for Isabela who has been through so much in these last few years along with all of us. It is overwhelming. First the earthquake, then Susana’s cancer, then Susana being taken to Heaven and the grief that we carry, and now this horrible violation. It is just a lot for any one of us to handle. Pray for us please.