Staring out the window, I absently watched the conifers, aspens and bare granite hills for which Colorado is well-known flash by. I leaned back in my seat waiting for this trip to finally be over.
I was one of a seven-member evangelist group for the summer with the Salvation Army. We stopped at churches throughout Wyoming and Colorado. The summer was nearly half over and we were headed to Colorado Springs for one of our last stops. The experience brought me closer to God than I ever expected, but it also exhausted us; we had been working 12-16 hour days almost every day for two months.
The bus driver and our leader, Lieutenant Pontsler, and I were the only ones still awake during the last three hours of this drive. The bus was a short 1935 Chevrolet painted bright blue and red with large, bright yellow script on the side reading “Salvation Army Hallelujah Road Show.” The bus was packed with not only slumbering teenagers and one adult, but everything an evangelist group needs for entertaining kids and adults alike from balloons to religious tracts and from puppets to musical instruments.
At one point I saw out of the corner of my eye what appeared to be a spark leap out from the bottom of the dashboard. Curious, I focused on the spot from where I thought it came. I stared and waited to see if another would follow. After about a minute, no other sparks poppedout. Shrugging it off as my eyes only seeing things, I turned my thoughts inward once more.
The second I turned my gaze back to the window, white smoke billowed out of the bottom of the dash and filled the bus’s interior. Lieutenant Pontsler swerved to the side of the interstate
"Everyone out," she yelled. "The bus is on fire!"
I wasn’t sure, because it smelled electrical to me. Plus, by the time she shut the engine, the smoke had thinned if not stopped altogether. I didn’t say anything; either way, exiting the bus was the smart thing to do.
The others, instantly awake, poured out of the bus and stood in the ditch. We then stared at our ride, waiting for flames devour it.
I thought, “Great. Just when I thought we’d be in Colorado Springs in only a few hours, now we’re stranded.” I got down on my knees and prayed, “God. All I ask is You send a tow truck.”
As soon as I looked up, a tow truck drove by and pulled over in front of the bus. I could only stare with my mouth agape. Never had God answered one of my prayers so quickly before.
I then danced a jig while the tow truck driver hooked up the bus. I think the rest of the crew thought I lost my head, but I didn't care. God had answered my prayer.
At least, I thought He did.
The true miracle was not the timely appearance of the tow truck, at least not entirely. After discovering what actually happened, I think God would have sent the truck had I not even prayed for it.
All seven of us piled into the truck. The driver than dropped us off at a motel in a small town not far from where we had pulled over, and took our damaged vehicle to the mechanic’s shop.
Early the next morning, Lieutenant Pontsler checked on our bus to see if it was fixed yet.
The mechanic who worked on it was a Christian and said, “God was really looking out for you guys. Had you not pulled over when you did, all of you would be dead.”
Apparently, the smoke resulted from two naked electrical wires underneath the dash making contact and fusing together. But he discovered a more serious problem as he checked the rest of the bus over. A bolt from the passenger side rear wheel had either loosened or broken off. If we had made even the slightest turn (in Colorado, turns are impossible to avoid), the wheel would have flown off, rolling the bus over. At 55 miles an hour, the wreck would have killed us all.
Humbled, astonished and more than a little grateful, I realized then God did not answer the prayer of a tired and frustrated teenager by sending a tow truck. He generated a puff of smoke to save the lives of seven people.