After seventeen years, I still vividly recall my friend Edward's wedding to his beloved Ronke in Lagos, Nigeria's commercial nerve centre. I recall it for their joy, and for the terror of our trip home to Ibadan, Nigeria's largest city, which is normally about an hour's drive away.
The new couples were happy as they beamed with smiles. The joy of their occasion overflowed to everyone who came, for after courting for many years they were still filled with anticipation.
At around six o'clock in the evening, I set out with Sunday and three other friends to drive back home before it got too dark to travel safely.
However, this was not to be!
We were making good progress as the road began winding through a thick forest. Then, after rounding a bend, we suddenly found the road covered with small objects. Before we could avoid them, we discovered that one of them had punctured a tyre.
We were forced to pull to the side of the road, and I felt danger in the air.
"Lord, please don't let us suffer any attack," I prayed.
"There will be an attack. Pray that I blind the minds of your attackers," the Lord replied.
Then I started to pray like Hannah, speaking in my heart with my lips moving silently, as darkening shadows added extra menace to the fading light from the evening sky.
We quickly packed up the car and replaced the flat tyre with the spare, with the calls of nesting thrushes and warblers offering some melodic relief. But then, as I was about to close the car's trunk, I heard a shout,
"If you move...!"
My breath became short. My heart leaped within me as my eyes strained into the shadows to try to see where the voice was coming from
I was frozen with fear; unable to hear the rest of the threat; but the Holy Spirit calmed my heart:
"Fear not, I have told you earlier. I am with you."
Then another command from the darkness,
"Everybody lie down!"
Who dared to disobey?
"Do what they say, brothers." Sunday whispered to us, shivering as the gang worked me over first.
They carried out a comprehensive survey of our bodies; roughed us up, taking our bags, watches, money- and even a bottle of groundnuts. Later, they turned their attention to anything of value in our car and disappeared back into their cover of darkness.
Still lying down, I asked the Lord,
"What wrong have I done that you did not tell me which I must pay for in the hands of armed bandits?"
He quickly replied,
"This is not a matter of sin. I want to demonstrate My power today. The Philistines carried away the Ark of Covenant and it troubled them and their land. You will see a repeat of that because they have carried away your Holy Bible. My words says, 'Touch not my anointed and do my prophets no arm.' They disobeyed this. They will pay for it."
I was thinking,"In the hand of armed robbers!"
Suddenly, we heard a burst of gunfire followed by another round of shooting- only this time it was tear-gas cannisters.
Then came another calmer voice,
"My people, come out. We have helped you! Come out! Please, come and help us!"
Terrified, I wondered, " Who can these people be? How can we help them when we cannot help ourselves?"
We quickly identified them as Policemen, who bundled two of the bandits into their Patrol Vehicle, which we followed back to the Police station.
The gang leader and one other member had been shot and died from their wounds. One at exactly 12:00am while the other bid this earth goodbye at exactly 5:00am.
The Police men repeatedly said to us,
"These people, continue to serve your living God. We have been hunting this Vanish Group for long. Today, they could not vanish, because your God had delivered them into our hands."
Among the items the Police recovered from them was a big polythene bag that contained those objects the gang scattered on the road:
they were fresh onions with smooth, well trimmed surfaces having at least six well sharpened nails maliciously tucked into each one.
He that kept us did not sleep nor slumber (Psalm 121:4). He delivered us from those enemies that were stronger than us. Glory be to God!
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