Ah, Hawaii! Its advertising frequently doesn’t do it justice. So much green, with the sharp clear blue sky that never clashes with the foliage below. Just enough sweet wind to cool skin tinged pink and warmed from the sun. Friendly people, moving languidly to intoxicating strains of Polynesian music. Sparkling water just tangy enough to thoroughly refresh.
But all is not pure on the white sand beaches of this paradise.
By night or day, gangs of local boys roamed the neighborhoods, focusing on the beaches because that’s where the tourists hung out, preying on the vulnerable. It wasn’t necessarily for purposes of robbery; they simply enjoyed the confrontation. Usually, the more violent, the better.
Our little family—Jack, Kate, daughter Jacqui—lived across the highway from a wonderful white sand beach. We were on this island at a direct call from God to minister in an area where there was, as everywhere, a deep need for the Gospel. We considered it a special blessing to be so close to the water and its soft white sand, palm and banyan trees providing shade from the white-hot sun.
Most afternoons we liked to dash across the highway, carrying beach blanket, books, snorkel gear and all the paraphernalia needed for the beach. Jack had come to know some of the boys—usually late teens or early twenties—who gathered on this particular beach, and so we felt comfortable with the site we had chosen as our R & R headquarters for the afternoon.
But darkness waited on the white sands that afternoon.
Blanket spread out, books anchoring it from the breeze, the beach bag at the ready to provide sunscreen, snacks and other comforts of beach life, we set about enjoying paradise.
Jack headed out with his snorkel gear. And I, quickly unwrapping my favorite orchid pareu which covered my swimsuit, settled on the blanket with a book. Jacqui, just five years old, headed for the water, colorful safety float around her middle.
Suddenly, one of the gang of boys ran swiftly past the blanket, grabbing the beach bag. I turned in time to see it happen, and I jumped to my feet in reaction, intending to chase down the thief. I screamed for Jack, pointing at the gang who had begun tossing the bag back and forth to each other: “Jack, they’ve got our beach bag!”
My husband, still close enough to hear what was happening, trotted over and yelled to the guys, “Hey, come on, bring the bag back.” It looked at first like play. It wasn’t.
As Jack drew closer, the gang, as at a signal, surrounded my husband and jumped him. Fists and arms flew, as Jack covered his head as best he could with his arms.
Stunned, Jacqui and I could only stand helpless and watch. Two of the boys pinned Jack’s arms behind his back while the others began punching. It was an impossible situation.
My reaction was not fear—it was anger. Without my even thinking about it, the words poured out in a shout, “Leave him alone! In the name of Jesus, stop it!” Realizing then what I had just said, but also recognizing that as far away as the noisy melee was, none of the gang could possibly have heard me, I knew surely that my power was not physical anyway, but spiritual.
“I said, In the name of Jesus, STOP IT!”
To my relief, the gang dropped their fists and began backing away from Jack. They abandoned the beach bag, and the fight, and began running off down the beach.
Jack quickly ran back to me and Jacqui, dabbing at the blood on his face. I took note of a split lip, and some blood running from his ear. Then he said, breathing heavily, “Did you see what happened? The guys who were punching me looked scared all of a sudden, and quit.”
I wrapped my arms around my husband, pulling Jacqui to us as well.
“I didn’t see them, but I know what happened,” I said, my voice shaking. “That was the power of the name of Jesus,” and told him of my part in the action.
Now trembling and exhausted, we carefully made our way back to our home across the road. It felt as though the light of God surrounded us, and we knew that, although this “paradise” could be dark, the white light of the Gospel could pierce that darkness.
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