Ashley wiped the sweat from her eyes and fumbled for her car keys. With a glance toward the strange pickup, she dashed for her apartment door. But it was no use. The man was on her instantly…gun in hand.
She had no choice but to do as he commanded and opened her door. This is it, she thought. I’m going to die.
“Do you know who I am?” Brian Nichols raced around the apartment closing curtains.
“Yes.” She heard herself say.
“I didn’t do it!” he lashed out. “I didn’t rape that girl. I’m innocent!”
Ashley thought back to the news coverage she had been watching earlier in the evening. This man, the one in her living room this very moment, had killed three people earlier in the day while making his escape. She was in big trouble.
“Get in the tub!”
Ashley did as she was told. Within minutes her hands were taped together and she was told to go lay on her bed. He’s going to rape me. And then I’m going to die.
“Put your legs out in front of you.”
Ashley thanked God for this unexpected blessing. The man took an electrical cord and tied her legs together, then carried her back in the bathroom so he could keep an eye on her while showering.
“I’m putting a towel over your head so you don’t have to watch,” Nichols said as he prepared to shower.
Seriously? Ashley now had a clue there was a chance she might survive. This man saw her as a human. He was a rapist and a murderer and yet… was protecting her from having to watch him shower? Ashley prayed hard for direction.
After his shower, Nichols moved on to the next thing. “Got any weed?” His pacing reminded her of a caged animal.
“No, but I have ice,” Ashley regretted the words as soon as they were out. She was fighting an addiction to methamphetamines and now had just offered the drug that made her crazy to a mass murderer. What was she thinking?
“You gonna do it with me?” he asked as he found the drugs where she directed.
“I…I…don’t really think you should do this. The drug makes me crazy. I’m trying to quit.” Ashley sought for a way out of this fix but to no avail.
Moments later Brian lay back on the couch feeling the results of his hit. Surprisingly it relaxed him – the opposite effect it had on Ashley.
“Do you mind if I read?” she asked timidly.
When Brian nodded his head, she went into her room to find “The Purpose Driven Life.” Sitting on the living room floor, she read silently.
“Read to me.” Brian inhaled deeply; his head rolling to one side.
Ashley seized her moment and began reading the passage she had left off with the day before. The words spoke to her soul and gave her strength.
When she finished, Brian startled her with a request. “Read it again,” he sat up a little more alert.
Ashley read to him how every person has a purpose in God’s plan and a value to Him.
“So what’s your purpose?” Brian questioned.
Ashley prayed for wisdom. “I think I’m here to…you know…to help other people. My purpose is to serve.” Ashley braced herself and then moved on. “What…um…what do you think my purpose is?”
Nichols thought for a moment. “I guess your purpose might be to talk to other people. Tell them what’s happened to you...you know?”
Relief flooded Ashley’s mind. Nichols sat up, looked her straight in the eyes, and asked, “But what’s my purpose then?”
“Look, you have to pay for what you’ve done, Brian. There’s no way around that. Maybe your purpose is to minister to those in prison.” Ashley rubbed her fingers together nervously.
There was no response. He just hung his head.
The following day, Ashley was allowed to leave the apartment in order to make her life appear normal. As she drove off, she dialed 911 with shaky fingers and within moments police surrounded her home where Brian Nichols surrendered without incident. Ashley now spends her life speaking about her ordeal and what God taught her through it. She is living out her purpose.
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