Friday, May 11, 2012

when the unthinkable happens

Deanna and Whitney, just a few years back. This year, Whitney celebrates her first Mother's Day with her son Tucker who is about this same age.


When our children are young, we love them, watch them grow (with amazement), and do all we can protect them. We hope and pray they will seek the Lord, and follow His heart.

When working with students in ministry, one has the same heart.

Some of them choose to follow the Lord, some do not. It is very difficult to watch the ones who do not. You find yourself second guessing and wondering if a different approach would have made a difference.

It is difficult to watch the ones who seek Him for a time, and then allow the world to get ahold of them, and drag them down.

Facebook is often a window into the hearts and lives of people. Sometimes what happens on there is not edifying. Sometimes it's heartbreaking.

Yesterday morning, I was checking in on a former student. One who is now an adult. I noticed she had started a new blog. Deanna and I had seen some updates on facebook recently, that raised questions that we had no answers to.

I was hoping the blog would provide answers. I was not prepared for what I would find.

This is a young woman is significantly blessed with an incredible singing voice. She also has a passion for theater. After completing high school, she went to a university and studied music. When she had completed this degree, she moved to NYC to live her dream.

Throughout this time, she found herself struggling with who she was, what she knew to be truth, and living at times in ways that stood in contrast to this.

After arriving in NYC and getting her feet on the ground, her priorities began to settle down. She got a job to pay the bills, got involved with a theater company, and plugged into a church.

Soon, she had the privilege of going to Africa to serve on the mission field. This had long been a desire that was within her, but she had not experienced it. Her first experience was life changing. She soon returned for a second opportunity.

Because she chose to follow the Lord in serving, she was fired from her theater company. A sacrifice she was willing to make.

Her life was moving in a great direction... and then the unthinkable happened.

She caught a cab home from work, late one evening.

She paid her money, and made a move to get out. I'll share the rest in her words:

At this time the driver raises a gun (which I later learn was a 7mm hang gun) over his head and says, "No, no baby, you get back in or this goes off."

Forgive me, there are blank spots in my memory and a time when I completely blacked out of it all.

I sit back in my seat, trying to quietly find my phone and dial 911 but I couldn't find it. As I am doing this 2 other men are approaching the car. They look down into the drivers window to talk but they are all talking in some king of different language, not English, not Spanish.

Then suddenly one of them gets in the back seat with me and one of them gets into the passenger seat with the driver. The driver hands the gun to the passenger and the passenger tosses it over to the man sitting far too close to me. I still can't figure out why I don't remember saying anything. Not one word. I was hyperventilating and crying but no words.

The man now sharing the backseat with me has the gun pointed right at my left temple. I hear a click. I don't know if that means the bullet has loaded into the chamber or if he just locked it but I know a click means something. He asks if I am wearing any pants under my work clothes. I say yes. At this time the passenger gets out of the car and then gets back in the car, only this time he is also in the back seat.

They trade off putting the gun near my ear and on my temple and under my chin. They make me put it inside my mouth. They ask if I ever want to see my family again. They ask if I have a father. I say yes. They ask if I thought my father would really care if he never saw me again. They asked if I had a boyfriend and I said no. They said, "Well after we get done with you no one will ever want you again, you know that honey?"

They then took off my pants, all with the gun still being pointed and pressed up against different parts of my face and neck and head.

Then....they took their turns. One holding me in a choke hold with the gun to my temple while the other forced himself on me. Then they switched.

All the time talking about how I would never see my parents again.

This is about the time I stop paying attention. I start praying. I am saying my last and final pleas to Jesus. Not that He would save me, but that it would be over quick. That I wouldn't look too disfigured when my family had to come identify my body. I prayed [my cousin who is like a sister] wouldn't hurt too badly.

I prayed that maybe [my brother] really did know how much I loved him.
I prayed that my mom would find that strength to survive this.
I prayed that my dad would be the rock my family would need, but also let them heal him.
I prayed that they would all forgive me.

I prayed that [my first boyfriend] would somehow know that in that moment, what I thought was my dying moment, I just wished he could have been the one holding me.

And then I felt the shock of pavement as my head slammed into the curb, chipping my tooth.

They had dumped me. They let me go. I wasn't shot. I regain a little as I hear, "We'll be back! We know where you live and we like what you have" driving away down Amsterdam Ave.

After that is is a black blur. I know that someone found me stumbling around looking for my keys and was trying to get into an apartment that wasn't mine. She sat me down on the curb. It was then I realized that the cab must have been moving while everything was happening because we were not in front of my apartment building any longer. We were in front of Columbia hospital, in my neighborhood.

The next thing I remember is being in an ambulance yelling at the drivers and those who were just trying to help me, that they couldn't touch me and that I wanted to go home and that they were breaking the law by touching me and forcing me to be there with them.

Of course, I say nothing in the taxi, but for the people who try to help me I have plenty to say. First impression was not so great.

After spending the next 29 hours in the hospital, [where I had numerous tests and rape kits run], I finally was released. I walked home in the snow with one of my sweet friends who sacrificed her day to sit with me waiting till they would let me go home.

I get home and my parents are there waiting for me and it is the most amazing feeling to see your family after you had just said goodbye to them forever.

That first hug I got from my dad has me bawling right now.....The place I fit just under his chin on his shoulder. I though that place was gone for good. I had said goodbye to that place. But just like that, I had it back.

This is ALOT I know, but this story needs to be told. All of these stories need to be told. There is no sense in the silent. If I fear then they win, that's true. But if I never speak of it again and hide it to myself forever, they will win forever.

After this experience, she moved back to Indiana. She is surrounded by those who love her, and is making a fresh start.

What I have not shared, is that through the years, my family has been involved in her life. My girls, my wife and I have each been blessed by her as well as poured into her.

The day that BJ died, she placed a picture of him on the mirror of her passenger side seat, in her car. It remains there to this day. When this unthinkable thing happened to her, she was carrying just a few things in her bag. One of those things was her copy of "I Would Die for You." The Lord had been ministering to her through it as she grappled with living a missional lifestyle.

It is imperative that we each understand that if we are in Christ, we are not the sum of the sin we have committed. Neither are we the sum of the sins perpetrated against us.

This young woman understands that He has a plan for her life. She is seeking Him hard! Please join me in praying for her!

When the unthinkable happens in our lives, He is there. He draws us to Him. Some will become bitter and turn their backs on Him. Blaming Him.

He is big enough to handle that. He draws the bitter, back to Him.

He desires to love us. He extends His grace to us. He wants to be in relationship with us. He is seeking, but we must allow Him have our hearts, our lives, our surrender.

He never intended suffering to be defeat, rather a process whereby we are refined and become increasingly useful in His Mighty hands!

She was overwhelmed, but not defeated. She is making His name known to those who will listen. He is using her voice, her heart, her testimony to bring glory to His Name!

After all, that is how our lives are to be poured out.

Suffering will come, for each of us. How we handle it amid the storm and what we do with it afterwards reflects our relationship with Him.

If my dear friend who realizes her survival is His mercy, can serve Him, so can you and I!

Bring Him Glory, He is worth your all!



At 12:56 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

I can't imagine how horrific this must have been for this young lady, or her family. It makes me think of my three daughters and how I would feel if it were ever to happen to them, but I have the wonderful assurance as does this survivor that I have a Savior who loves and cares for me and my girls. Praise God that He has given her a voice and willing ears of those who listen to her testimony.

At 6:51 PM, Anonymous Patty Davila said...

that was so painful. I think of Tricia every day going to the city and taking cabs a subways and it is all so overwhelming. I want to put my arms around this girl and never let go. I will just pray that God will extend His arms and send His healing love to cover her.

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