Thursday, December 6, 2007


Looking at this old picture taken in 1961 I remember some very rough traveling. I flew out of Manila in the Phillipines about sundown. My destination was Jakarta Indonesia. This long boring flight was made bareable by being invited into the cockpit to ride with the flight crew. We dodged thunder storms, and finally about midnight arrived in Jakarta.

The missionary I was going to visit didn't get my cable, and I found that all the hotel rooms were taken in the city by politicians. So, I found a small empty room with no ceiling, put my foot against the door, with my hand on my luggage and went to sleep.

I woke up about five o'clock in the morning, finally found someone who spoke English, and decided to take a bus ride 180 kilometers to Bandung. The English speaking man in the airport told a taxi driver to take me to the bus stop and we drove for several miles in the pitch dark through the back streets of Jakarta. I couldn't speak a word of their language as he found the bus stop and told the bus driver where I wanted to go. I got on the bus and rode up and down moutains at a snails pace until about 3:30 that afternoon I got off of the bus in Bandung and made this picture.

I hired a horse drawn cart and showed the driver the address of the Missionary. After a hour of wondering about - back and forth across town I was tired, out of sorts, and frustrated. I was talking too loud to the poor driver who was obviously lost and a man came out of a house and asked me in perfect English if I need some help.

To my great relief he told the driver exactly where I need to go. I got out of the cart in front of my Missionary friends house...went inside and let his 18 year old son go out and haggle with the driver about his fee.

Thinking back over this and many other dangerous events in my life I know I was often in constant danger. Yet I was never afraid. Why not?

There’s no ice water in my veins and I have a healthy respect for danger­ous situations. In traveling all over the world I’ve hung on for dear life to a log chain thrown around the middle of an elephant as its driver plunged us through a rainy jungle in Burma. Flying small air­planes across Mexico and Central America was hairy at times. But the nameless and faceless dread; the numbing anxiety and the fear of danger lurking every­where has not been a problem for me.

I know it has something to do with my early experiences with prayer. As a young boy I was full of mischief and a lot of people were giv­ing odds that I wouldn’t make it to my next birthday. My love of excitement and the willingness to try new things had already caused me a fair amount of trouble. My parents were con­stantly warning me about possible dangers.

My mother had her hands full with three boys and a girl. We had all of the usual trauma of cuts, dislocated arms, severe abrasions from bicycle wrecks and even a near drowning. But my mother had a firm, unshakable be­lief in prayer and several times I was a first hand participant in those prayers.

Like the time I went skating with my cousin Rex. We lived in a very small southern town and every day was a challenge for nine-year-old boys to find some­thing to do. Some of our solutions to that problem sounded pretty dangerous to my parents. They didn’t approve of climbing the tree beside the house and jumping on to the roof or going to the river to swim.

My mother had told us not to leave the house that day but the in­sects were playing their mad July song, the sun was hot and we needed something to do. When she took a nap, like convicts breaking out of prison, we care­fully slipped out of the yard to skate down the long streets be­tween our house and the school. We knew she wouldn’t allow us to do that but we promised each other to look out for cars. Anyway, we planned to be back be­fore she missed us.

There wasn’t a breeze anywhere as we grabbed our skates and ran down the street. When we were sure we were far enough away so mother couldn’t hear us we strapped on our skates. The streets were lined with huge oak trees that made a cool green canopy over the road during the long hot summer days. We felt pure pleasure as we skated along in the cool shade.

Going down those long winding streets was tremendously excit­ing because one hill in particular was so steep you built up quite a bit of speed on the way to the bottom. We laughed and teased one another as we skated our way to the steep hill. Then we took a deep breath and started down.

Just as we reached the bottom of the hill my cousin was on one side of the street and I was on the other. Our skates were making so much noise we didn’t hear the car coming up behind us. The woman who was driving said later she didn’t see us until she rounded the curve and then it was too late to stop.

She was standing on the brakes and trying to steer between us when suddenly I decided to turn around. She watched in horror as I turned in front of the right fender of her car - felt the bump as she hit me and saw me go down under the front of the car. Then she felt the wheel lift up as it went over me.

When the car stopped all I could hear was her screaming. She was sure she had killed me. Even today after 66 years the events are indelibly imprinted in my mind. It was like a slow motion movie. I felt the impact of the car, felt myself going down, and felt the car wheel roll over my legs. It was a strange sensation be­cause I felt no pain. Then I re­member vividly my skates getting caught in the undercarriage of the car just behind the right front wheel. I remember thinking about the possibility of the rear wheel running over me but instead I was dragged along until the car stopped.

I un­tangled my skates when the car stopped and crawled out. Then someone carried me to the doctor’s office just a few blocks away. It would be dramatic if I could talk about how scared I was but that wouldn’t be true. I knew I was going to be fine. In a short time the doctor dismissed me. He said I had some bruises but no seri­ous injuries. In less than an hour I was walking around the back yard at home.

A little later the woman who had hit me had regained her compo­sure and came to talk to my mother. I was asked to come inside so she could be sure I was all right. In express­ing her concern and amazed relief that I was all right she said: “You son is one lucky little boy.”

“No honey,” my mother said, “It wasn’t luck. I woke up shortly after they left and felt a sudden urge to pray for them. At the precise time of the ac­cident I was urgently pray­ing for God to pro­tect them both.” My mother laughed with happiness. “It was the angel of the Lord that saved him.”

“Yes,” the woman said, “I can certainly agree with that.”

The only physical problems I suf­fered were in the back of my ankles. The tendons in my heels were ex­tremely sensitive for years after that experience. Just a bump against the legs of a chair was enough to remind me of my sin of disobedience and also of God’s ten­der care and mercy. I had no problems walking or running and eventually I recovered completely from those minor prob­lems.

Because my mother has such a firm belief that God was always available to protect and help us, I’ve been spared a lifetime of needless anxiety. Truthfully, in a dangerous situation I was usually so busy trying to work it out, that it just never occurred to me that I might not make it. I also had a firm, rock solid knowledge that God had called me, and my life was in his hands.

Many of my own prayers have been answered in a spectacular way and that has also shaped my thinking. I must confess that often my prayers are not answered and I learned to accept the fact that God knew something I didn’t and there was no reason to worry about it. I’ve lived my whole life with a calm assur­ance that every­thing would come out all right in the end.

Just recently some­one asked me why I’ve been so adventurous and un­afraid. I had never really thought about it before but then it suddenly seemed very clear to me. It’s an unshakable knowledge given to me by my mother’s prayers that God is al­ways available when we need him. And no matter what happens, nothing can separate me from his goodness and love.