Terror at Night

July 23, 1978 – Midwest, USA

My apartment mate, Jane, and I drove separate cars to evening worship at church followed by a sweet time of fellowship at the Pastor’s house with the other young adults. Jane left a few minutes before me, so after arriving home, she left the front door unlocked for me, and then got in the shower. When I arrived home about 15 minutes later, I was puzzled to see our neighbors, Dave and Darlene, standing on our porch. I said, “Is there something wrong?” They replied, “We just heard Jane scream so we called the police! We’re trying to get inside to help her, but the door is locked! Can you unlock it?”

I took my house key with shaky hands and tried to put it in the lock. All of a sudden, the door was flung open, and a tall thin black man bolted through it with a butcher knife in his hand, shoved me down the three cement porch  steps, and went running off into the night. I quickly stood up and the three of us ran inside and screamed for Jane! “Is there anyone else upstairs, Jane? Are you OK?”

She replied, “I’m alone! I’m coming down.” She came down the stairs in her bathrobe and quickly told us he had grabbed her out of the shower and cut her legs with my kitchen butcher knife. When he demanded all her money, she emptied her wallet of the 5$ bill which was all she had. He grabbed her watch and then went running down the steps after he heard us outside. I cleaned and bandaged Jane’s cuts on her legs, and she got dressed.

The police finally arrived 30 minutes after our neighbors called them. They asked Jane and me to get in the back of the cruiser, so we could drive through the neighborhood to see if we could find the burglar, but we never did. We called Jane’s brother and my sister, (who were now engaged), and they called our Pastor. While awaiting for them to arrive, I took Jane to the emergency department to have the cuts on her legs sutured.

When Kevin, Linda, and our Pastor arrived, they read Psalm 56 and 37 to us and prayed with us. How God’s precious word comforted us!

“When I am afraid, I will trust in Thee. In God I will praise His word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.” Psalm 56:3-4

“The end of the wicked shall be cut off. But the salvation of the righteous is of the Lord; He is their strength in time of trouble. And the Lord shall help them, and deliver them; He shall deliver them from the wicked, and save them, because they trust in Him.” Psalm 37:38-40

We both called in sick the next morning because neither of us slept all night, and we needed to go to the police station to try and identify the burglar. The detective brought us dozens of mug shots to examine. After looking at about 500 photos, we picked out the six photos who looked most like him. Jane, of course, got a much better look at him than I did. At the end of the ordeal, we were both trembling uncontrollably from head to toe. The detective kindly volunteered to follow us home and search our apartment to see if he had returned.

He also told us that we lived in the neighborhood with the highest crime rate in the city, full of drug dealers and prostitutes. We were both so naive having grown up in the country where crime was practically nonexistent! Every one in the country left their doors unlocked at night, but we will never do it again, even for a minute! I also will never mount my knife rack on the kitchen wall! He advised us to move to a different neighborhood with a security system, which we did two months later.

Reflection – 2014

Belize dinner 1988

Dinner with the Medical team in Belize, 1988, before our nighttime scary walk to the Hotel.

In 1988, I went on a short-term medical mission trip to Belize (formerly British Honduras in Central America). Another nurse and I were assigned to a ramshackle hotel for our housing.  After we ate dinner with the medical team, we had to walk several city blocks in the dark to get to our hotel. About half way there, they had a power failure and all the streetlights went out leaving us in total darkness except for our tiny flashlight. When we arrived at our hotel, we ascended the outside steps to the second floor and had to walk down the narrow balcony which was lined with men leering at us. We both prayed silently and asked God to protect us while looking straight ahead.

When we arrived at our hotel door, we quickly went inside and bolted the door behind us. How we thanked God for delivering us! Then Jen shared with me how she had been brutally beaten by a robber in her home years before. I shared with her about the night Jane and I were attacked. We once again read Psalm 56 and 37 together followed by prayer in which we asked God to give us a quiet heart and put a hedge about us. I can’t say that either of us slept much that night because of the restaurant and reggae band blaring loud music beneath our bedroom, but God protected us!

Currently I work with many patients who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and struggle with nightmares and flashbacks. I remember it took me quite awhile to recover emotionally from the attack in 1978. But whenever I became afraid, I would read my Bible and ask God to comfort me, fix my mind and heart on Him, and He always did. It is also a great comfort to know that if someone kills me, I will immediately be transported into God’s wonderful presence for all eternity!

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

“For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.” II Corinthians 5:1

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