August 1981, a few months after my high school graduation, I went on a mission trip to Brazil. The mission trip was important because I saw God work through me like never before. When I got home I asked God to do "whatever it took" to cause me to depend on Him like the missionaries I met in Brazil. I prayed and left it with God. Within 6 weeks he answered that prayer while I was at work at Leviah's Jewelry on Anderson Lane, in Austin, Texas. September 30, 1981, a man came into our store and when I opened the office door to go out and wait on him he was pointing a gun at me. He was wearing so canvas garden gloves and his teeth were all black. I was later told, by the police, that he was on speed, now called meth, and that the gun was a large caliber and fully automatic.
My boss, Brian Hoover, saw him come into the back of the store with me and knew that he didn't look like a friend so he set off a silent alarm. He timed his arrival to be during the shift change of the police department. So, when the police responded to the alarm they were not from our area and didn't know where our store was. While they were looking for the store the robber, Charles Willis, saw them and decided to take me as his hostage to get away. He had been in the store 20 minutes or so and there was 6 of us on the floor in the offices at that time. It was no accident that he chose me. As far as I know I was the only Christian in the store and I was praying hard for our safety. As soon as we exited the store we were confronted by 2 different officers and just like on tv the robber put the gun to my head threatening to kill me if they didn't drop their weapons. They quickly complied after seeing his state, the weapon, and the garden gloves. The then took me into the parking lot to find the car he had taken keys to from another hostage. We encountered a police officer there who was exiting his car with his shot gun in hand. He was a rookie cop and didn't follow prodcedure. He refused to put down his gun and the robber became extremely agitated. I thought the robber was going to kill me because I could feel his tension and the gun was pressing into my head. I can still feel it to this day. But, we serve an awesome God and in that same instant God gave me perfect peace. I literally felt Gods hand on my shoulder and heard Him speak to me. He said, I wasn't going to die that day. He said He had work for me to do. Gods message brought a calmness over me that is unexplainable.
The robbers next choice was to was to take the rookie cops police car to flee. He shoved me in and off we went. He thought it was really cool we could hear all the policemen over the cars' radio. He was elated when they brought in a helicopter to watch our flight. I don't know how long the chase went on but his driving was very irratic, it involved run stop signs, u-turns, and lots of noon time traffic. He ran over a curb at one point and the gun went off in the car. I remember thinking, God, you said I wasn't going to die but what about being shot? I looked down at myself to see if I was bleeding. I had no idea how it would feel to be shot. Finally, on Steck Ave. Officer Garcia, rammed the car to stop him. It didn't work, he tried to keep going and Officer Garcia had to hit him again. We were right in front of some friends house, just down the road from my church and the channel 24 tv station. It seemed no more than a instant and the car was surrounded by police officers with rifles. This terrified the robber. He kept telling me they were going to kill him. God gave me the grace to say to him that they didn't want to kill him, they just wanted him to let me go. Finally, after several officers trying to talk to him God sent a plain close Officer who was able to convince him to put down the gun and get out of the car. During all of the negotiations the gun had been pointed at my head again. The police told me they did consider shooting him but because of the gun, the gloves, and the speed he was on they were afraid his reflex could have killed me. Officer Stephens, got me out of the car. He was the first officer I had seen exiting the store. He was red headed and had a mustache. It's so crazy I can remember all these details because I can't remember half of the people I graduated high school with a few months earlier.
Officer Stephens took me to the police station for me to give my statement and call my parents. I didn't even know where the police station was! I was 18 years old and had no reason to know. Officer Stephens did his best to put me at ease until we were mobbed by the press at the police station. It was just like you see on tv with cameras and microphones in my face and they were yelling questions. I'm sure I was in shock and we gave no information to the press. I was very blessed because the press never even found out my name. Information wasn't as easy to get then as it is now.
So, after seeing all the press I was concerned about my parents hearing about what had happened on the radio because it was always on at their work places. I quickly called them and sat down to write out my statement. I have to say that calling my mom to tell her what had happened was one on the hardest things I had to do. ( We never called dad at work. ) How do you tell your parents you'd been a hostage in a robbery. It is not possible to explain the range of emotions I had that day. Like being inside and outside of your body all at the same time.
The story made the front page of the news paper and the evening news. There was film footage on tv and pictures in the news paper and the phone began to ring after every broadcast. The article in the Austin American Stateman quoted the police saying, "I lived because I was calm." The officers I spoke to over the next several days told me they had never seen anything like my me. That they kept hovering around me at the station waiting for me to collapse in hysterics but I never did. Gods gift of peace kept me composed and calm. That was my first opportunity to share about what God had done and the reason I was so calm. I wrote them a letter and baked a cake and delivered them to the police station, thanking them for all they had done for me, letting them know God was the reason for the outcome of the ordeal. When I heard Gods voice, I knew Him and His presence brought my peace.
It was never explained but thy found more bullets in the door than I heard fired. Maybe in heaven we will understand that. Also, God had provided such a hedge of prayer for me. With in one block of where the police crashed into the robber there were six people from my church who told me they didn't know what was going on but they were praying for whatever it was. God had provided for my every need and I will never live another day without the knowledge of Gods presence and provision. I was the only person in the store that day who could have had the peace of God. My co-workers knew about God, I had told them, but they didn't feel the need of God.
My testimony is this. I know that God is real. I have heard His voice and felt His touch, His presence, and His peace. He loves ALL of us He made us. He desires a relationship with each of us. HE is ALL we need. It is our choice to begin this relationship and we need to do it before we need it so that we will know Him when He speaks to us. You can absolutely trust him every time, all of the time! He takes care of me every day and He will be there for you, where ever you are, when you need Him too. All you have to do is ask Him to come into your life, forgive your screw ups, and be you savior.
Romans 3:10 There is no one righteous, not even one.
Romans 2:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Acts 3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.
Romans 10:9-10, 13 If you confess with your mouth, "Jesusis Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
If you are a woman and need someone to talk to you may call me, Donna. I'll be your friend. 325-280-5458.