We all love to hear of God working in ordinary people’s lives – it builds our faith and energizes us, doesn’t it? Whether He is providing, protecting, directing, healing or surprising us – each circumstance reminds us that He is always at work around us. Always. No matter where we are, no matter what has happened and no matter what time it is – He is always working on our behalf!
The following story is told to remind us that God is in the details. He never, ever, not even for a second leaves us high and dry. It’s not in His nature – He loves us way too very much – more than we can even begin to imagine!
When Elizabeth and I were in Uganda for the delivery of Emma and Josh’s newest little one we spent the last day with Josh and Emma and their treasures doing some errands downtown and having lunch out. After dinner Josh ran Elizabeth and I over to say goodbye to the Gems. It is always hard to say goodbye to the Gems, especially knowing, in the past, I’ve hugged some and before returning a few months later they had slipped away to meet Jesus. Anyone who has been on a GO Team readily admits – the Gems steal your heart. They are the sweetest little people around and a privilege to be with!
Anyway, after Elizabeth and I hugged Gems and said goodbye we ran back to their home where I whipped together Emma’s favorite dessert to leave for them. Then a quick shower and it was the dreaded time to love on Emma and the kids and head to the airport with Josh. We had had so much fun together! Playing games at night, talking, sharing hearts, dreaming and enjoying baby Lincoln! As we hugged Emma goodbye was almost painful. New baby, gobs of responsibility, continents away…I sobbed, Emma sobbed, Beth’s tears were streaming – it was just so hard.
Loaded into their car we locked up their compound and headed out. All the streets of Kampala were backed up (they always are!) with so much traffic that it took awhile to maneuver our way over to the new expressway. Once on the expressway and heading toward Entebbe airport, the lights of Kampala faded. The expressway stretches across the countryside of Uganda connecting Kampala and Entebbe and avoiding the villages. It is pitch dark with no overhead lights and since bodas (motorcycles usually carrying people) are not allowed one finds only trucks and cars whizzing by.
Out of nowhere we heard a loud thunking noise that almost sounded like we had a flat. Josh immediately pulled over onto the shoulder. With the light from his cell phone he headed around the car checking each tire. He jumped back in the car as he said, “Weird, but none of the tires look flat.” And we were off again.
A few miles up the road the car began “thudding” again. He immediately pulled over as a few cars and trucks sped by on the relatively desolate road. Josh went around the car with his cell phone light once again and checked the tires. Unable to see anything unusual, he hopped back in the car. He commented hesitantly, “Maybe it’s just the road.”
Once back up to speed and driving, the thudding began and with no warning, out of nowhere we heard the loudest screeching crash! I glanced in my sideview mirror to where the sound was coming from and saw an enormous burst of sparks flying heavenward as the shrieking sound of metal grinding filled the night air. It was truly terrifying and I couldn’t even begin to imagine what was happening! Josh was gripping the wheel as he brought the car to a stop and to our shock we saw one of our tires rolling down a few hundred feet in front of us! The tire had literally come off the car! I was shaking like crazy!
As I think about those moments, it was only God’s grace that spared us. I since have done some investigating and found that hundreds of people are killed or seriously injured each year when a tire comes off a car. Oh friends, it could have turned so much different! God was so merciful to us.
I was able to get Josh’s cell phone to open a hotspot and I phoned Dw and asked him to pray. I even was able to get on FB and ask for prayer. It was so scary to be on the side of the road, with only three wheels in the dark of night with cars and trucks speeding by.
My hardworking son-in-love had already been up since 4:00am when the Gem had woke them as one of the Gems needed to be rushed to the hospital. Josh had also spent the day with us running necessary errands and now he was figuring out how to get the tire back on and us to the airport to catch our flight in time.
Without any delay he ran down the highway to get the tire and brought it back. The tire wasn’t flat at all. It turns out that someone had helped themselves to most of the lug nuts that would typically hold it on. Josh guessed theywere taken most likely while he was at the hospital in the early morning hours. Riding around the city in bumper to bumper traffic the tire had remained on. But with only two remaining lug nuts the speed of the car on the expressway had shimmied the tire off.
By God’s grace, they had a spare with some lug nuts on it…and Josh worked hard to get the car jacked up and the tire back on. Josh actually ran down the highway to see how far we had slid on three wheels. He estimated it to be about 100 feet! It could have turned out so differently. It truly was a miracle!
Because of the crash itself the axel was compromised yet he was able to get the tire back on and again, by God’s grace we “limped” to the next exit and into a gas station. As we went Josh thought he remembered that their friend from EMI (the missionary architects drawing up the plans and overseeing the building of Gem Village) used to live near this area. So once at the gas station Josh called their friend. Although the friend had recently moved to the other side of Kampala, he knew a driver in the area who he was able to call and send to us.
Now truthfully I imagined that being it was already late at night, the car was broken far from Kampala, that Josh would get Elizabeth and I into the new driver’s car and send us on our way to the airport and I wouldn’t have blamed him or thought anything. However he completely surprised me when he said, “No, I’m making sure you get there safe and catch your flight!” My eyes well as I type. This son is such a thoughtful, caring treasure.
On a side note, just a few hours earlier, when Josh was driving Elizabeth and I back from The Gem I had felt compelled to tell him (again!) how very grateful I am that God brought he and Emma together. They are an incredibly amazing team. He works so hard right alongside her and the best part is – he makes her laugh. They both have such a good sense of humor – and with so much heartache, grief and loss much of the time – they have to be able to have fun together. Together they love others so generously. I also told him how proud I am of his diligence. He is such a hard worker. One day we stopped at the Gem in the middle of a Sunday afternoon. Emma had to drop something off and I stood in awe as I turned to see that Josh had grabbed some tools and was working on some broken wheelchairs. It was “the day of rest” yet he knew they needed repairs and was seizing the spare moments while Emma dropped something off and talked to the staff.
Now waiting at the gas station for the driver we wondered – would we make the flight? Uganda “shuts the door” one hour before the flight. It was going to be very, very close! Once the new driver arrived, we threw our bags in the back of his van and we were off! And honestly, I was still shaking from the accident.
When we reached the airport it was still really close. Would they let us in? Josh ran out in front with our suitcases to get to the door first in case he had to plead that we were coming. (It’s a huge hill that you have to climb to get to the airport door and this mama is not fast climbing steep hills!) Elizabeth and I got to the door of the airport and literally had ONE MINUTE until they closed it. That was it. One minute – only by God’s grace. (Of course missing it and staying on in Uganda wouldn’t have been all bad – ha!) I hugged this son so tight and told him again how much I loved him.
Later Emma was so sober when she commented, “I could have lost you all.” Truly, God’s grace. We have a little tire in our Memorial Box to remind us of the day God spared the three of us in a very powerful way – we weren’t even injured – not even a speck!
In fact if you don’t make a habit of praying for missionaries, I encourage you to start! Missionaries around the world face things that most of us have no clue of. As I type this Josh and Emma have been at the hospital for the third time in two weeks. Josh has been very sick and has been being treated for parasites but still was not better. Now just moments ago they diagnosed him with another very rare parasite. Emma had been researching and wondered if this was what he might have. Trust me, he has been very sick and actually slept through his birthday Sunday, unable to do anything.
Lastly, it would so wonderful if you my friends, would wish him a Happy Birthday from all over the world! Please pray for his healing…and if you are wishing him a Happy Birthday – please tell us what state or country you are in! I know he and Emma would both enjoy hearing from you all – and that you are praying!