The police are at the door, and Tony is sure he’ll be arrested. He and his friends do their best to destroy any evidence of the Christian group that was meeting while others try to distract and keep the police out. All Tony can do is pray. What happens next is what can only be explained as a series of miracles.
Podcast read by Bret Layton, vice president of Advancement and Church Relations.
A Phone Call from God
By Tony Lee
*This incident took place during a training trip in a creative access area.
We arrived at our site around 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. Although it was after dark, we still had to walk down a couple of short alleys, and because we weren’t 100 percent sure of the location, BH (the leader of this group) yelled to us to get our attention. A lady who was standing on the corner noticed us at that time, but they felt that it really wasn’t a problem.
The place where we were going to be had five floors and was in town. The three of us teachers were staying on the third floor, and the training room was on the fourth floor.
The first day and a half went well, but at the end of the rest time on the second day, CL miraculously got a text message from our two coworkers who were training in a different province informing us that they had both been arrested and had already been in jail for two days! We were obviously concerned for them, but we didn’t know any details about their situation. As we prayed for them, we also prayed for wisdom to know what WE should do as well. Would their situation impact us? If so, how and when? Our concern was that CL had had frequent phone contact with both of them over the last week, and if the police started to compare phone logs, it might affect us even though we were a long distance away. We started to discuss our different options and scenarios, but then decided that we would go ahead and teach the next class and discuss it at the next break.
As I was teaching the afternoon lesson, CL went out on the public phone to try to call our coworkers or someone else from that area, but all of their phones were off. He was finally able to make contact with someone there, and she said that the police had completely surrounded the training site and arrested all 35+ people…no one escaped!
After teaching, I quickly went down to the third floor to continue our discussion and pray about what we should do. In the middle of our discussion, the hostess came in and told us that three policemen were downstairs wanting to come in to search the place. (We later found out that this was completely unrelated to the other situation.) They said they were searching door to door for a criminal. (We also found out later that this was not true. It was just an excuse to search the place because that neighbor lady had reported seeing “a foreigner” so they were coming to check it out.)
After telling us about the situation, the hostess went back down to try to persuade them to come back tomorrow instead because “her son and husband weren’t home at the time.” But the more she tried to keep them from coming in, the more they insisted!
Immediately after she left, I remembered that my backpack with my passport, money, tickets, etc. and my Bible were still upstairs on the fourth floor. I was frustrated because I always, ALWAYS carry it with me no matter where I go, but this time, because of the rush of getting back down to discuss, I had inadvertently left it right by the door in the training room. I asked JB if he could run up quickly to get it since everything valuable was in THAT bag! As he opened the door and took one step, someone pushed him back in and told him to lock the door because the police were coming up the stairs!
We immediately began crying out to God AND also shredding any incriminating evidence. CL even hid his phone chip in the sole of his shoe! He later told me he really felt like this time arrest was inevitable, and we needed to destroy all possible evidence!
As I prayed, I prayed very specifically! The first was for God’s protection. I especially prayed three different biblical scenarios. I prayed that God would either: 1. Blind the eyes of the seeing (the opposite of Jesus’ miracles), 2. Post guardian angels outside the door like at the Garden of Eden, or 3. Put a cloud between us and them like He had when the Egyptians chased the Israelites when they left Egypt and got to the Red Sea.
The second thing that I prayed for was that God would remind people to be praying for me! I asked God specifically that He would wake up my prayer warriors in the U.S. and get them on their knees in our behalf! I also asked Him to remind people around the world and especially at home to be praying (this all started around 4:30-5:00 p.m.) I asked God to especially let M. know so that she could be praying for me!
The police came in and started searching the roof. When they got to the fourth floor, they found all of our students. The police started questioning them. A lady who was really quick on her feet told them that she had a farm outside of town and that she had gathered these people here because she was going to hire them to work her farm. Miraculously, they believed her! This was the first of several incredible miracles.
The police then decided to just register all of them, but because they all denied having their ID cards with them (which is highly improbable), they decided to just record their names. Miraculously, they did not press them to produce their IDs! Therefore, many of them gave false names. One brother in particular was especially concerned because he had just been released from a nine-month jail term LAST month. The other miracle was they did not see my backpack that was right in the doorway!
They then proceeded down to the third floor (which is where we were at), and I heard them talking right outside the door. But the AMAZING thing was that they never knocked on the door or asked the owner to open the door or anything! It was as if our door just did not exist. I don’t know if God blinded their eyes, put angels at the doorway, or put a cloud in front, but either way, it was INCREDIBLE! Before leaving, they searched the entire house EXCEPT for the third floor room where we were! Since they never saw any “foreigners,” the neighbor lady’s credibility was basically discredited.
Since my coworkers and the others there were concerned that the police would leave and come back later “in force,” they felt that it was critical to get me offsite even though it was still light outside. So, they backed up a covered three-wheel cart to the doorway, I snuck into the back, and off we went to the train station. CL and JB followed shortly afterward, and the rest of the people left as soon as it was possible without drawing attention to themselves.
When I got to the train station, I bought my ticket and then waited for “the first train out of town.” I decided to call M. at this point to let her know what was happening and to tell her to be praying. So at 5:50 p.m., I called home, but no one was home yet. So, I just left a message on the answering machine and told her to call me AS SOON AS she got home! I thought she would be back any minute from picking up the girls at school. But by 6:10 p.m., she still had not called. So I did something that I had never done before: I called her cell phone from MY cell phone using my local SIM card.
When she looked at the phone, it showed a call from “private number,” because I was calling on my local number (which I put into my cell phone when I entered the country, replacing my “home” cell number). When she answered, I asked her where she was, and she said that she was just parking the van at the house. I told her to call me back immediately when she got into the house. When she called, I told her about the situation, gave her a list of things to do, and told her to be “thinking about me!”
About 7:15 or so, CL text messaged me (because we were pretending not to know each other at this point) and told me that all of our friends who had been arrested had been released and everyone at our place had gotten out safely too! I immediately made another quick call to M. on her cell phone (about 7:30 ish—this was the second call I made to her cell phone), because I wanted her to have the most recent update.
The next day, I made my way back home and arrived about 1:30 or 2:00 a.m. When I crawled into bed, M. woke up, and I told her the whole situation since she had only heard bits and pieces of it, AND it was in code.
The next morning, M. said to me that something didn’t add up. She asked me about my first call to her on her cell phone. I told her that I had made a total of three calls: my first call was to the house when I left a message on the answering machine, the second was to her cell phone when she was parking the van, and the third was to her cell phone at the Bible study. But she insisted that I had made an earlier call on her cell phone. She said that as she was getting into the van after school to go to the market, her cell phone rang. When she answered it, she heard MY voice saying to her that “all of the people at ____ had been hospitalized (arrested), but that I needed to go because there were doctors (policemen) right outside my window (although it was actually the door).” And then I hung up. I told her, “Honey! I did NOT call you! How could I dare risk making a phone call when the police were right outside my door anyway!” (Besides, my home cell phone card was in my backpack, which was on the fourth floor at that time!) But she insisted that I had. She said that she heard MY voice and everything!
I got her cell phone out and checked the registry. When I looked at the “received calls,” there was a phone call at 5:06 p.m.—and it was from TONY! But the only way that it would come up as “Tony” (versus a “private number” as it did the other two times that I DID call her) was because THAT was the number that was in her cell phone. But the number in her cell phone was my HOME CELL PHONE number! I never once put my HOME SIM card in my cell phone the entire time I was out of the country! God (or His angel) actually called M. on her cell phone to let her know that she needed to be praying for me! How incredible is THAT! God is so amazing! Thank, You, Lord Jesus!
ACT: Through prayer, God can do miracles, like protecting our missionaries on the field from what seemed to be certain arrest and imprisonment. Today, please pray for a creative access missionary. Give him/her a pen name to bring a sense of reality to a person who cannot share his/her name or face.