Friday, March 14, 2008

The Art of Presentation

My friend, Chris, and his wife, Ally, are ministers in Brazil. I was reading their blog and noticed the fine art of presentation at work: Chris is preaching in two towns blah- blah- blah . . . he's starting a new certificate program for people there blah- blah- blah . . . so-and-so was baptized blah- blah- blah . . . Two gunmen broke into our home and robbed us . . .

We also need to share something unpleasant that happened at the beginning of March. As we were arriving home after going to the mall on Saturday with Junior and Patricia and Ally’s other sister Priscila and her husband Jefferson, and Liduina, Ally’s mom, two guys pulled up to our house and held us at gunpoint. They forced us into the kitchen floor after taking all our wallets, cash, and wedding rings. One searched the house looking for cash while the other held us in the kitchen at gunpoint with their .22 revolver. After going through the house they began taking the microwave, TV, stereo, DVD player, and anything else they could find.
They continued to threaten us and ask for more cash. Patricia remembered her purse was in our bedroom and went in to get it, followed by the older one. She soon returned to the kitchen and joined us on the floor.

When Jonathan and Stephanie began to cry, the one with the gun began to threaten to shoot them in the head if they didn't shut up. Ally and Liduina did a great job keeping the kids calm. Jefferson at that point began to cry and moan as if he were really scared in order to take his attention off the kids. Jefferson is a trained actor, and did a great job. He then convinced them that there was a purse in his car. He led one outside to the cars, which were still parked outside the house with the gate open, all the while holding his hands in the air and begging the thief not to shoot. Even though he had no gun, he didn't think to ask Jefferson to stop. Jefferson opened all the car doors and let the guy search both vehicles, and then they returned inside. The one who was holding us with the gun told us that if we didn't give them more money in 30 seconds he would shoot someone.

Suddenly we heard scuffling noises and someone shouted “Police!” and I grabbed Ally and the kids and we all hit the deck in case there was going to be a shootout. The guy with the gun threw it on the ground and was tackled by two officers. Jefferson and Junior shouted that there was another, and the police searched the house and found him in our bedroom, unable to escape through the bars on the window.

The police took them into the living room and beat them for a few minutes before taking them to the cars. We began to calm down slowly. Liduina has high blood pressure and was suffering a lot. We made her lie down and tried to keep her calm.
We began to tell the police what had happened and what had been taken. They went to the thieves’ car and found everything there, plus a stash of cocaine the thieves had been using. One of them was 19 years old, the other 17.

The police beat them outside again after the youngest one told them he was a minor and would get off without doing time. Then they drove them off to the police station, followed by Jefferson and Junior who would make statements and bring the evidence home again. They arrived at about 5 am and told us the outcome. Both would go to jail for 2-4 years, one in Juvenile in São Vicente or Santos and the other in prison in Guarujá. Because they were caught in the act, in Brazil, there is no trial or wait time. The next day they stood before the judge and then were shipped off.
God was with us through the whole ordeal, which lasted about 45 minutes. We were amazed that the police arrived and caught them in the act, which is a very rare thing in Brazil. We asked them how they knew, and they told us that one of the neighbors was an angel and called them. As it turned out, the neighbors across the street heard the robbers yelling and saw what happened from the beginning, and called the police the whole time that we were held inside. Their names are Roberto and Elizabete. We believe that God will use what happened to bring us closer to this couple. They are wonderful neighbors and have a daughter that is 2 years old who is partially blind. We hope that through our growing relationship that we can help them see that God has a plan for everyone, o matter what the circumstance. We are forever in their debt for the help they gave us.

As we tried to calm down afterward, we realized how much God had been in control even as we feared the worst. Even though police procedure in a case like that is to wait outside and either negotiate or catch the bad guys, we were told later by one of the two officers who are evangelicals that when he saw the guy with the gun through our front window, they decided that they couldn't wait. They were very quick, secure, and professional. I don't think we could have had a better response even if we were in the states. Later the two christian officers came back by the house to make sure we were OK and answer any questions or concerns we had.

We continue to recover, and try to go on.

We were very blessed in that things ended up about as well as they could in a bad situation like that. Bad things happen to good and bad people alike, but the difference is that God is with those who believe in Him and in His power.
Wow! I am so relieved that they are all right, but they should have at least led with a teaser.

Hey Ty, Would you mind sending me the link to Chris and Ally's blog? Thanks brother.


Travis Coleman
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