The following story, which was sent to Michelle Wallace by email, occurred March 18. Bonnie Teachout, a missionary and an incredible woman of God, will admit she has been messed-up, crushed, broken and now, made over by God’s grace. Bonnie offers a quote from Tozer that best describes what He has done in her life: “God plants His dream in a person’s heart and then molds the person to fit the dream. Even though the molding process seems to contradict the promise, the day comes when God moves His prepared person into His prepared place…and the dream becomes reality.” Bonnie’s story is a bit longer than the average Fruit of the Vine. However, as you read you’ll understand that the power and glory of God is woven in every detail, every word divine.
You asked me to tell you what happened last Friday night and it took me a day or two to process and write it down. I pray when you read this you will fall to your knees and thank God, as I do every time I think back to what he did. My puny words fail to accurately describe how I feel about Him. I will just tell you what happened as best I can.
I have a chain that was given to me in Israel by God through a shopkeeper. On it is my promise from the Lord: “When you go to the left or the right, your ears will hear a voice saying ‘This is the way,’ walk in it.”(Isaiah 30:21) I never take it off. It is my proof that I am where He wants me; that He sends me where He needs me to go.
Friday, I was getting ready for the day in the office at the HEA mission center, after which I would take a bus to Coatzacoalcos, a city about five to six hours away in Veracruz, Mexico where I grew up and my parents ministered. As I was drying my hair I heard in my spirit “Take off the chain, don’t wear it tonight.” As I reached up to take it off, I wondered why and the voice came again “Leave the chain, take my promise.”
Later as I slipped on sandals, there was that voice in my mind again: “You will need more than that. Thick socks. Tennis shoes.”
I could have wondered, but for some reason, I didn’t. The entire day I was following instructions from Him. I finished my work and prepared to leave. Once on the bus at 6:30 in the evening, I reached for my throat where I usually wear my chain and thought of those words: “Leave the chain, take my promise.”
I sat in the seat to the right of the bus driver, by the door. After an hour or so it grew dark and I began to listen to Francis Chan’s sermon: Crazy Love. I rested and closed my eyes as I listened. About 9 p.m. the bus was silent as everyone seemed to doze and I heard Chan say: “If I really believe that God values, treasures others, wouldn’t my life be about giving away all I have and even dying so they can hear His message? Do I believe Romans 8, that God Himself lives inside of me and I am different from the people on the earth? That I must be radically different because this is His reputation, and I have this supernatural being in me … would I even be afraid of dying, if I truly believed this, so that others would know Him and spend eternity with Him?”
That’s when I heard the Lord say “My child, it’s time. And I am with you.”
I sat up quickly, pulled out my earpieces and looked out the window. The night exploded into lights and I heard Pop! Pop! Pop! I realized our bus was being shot at—heard the glass of the bus door shatter, felt the shards as they covered us and felt the swerve of the bus as the driver tried to control it. I turned to the lady next to me, woke her up and said, “We are being held up but God is with us. Spread the word.” Women were screaming while the men climbing on board yelled, “This is a hold-up. We will not kill you if you do as we say.” It was an explosion of sound and assault. Faces covered by scarves, the men began tearing at our jewelry, watches, grabbing our purses, thrusting their hands down our blouses to search for money. With guns waving, they pulled the bus driver out of his seat, driving the bus into the bush, past trees, down deep into a ravine and up about two kilometers into tall grass and trees. Men yelled, women sobbed, two babies on board were screaming.
All the while, inside of me, peace. A knowing that He is there. This is what you meant all day, Jesus. That I am not lost somewhere; you know where I am and I am safely in the palm of your precious hand.
The bus careened to a stop. As I searched for my wallet to give them my money, they tore off my earrings and screamed, then poked to see if I had more. And I heard the Lord, very distinctly: “Say yes, say yes, say yes. I will tell you when it is time to say no. I am with you now and I will be with you then.”
The men were going through the bus dumping out backpacks to fill them with whatever they wanted of value, cell phones, money, jewelry, cameras. Pretty soon a big guy with a black bandanna around his face told all the men to get up and go out and all the male passengers followed them out. I couldn’t see what was happening outside. I heard one man grunt in pain; I assume they hit him when he didn’t do what they said quickly enough. I heard a gunshot and prayed it was a warning and no one got shot. Eventually they told all the women to get up and leave the bus. We stood in front of the bus in the lights and could see the male passengers, hands on the bus, spread-eagled. They pushed us down into the dirt, made us lie down, faces in the dirt, hands at our necks. They frisked us and, as they did, the girl next to me began to throw up. “Calm down,” I said. “Don’t draw attention to yourself.”
“I’m pregnant,” she moaned. “I can’t stop as long as I am lying on my stomach.”
I raised my head and told the two men with the guns on us, “She’s pregnant. Will you let us get up and hold our hands behind our head? She could choke.” After much swearing, they allowed all the women to get up as long as we held our hands on the backs of our necks.
I felt better. We could breathe.
The moon was amazing; we were glowing in the moonlight.
“Time to speak,” God said to me.
They ran over to the male passengers. Someone had tried to run, so they made the men undress from the waist down to keep them from running. You could hear them kicking the man who tried to run. Women were still sobbing.
“Time to speak.”
“Do you see the moon? It is amazing!” I said to the women. “We didn’t know we would be here tonight but He knew and He prepared this place for us, and gave us this amazing light.”
“He is up there, looking down on us,” one of the women said.
“No, that’s the best part. He is right here, in some of us and walking through and around us.” We had our hands on the backs of our neck, guns pointed at us; I began to pray out loud, for His protection, for the protection of His blood over each and every person there. Over and over again I prayed for His peace, peace that only He can give, and His blood around us, protecting us. Someone started singing down the line, a Catholic song, most joined in. Someone said a Hail Mary.
“Pray for the men.”
(Gulp.) Really, Lord?
“Do you believe me? Pray for those who persecute you.”
I looked toward the three men in front of us, holding guns on us and began to pray for them aloud. I prayed that God would have mercy on them, no matter what they did this night. As I prayed, l began to love them and I knew it was Jesus loving them through me. I prayed, “It was never supposed to be like this, God. You wanted us to have a relationship with you, but we sinned, and the bond was broken. And you sent your son, Jesus, to die for our sins, mine and theirs, to pay the price … You have a plan for these men and this is not it. Even at this moment you love them and you are making sure I say it so that they hear it. You are knocking on the door of their hearts and all they have to do is say yes to you, and they will be forgiven and be set free from this life of sin.”
Once I was done praying this way for the first man, I did the same for the second man, “Father, I ask for the man with the blue shirt, I ask for mercy and blessings for him and his family. You want him to know you love him and you have a plan for his life. That it was never supposed to be this way …”
When I got to the third man, he got mad and yelled, “Don’t pray for me!” Then he got back on the bus to help the others as they ransacked everything. I kept praying, three times, in prayer, the entire plan of salvation was laid out. And, everyone heard—the male passengers still standing on the side of the bus with their arms on the bus, the men guarding them, and the ones guarding us.
The man in the gray bandanna, who told me not to pray, came back off the bus and screamed at me, “I told you to stop!” And I did.
Then he pointed his gun at the women and said, “Undress, all of you, everything off.”
“It’s time to say ‘No.’ I am with you.”
I took about a half-step forward and said, “We aren’t going to do that. We have cooperated fully in everything you asked, we have given you everything we have but won’t undress.”
He screamed at us, “Take off your clothes!” I heard sobbing behind me, pleading.
I said, “No, we aren’t going to do that.”
He grabbed my hair on the right side of my head and pulled, then put his gun under my chin and screamed, “Get undressed or I will kill this woman.”
Someone behind me began to pray out loud.
I said, “No, don’t. God says we don’t have to do that. Don’t do it.” Calmly. Firmly. (Those who know me well know how amazing that is! Supernatural grace.)
He let go of my hair and held the gun with both hands, pushing it under my jaw with fury. He was shorter than I am and held my head way back so I looked in his eyes. Sweat poured down his face into the bandanna, and he screamed, “I will kill you right now!”
“My life doesn’t belong to you, it is God’s, and only He can take it. God told me to say no and that He would take care of me,” I said.
The man was screaming something and I heard a whisper: “Watch me.”
I remember a chill running through my body. I remember thinking: This is it. I will either see the hand of God in a miracle, or in seconds I will be looking into the precious face of my Jesus.
As I write this, this is the only part of the story that makes me weep. I knew I was a second away from being face to face with Jesus. In spite of all the evil around me, that moment was unbearably precious.
He glared at me and I heard the gun click and push hard against my jaw. And nothing else.
His fury seemed to turn to terror. He pulled the bandanna off his face and examined the gun over and over again to see why there had been no shot. While he was doing that, the big man in the black scarf heard what was going on and stormed off the bus, roaring like a bull. “No seas cochino!” he yelled. “Don’t be a pig! I told you to check the women. I didn’t tell you to undress anyone, and I never said you could kill anyone!” He pushed him away, backhanded him and the man fell back. As he did, a shot rang out, hitting no one. It was as if a line had been drawn by the Holy Spirit, past which they could not cross.
I told the men, “You can check us but don’t get funny. We have given you everything we have. There’s no need to insult us any further.” They nodded and began checking pockets but never touched us as they had been trying to do earlier. When my turn came, none of them would, so I turned my pockets inside out so they could see they were empty.
The big man said to me, “You can get on the bus now.” I told him I would be last, after all the women. I asked him to please return all the clothes to the male passengers on the side of the bus. He nodded and went to tell someone to do that. We got on the bus, and they told us to wait 10 minutes before backing out, down the mountain. The bus driver waited half an hour, and it took us about another half hour to back out. At one point it was so steep and dark that most of us (those who could) got out, lessening the weight of the bus.
As we did, the women were telling their husbands that God had saved them from having to take off their clothes and perhaps being raped; that God had spared my life and the gun hadn’t worked. “Did you know we prayed for mercy for them?” I heard them ask. “Did you know God has a plan for our lives and even for theirs? Tell them about God’s plan,” they told me.
When we got on the bus I prayed with many of them to accept Jesus, and together we prayed for each of the seven men who had attacked us.
When I calmly relayed what happened to the police a couple of hours later, one said, “I believe you are in shock.”
Later, when I told part of my family over the phone, I was calm and clear and I thought: Maybe I am in shock. Four days later I know the truth—I am walking in grace. When He gives you grace, you don’t need courage because there is no fear. I’m in grace and in awe of a God who cares about such details as my Israel necklace, reminds me of His promises, walks with me, talks to me and stops bullets when He decides.
I lost my iPad, iPhone, iPod, all the money I had with me, digital camera, etc. In the place of my possessions, I have a new awe of God. Words fail me to describe the sweetness of His presence and the far-reaching consequences of His grace. For years I have said I live and walk in a miracle and today, I know I am a miracle.
I must also admit I have a new longing. The one to see Him face to face as I briefly thought I would the other night. I know that one day I will. In the meantime, He has called us all to be His light in the darkness. We are the element of change in this world. We walk in His promise that we will walk in the world but not be of the world, and that we will be protected from the evil one:
John 17:15-19, Jesus’ prayer for us:
My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect
them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it.
Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the
world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that
they too may be truly sanctified.
I pray as you read this you are touched with the awe and wonder I have been living in since that night. God shows up. He still shows up. He has an amazing plan and, even though He doesn’t have to, He still uses humans to accomplish it. I am in awe of this privilege!
Thank you for your love and your support, and for making it this far in a long story. How can I NOT proclaim His wonders?
Fully His and in absolute awe of what He’s doing,
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures
forever. Do not abandon the works of your hands.