But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch of the night the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. (Matthew 24:43 WEB)
One year just before our furlough we were busy with church services, special music and making preparations to visit family, church and friends in the USA. We were excited about our ministry. We gathered listener letters to share, culled through our photographs and slides and organized our travel plans.
I remember spending weeks picking slides, borrowing slides, and writing a script. We wanted to express the work of God through the ministry. We wanted to show our personal involvement in God’s work. We asked colleagues to read letters, with appropriate accents of course, and operate the recording studio. The operation cost us a few cookies and cans of soda! Missionaries will do just about anything for a good bag of cookies and cold drink. This was the age of the missionary slide show. Today it is Power Point and videos or DVDs.
DVDs were not available to the general public during those years. However, videos were becoming affordable and rental shops were opening even on Guam. Three days before our departure we borrowed a colleague’s video player then a couple videos from another friend and scheduled a evenings to rest, relax and enjoy the high-tech entertainment with Ellice and Joel. We worked on cleaning and preparing the house during the day and watching a video at night. This may have been the start of our famous Friday video and pizza nights.
Sunday came around and we jumped into the church services with enthusiasm. This Sunday we shared a little of our ministry, went to lunch with friends, visited others during the afternoon and then returned for the evening service to sing in a quartet. When we finally reached our home we were tired, very tired.
Ellice and Joel struggled to stay awake long enough to change into pajamas and crawl into their beds. They were asleep before we finished kissing them goodnight and leaving their rooms. Beth and I went through our routine lock up procedure and headed to the bedroom.
I deposited my pants on the chair beside the bed, we brushed, cleaned and climbed into bed. It was about twenty seconds before we were both deep in sleep. Our sleep was so deep I don’t remember dreaming, just waking up the next morning ready to finish our packing. We were scheduled to depart that evening.
In the morning I reached for my pants and noticed my wallet sitting on top. I thought, “how curious” and then dressed. Wandering down the hall to the living room I thought it odd the front door was open. I glanced in the children’s rooms and they were still asleep. Beth was comfortable in our bed. Suddenly I realized things weren’t right.
Cautiously I walked back into the living room and looked around. Something was wrong but I couldn’t put my finger on the problem. Slowly I began an inventory of the room until my eyes rested on the cabinet between the living and dining room.
My radio receiver was where I left it. But the new stereo was gone! Our TV was still there but the borrowed Video Player was gone! I began to shake with the realization we were robbed while asleep in our own home.
I surveyed the front rooms and found the kitchen window screen was slit where the burglars entered the house. Apparently we missed this window in our late night, tired, lockup procedure. I woke Beth up and explained what happened. We were both shaken by the experience. We called the police.
With more precision and detail than I expected, the Guam Police Department came, took finger prints and our detailed report including serial numbers and descriptions. They were relieved to discover only a few items taken.
One officer turned to us and said, “I’m glad you didn’t wake up while they were in the house.”
I gave him a quizzical look and asked, “Why?”
“Because,” he replied directly, “if they were confident enough to break in while you were home they were probably armed. Most thefts on the island are by teenagers who only break into empty homes. When someone breaks into a house where people are sleeping they are very dangerous.”
The Lord worked overtime to protect us by providing a busy schedule. Suddenly I remembered my wallet on top of my pants. I extracted it from my pocket and looked inside.
The credit cards, bank cards, photos and miscellaneous items were still inside but, sure enough, the cash was gone. About $100 in cash was taken directly from my wallet less than two feet from where I was sound asleep and I didn’t hear a thing. Praise the Lord for keeping our eyes and ears shut throughout that night.
We never recovered the money, stereo or video player. It was several years before we could afford to replace them. It was also years before we felt completely safe in our own home at night. Our lockup procedure was carefully followed each evening and then the house checked each morning.
The thieves never returned. Slowly we learned to leave the feelings of invasion behind us. The event had shaken our confidence and feeling of security. Through the break-in God taught us His love and care and protection were beyond anything we could imagine.