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Trust in the Lord

The following is the 'talk' I made at Eastwood Baptist Church in Haughton, Louisiana on January 27, 1991. This was the first of many. I was invited to share this testimony at other churches in the area...and it was the very least I could do in gratitude to all who prayed for our safety.

Thank you for inviting me here today to your homecoming service. Indeed, I can relate to homecomings. I returned home just over four months ago from Kuwait after an experience that will never be forgotten.

Mike was so pleased, after our 20 year marriage, to take his American family to visit his native land and meet his Kuwaiti family. This well-planned, long anticipated vacation was intended to last three weeks...three long weeks for our 18-year old daughter, Millie, who we literally forced to go. Those three weeks ran well into eight weeks.

In Kuwait, Michael, our 14-year old son, made friends quickly. Millie, however, went into a social coma that lasted four days. Mike and I had almost decided to fly her back home until she realized that the country that she described as being stuck in the 17th Century, may have some possibilities. She discovered that teenagers had a multitude of similarities, no matter where in the world they were.

The first eight days were very busy...meeting family members, touring the beautiful, modern city, shopping, and eating delicious Arabian meals. We were all amazed at the modern shopping centers, the magnificent homes, and the extreme wealth of Kuwait and its' citizens.

The streets were constantly filled with cars whizzing to and fro and frequent sounds of honking horns. If you could see the manner in which they drove, you wouldn't have to wonder why horns were always honking. I survived not only the invasion of Kuwait, but also the drivers there. That alone was a miracle.

On the morning of August 2, we were awakened by the sounds of helicopters and planes flying low above the homes. Gunfire was heard throughout the city and bomb explosions echoed all around. Drowsily, I got out of bed and bravely peered out the window. As Michael and I looked toward the sky, two small fighter planes were in combat several hundred yards directly above us. Only seconds after they flew out of our view, we heard a loud explosion, then a crash. The ground trembled...the windows rattled.

Mike and the kids jumped into the car and followed the smoke until they found the crashed aircraft, less than two blocks from the home. A Kuwaiti plane had shot an Iraqi helicopter down, and fortunately, the plane fell onto a vacant lot in a heavily populated residential area of Kuwait City. When they returned, we were informed about the invasion from bits and pieces of information they had gathered at the site of the crash.

All these events took place so quickly. I immediately began to pray and ask the Lord to protect us. I suddenly felt a sense of peace envelop me. I remember thinking, "I don't know anything about what is happening to us, but this one thing I do know--God is in complete control." "...the peace that passeth all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Phil. 4:7b).

I assured the kids that everything was going to be alright. I told them not to worry; that God would protect us. I could feel the presence of the Lord so strongly.

I remembered a Bible verse, "In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." (I Thess. 5:18). I didn't know at that point what I was to be thankful for, but I knew this verse was a command and very imperative. I began thanking God, not knowing why, but sure that He was aready working in my life.

In the days ahead, we watched as the once peaceful, little country of Kuwait, turned to fear and frustration. God had given me assurance that He was going to take care of us. For that reason, I was able to maintain a joyful attitude. Just knowing that God was in control brought great comfort.

Before the invasion, the Moslems were devout to their prayer times. Five times daily, loud speakers could be heard throughout the city calling believers to pray. At those times, regular television programming was interrupted until all prayer times had ended.

At the beginning of each prayer, all Moslems would wash their faces, hands, and feet in preparation for prayers. They believed cleanliness displayed their reverence to God before entering into His holy presence. I wondered how many times I would pray if I had to go through those preliminary actions. They would certainly lose me on the first prayer of the day, since it was at 4:00 a.m.

I felt proud (not a good expression) that I could go to the Lord in prayer at anytime...anywhere. I was also aware that all the soap and water in the world could not prepare me to enter into the holy presence of my Savior. However, I was certain that Christ's shed blood had cleansed me and had given me the wonderful privilege of remaining there.

Day after day passed, and prayer after prayer was prayed in the family home. I would look into their long, sad, and worried faces and pray that God would give them comfort. Mike knew I was praying in my 'Christian way,' as he called it. He also saw the joy, comfort, and peace that I was experiencing, but he thought I was crazy and had totally gone off the deep end.

The days moved slowly. August 16, the day we had planned to leave Kuwait came...and went.

Before our vacation began, we had made preparations for all our financial obligations to be paid while we were gone. After August 21, many bills were due to be paid again. Being thousands of miles away made it impossible to meet those obligations. I began to worry, afraid they would turn off our utilities, causing items in the freezer to spoil. I thought of all the things I could think of to worry about. I was beginning to lose my joy and peace. I remembered Philippians 4:6..."Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God." J. Vernon McGee, my favorite theologian paraphrases that verse..."Worry about nothing, pray about everything."

I did pray about this huge burden, and realized that nothing was too big for God to handle. I asked Him to lift the burden and restore the joy in my life. He answered my prayer immediately. I could actually feel the pressures being lifted.

As time continued, bills were getting further behind. I began to worry about Mike's job situation, since he was due to report back to work on August 21. I had picked up the worrying again. I abruptly came to my senses and told the Lord that I had already placed everything in His hands. I wasn't going to take them back again. Again, peace was restored.

At various times during the day, I would feel a surge of strength and power. And at those times, different people that I knew would appear into my thoughts. I could actually feel that person praying for us. I found later that people and churches all around the United States were praying for us by name. My church alone was praying around the clock. Each member had an assigned time in which to pray.

One of the most amazing things was happening at the family home in Kuwait. All the homes in the neighborhood had been entered into and robbed. Each day an intruder was expected to enter into our home. Mike was constantly having us hide our belongings, just in case the Iraqi soldiers did enter. We also had to be careful, as Americans, of being caught in the home, since Saddam had ordered all Americans and Britons to report to hotels. Mike was worried that his Kuwaiti family would suffer for hiding Americans in their home. The penalty for harboring was death. However, I never felt anxious about that, because I truly felt that God was protecting us. I was certain that he was, indeed, keeping the soldiers away from us.

Many times, I would pray and ask God to deliver us out of Kuwait. I was very specific when I asked Him to permit the four of us to leave together. After much praying, again I asked, "Lord, I have continued to ask of You the same request. I know You are going to deliver us, so I won't ask that of You again. However, I do feel the need to continue asking that You return all four of us home safely. This is my deepest desire, but Your will be done."

When the time came for us to leave Kuwait, my anticipated fears were confirmed. The kids and I could leave, but Mike would have to stay. Kuwaiti citizens had to remain in their country.

I prayed again and told the Lord that I really didn't like His decision of having Mike stay behind, but I understood that His will was being done. At that time, I asked for strength to leave him. I also told the Lord that I was assured that this was His will for my life. Then I asked Him for a another favor..."Please use this time to give Mike peace. Help him to know that You alone can comfort him." I was very much aware that God knew what He was doing, but I felt I had to ask Him and let Him know that these were my desires. Many times "we have not, because we ask not," and I didn't want to be guilty of that. I began to thank Him for all things and for everything He was going to do in our lives.

On September 12, the kids and I left Kuwait on a freedom flight. I didn't dream when I left, that I wouldn't hear from Mike again until mid-December. I was so sure, at the time I left, that the situation would be settled quickly and Mike would follow in a week or two. I was wrong, but I continued to have faith that God was taking care of him.

The months passed slowly. The news of a war in the Middle East was escalating. I didn't want that to happen, but deep in my heart, I knew it was necessary.

Shortly after my return from Kuwait, I visited the public library and borrowed every book I could find regarding Saddam Hussein. The hope that I once had, of Saddam taking his soldiers and going back to Iraq, vanished. Nothing was going to move him from Kuwait...unless, of course, he was forced...and by force--it must be. War was imminent.

On the evening of December 10, I received a telephone call. The caller introduced himself as Mr. Graham, and announced that he had just arrived from Kuwait. The American embassy had kept him hidden there since the invasion. When all the American hostages were released, he returned home to the United States, and the first thing on his agenda was to call me.

He said that Mike had called the embassy shortly after our departure seeking help to escape from Kuwait. He also said that he and Mike had become friends and they talked on the phone daily, until he left Kuwait three days prior.

Mr. Graham said that he had finally talked Mike into leaving Kuwait through the Saudi border, and asked that I stay by the phone and wait for Mike's call. I was relieved and thankful that Mike was all right. I honestly didn't know at that point if Mike was still alive.

Before we ended our telephone conversation Mr. Graham told me that he was a Southern Baptist Missionary, and had been assigned to Kuwait in May, 1990.

On December 12, two days after Bro. Graham's call, exactly three months after the kids and I left Kuwait, Mike did call. Instead of going south to the Saudi border, though, he had gone north to Baghdad; a nine-hour drive from Kuwait City. He said that he was afraid to depart through the border because the Iraqi soldiers were confiscating passports, money, and green cards. The soldiers would then trace back to the Kuwaiti homes to rob and burn them. Mike was afraid to endanger his family who remained in Kuwait. Instead, he traveled to Baghdad, the nearest place that had open international telephone lines.

The first time Mike called, he was very emotional. He felt that he would never see any of us or his American home again. He seemed hopeless, helpless, and alone. I told him at that time to try and cheer up, and know that God was in control of the situation.

Mike stayed in Baghdad for three days and called every time he could get an open line. We could only talk for ten minutes each time. At each phone call, I could tell that he was getting stronger. I told him that everyone was praying for his safety and speedy return. I also told him to be strong; and know that God knew what He was doing--to trust fully in Him.

During our final telephone conversation, before he traveled back to Kuwait from Iraq, I asked him to write the following on a sheet of paper: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path." I asked him to walk, talk, eat, sleep, and meditate on those words. He promised that he would.

In my closing remarks of the talk, I thanked everyone for praying for us, and added, "Prayer brought the kids and me home safely. Prayer has kept us strong and hopeful. Your continued prayers will bring Mike home soon." And they did.....

Six weeks later, Mike was finally released from Kuwait. He was forced to stay until the Gulf War had ended. He suffered many things during those months. At one time, he lost all hope of ever seeing his American family and friends again.

"Many times I thought I would never survive. Saddam had intended to kill all of us. I thank God for watching over me and bringing me home safely." Mike said when he returned home.

Mike had been home a few days, when I asked him if he remembered the verse that I had asked him to write on paper while he was in Baghdad. I was thrilled when he quoted from memory, Proverbs 3:5-6; and said that those words had truly comforted him.

That unique vacation changed all our lives. I'm sure we'll never be the same. But we really learned to trust in the Lord--we had no other choice.


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