By January Parker – Peachtree City, GA
It was a beautiful spring afternoon. The air was cool and crisp. The sun was shining and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I was just stepping outside of one of my favorite stores.
My heart was light and full of joy. There were smiling shoppers everywhere. It was one of those perfect days.
Then in an instant, that perfect day turned upside down.
Scream and Die
My car was parked right in front of the store. I was standing next to it and suddenly I couldn’t move. I found myself pinned against the door.
Someone was behind me wrapping one arm around my neck and holding my face with his hand. I couldn’t turn my head. His other arm was wrapped around my waist pressing a gun into my stomach. A voice hissed in my ear, “Give me the ring; give me the ring!
It took me a second to understand what was happening. As I twisted off my ring, I began to pray in my heart for God’s protection.
Then I thought, “What if he is on drugs and accidentally pulls the trigger?” Pushing that thought out, I asked God, “What do I do?”
“Stay still; don’t struggle” was what came to my mind.
The man grabbed my ring, then whispered in my ear, “If you scream, I will kill you.” Then he released me.
As I turned around, all I saw was his back as he disappeared around a corner. I was still surrounded by the same shoppers from a moment before, but the joy of shopping had left their faces. They had been within feet of me, seeing it all happen.
Pray and Live
These robberies continued in Atlanta for weeks, soon becoming big news.
Over several days, I found myself struggling to overcome the fear that I felt, so I called our wonderful ministry pastor at the time, John Shroyer. He prayed with me in Jesus’ powerful name, and the fear left my heart.
Photo by Anthony Quintano
He shared with me his testimony of how the devil would attack him with lies trying to tempt him to fear. He reassured me that he and the church were there for me day or night. I was at peace again, mindful of what a loving home church I had.
But that isn’t the end of my story.
Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 (NRSV)
Fear Comes Knocking
Eventually the culprits were apprehended. Before the legal case went to court. I was subpoenaed to testify in preparation for the trial.
All of the victims had to come to the courthouse to meet with prosecutors. There were about 27 of us packed into a conference room for several hours, each waiting our turn to be interviewed by the lawyers.
As we chatted, we discovered that all of the robberies were similar – except one. Among all of the robbery victims, there was only one male victim. His name was John.
They had robbed his jewelry store a year earlier, shot him five times, and left him for dead. He was a Christian who knew that it was only because of Jesus that he was still alive.
The conference room was silent. “We must stop them!” John cried. “These are not just thieves, they are stone cold murderers!”
A week later, my turn came to be in a courtroom filled with gang members. The witness stand was only a few feet from the three criminals. I couldn’t help but think that these were the men who had shot John.
On the stand the lawyer asked me to say my name for the court and to spell it out for the record. As the perpetrators all glared at me, the fear returned to knock at my door.
While driving home that day, I thought, “They all know my name and where I live. What if one of their gang members comes after me for testifying?” That thought kept surfacing.
A few days later, I was notified that the jury reached a guilty verdict. They were all sentenced to life in prison. But instead of being relieved that they were in jail, I struggled with thoughts of retribution from their gang.
Right away, I reconnected with Pastor John and he helped me once again. I was able to forgive those who had wronged me, and John and I prayed for them.
Image courtesy of Church Iglesia
It’s Ok to Ask for Help
That was 17 years ago. Two lessons stand out to me from that experience. There are times when we may come under attack from fear, sickness, financial crisis, to name a few; all initiated by the Evil One.
That assault can wound us so deeply that we need to be shielded, healed and strengthened by our church household until we can stand on our own two feet again. Christian Family Fellowship Ministry did that for me.
“I shall not die, but I shall live, and recount the deeds of the Lord.” Psalm 118:17 (ESV)
The other related lesson for me is that the financial support that we share toward ministry efforts keeps our pastoral leaders available to those in need.
Our gifts enable them to overflow time and resources to others, providing access to our spiritual family and to all the love and blessings it has to offer.
For more teaching on how to send fear running in the name of Jesus, read Senior Pastor Tonia Shroyer’s Fear Not!
January Parker is a faithful servant of God and bold minister of the gospel. She lives in Peachtree City, Georgia, and travels extensively. Besides her love for the Bible and the Spirit, January has a passion for Israel and Biblical history. She also is a professional commercial pilot and flight instructor.