Grace at Night

One week ago our family went through a harrowing, life-changing experience. This is how my husband described last Tuesday evening in a prayer update:

Last night at about 9:45 pm at our house, Caleb announced to Amy and I as we worked on a paint job in the children’s room that three men had just entered our back door. When I got to the door, I saw two guns brandished among the three criminals. Though we offered all our money and goods to them they beat me and hit Amy twice.

We are praising the Lord that after about 15 minutes wherein they tore the house apart, we were able to chase them away. They took some material possessions, but our lives and honor were spared because of the good hand of our God who placed a wall between our lives and their weapons.

Tomorrow, we are taking a leave for our family. Please pray that we would be comforted the way the apostle Paul was comforted when he was in pain (2 Cor. 1:5). We also need wisdom as we consider how best to honor God in light of our family (1 Tim. 5:8) and the gospel (2 Tim. 2:10).

Trusting God,

Seth and Amy

Seth dislikes sensationalism, so he didn’t include some details in that prayer update. Since then, we have received a flood of support–prayers and well-wishes–from friends and family. We’ve also gotten more questions, which I will try to answer about some of the details that rattled us that night. Seth and I made a list of ten factors that can make an incident traumatic. Eight of the ten happened to us:

1. In your home
2. In the presence of children
3. Prolonged
4. Death and rape threats
5. Guns
6. Theft
7. Beating
8. Shots fired
9. Rape
10. Murder

You may remember the other break-ins that have occurred here this year by our teenage neighbor. Because of those, we had burglar bars installed on all of our windows, alarms on our doors, and we locked everything, including our gate, nightly. This one night as usual, we had locked and alarmed everything. But we were painting the kids’ room, so we had moved the kids across the house to sleep in the school room for the night. Seth unlocked the side door and turned off the alarm an hour before the incident just to clean paintbrushes at the outside tap. We planned to lock up again when we were done (we were almost done when the thieves came!)

Armed robbery has never happened in our village. It happens lots in the cities, but we always told people that the village was safer. We thought it was. Everyone knows everyone, and break-ins usually occur when the owners aren’t home. We were completely unprepared for this. Our neighbors are completely shocked and horrified. That’s one reason this was so terrifying, is that we totally did not expect it.

Another reason we were so scared is that the kids were separated from us. When Caleb told us that men were in the house, they were in the room right next to where the kids were sleeping on the floor and would have to come right past the kids to access the rest of the house. I stayed frozen in the kids room with paint all over my gloved hands and listened. I assumed it was our teen neighbor again, with some friends. Seth ran yelling, “Get out! Get out!” I’ll never forget when his tone completely changed. He shouted, “Whoaaaa! I’ll give you anything you want, anything!” He begged on his knees. Then I knew they must be armed.

I heard repeated shouts for money and U.S. dollars, with death threats. The men ran past to our room where we kept some cash, and Seth yelled for me to get down. I hit the floor, hiding behind some furniture. Footsteps came in the room, but left, not seeing me. Then I heard them beating Seth with a hard object (a rifle) as he was getting the money for them. Seth tends to faint under extreme emotional, physical stress, and I began praying fervently that he wouldn’t pass out. God kept him conscious.

I would have remained hidden if it hadn’t been that our children were in danger. I heard the men pass out of the bedroom into the study where Seth was offering a laptop and our phones. He told Caleb and Carson to sit on the couch, so I knew my oldest (7) and youngest (2) were out in the middle of the fray. At the same time, one of the men began demanding, “Where’s the mother?” I came out, and the man with the rifle asked me where money was. I said I didn’t know, that my husband had it, and he punched me in the stomach with the rifle. I hit the floor again and covered my head. Seth ran over to protect me.

Then the scariest moment of all happened: the man with the handgun held the gun at Caleb’s head and said, “I shoot this boy.” My heart stopped. Seth pleaded, and Caleb (and Carson) screamed. The men didn’t like the noise, so they left the boys alone. Seth distracted them by offering more stuff. For a moment I was left unguarded. I motioned to the boys to come to me and instructed them to hide under their bed. They obeyed immediately.

The next second, Callie came to the school room door crying. God helped me to get her safely hidden away as well. Now I was only missing one child. I ran to get Colin. I thought about leaving him sleeping, but was afraid he might get hurt later and wanted all my children together, covered. The rifle-holder followed me jabbing and demanding money, but I begged to move my child. He allowed that. I am so grateful, as the men later left that way fighting and angry, and I’m afraid what they might have done in their spite as they passed that way, had Colin still been in bed.

When in the past I have heard of being “held up at gunpoint,” I always imagined a more passive thing, where one guy holds the gun on you, while the other searches the house and takes things. This was way more physical and prolonged than that. I thought they would never leave, and I was despairing of our lives. They were unhappy with how little money they were getting, and also asked where our safe was. (They probably thought we had guns as well.) They never left us, and beat us throughout. My back still shows two round wounds from the sawed-off rifle end, and my stomach has a large bruise from the rifle handle. Seth is bruised too many places to name.

They tore our house apart, taking money, laptop, phones, our pellet gun, keys to our house and car, and even Caleb’s savings for Christmas presents. However in general, they were lazy thieves. They wanted to beat and intimidate us into doing all of the searching for them. They missed our iPad, a Kindle, didn’t take our desktop, our bank cards, or our passports which had been sitting right on the desk, as Seth has to renew our visas this month! They dumped out my purse, but didn’t open my coin purse with money and bank cards. I didn’t think to offer it.

They cursed us the entire time in four languages. When nothing more was forthcoming, they repeatedly threatened to rape me. I was praying constantly. Then everything happened at once. One man came at me to drag me away, and my shirt ripped in the struggle. Seth began fighting him, took the rifle from him, pointed it at his head, and pulled the trigger. There were no bullets!

Seth shouted that they were fakes and fought harder, which encouraged my fighting; for at the same time, another man came for me, and I began fighting. Up till that time, we had been passive and humble. I think now that that was a big factor in keeping us alive. I made no conscious decision. God brought to my mind to use the office chair I was hiding beside, so I picked it up and helped to ram the men out of the study.

The leader with the handgun then shot. We all froze. He said, “I shoot.” I thought it was real, but Seth still believed it was a cap gun. I had had time to grab a plank from our desk that held our keyboard. I walloped one man on the head with it. Then Seth fought them out of the house. Even then, the gunman returned chasing Seth through the house. Chairs were overturned, and a door slammed right off its hinges to the floor. For some reason he did not shoot again, but left. Seth locked the door behind them; the keys were still in the keyhole on the inside from earlier in the night. Then we managed to call for help using Skype on our desktop.

I’m sorry if I have desensitized people with violent descriptions. My simple goal is to explain why this was such a horrific event, and why it is life-changing. The gunman shot not four feet away from Seth. He threatened to kill my child. They beat me and threatened worse. And the main reason they did it is because we are the sole white people in huge cluster of black villages. We are a prime target, with our “U.S. dollars.” We need time to think about how God would have us to protect our family now and what our future ministry should be.

We thank God with all of our hearts that He sent them away in the end with no great harm to us. He spared our lives. Since then God’s people have been so comforting. Here is my most recent Facebook update:

We praise the Lord for the kindness poured out towards us by our Christian friends. We can’t thank you enough for your prayers. We still cry daily, we are still sleepless and stiff physically, and very uncertain about our future here. Our sending church has offered to bring us home for as long as we need to recuperate physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and to make decisions about our future ministry. We are planning to come to the States next week if we can get the tickets and stay for a number of weeks. When I think of our supporters and friends in the States, those “holding the ropes” for us, my mental image right now is that we are hanging by a thread. And you have remembered us in your prayers unceasingly. I can’t tell you how much we need your prayers right now, and how thankful we are for your care for our family. Thank you so much.

I will write more as I have time to explain our options for the future. For now though, I feel incredibly blessed to have so many people praying for us. Thank you, our friends.

About Amy

I'm Amy, a missionary wife and mother of four children, blogging about our lives and perspectives on culture in South Africa.
This entry was posted in Missional Monday and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

62 Responses to Grace at Night

  1. Pam Garrett says:

    I’m so sorry your family had to endure such a tragedy. I am so thankful that you are safe. I’ll continue to pray for your family.

    • Connie Lee says:

      Seth and Amy we are continuing to pray for your whole family during this horrific tragedy. We love you all and pray for healing, strength and that God would give you wisdom concerning your future.

  2. Ann Bedford says:

    Our hearts are so sad but are also overflowing with gratefulness to God for saving your lives. May God continue to comfort and direct you. All our love.

  3. I am now crying again. We are so thankful you are still with us here on this earth. You are never far from our thoughts. Clothes are rounded up and awaiting your presence. We are praying for you and will hug and cry with you –and find some laughter too — when you come back. Love you!

  4. Lynette Gilbert says:

    Love you so much and am so selfishly happy that God has for this time continued to leave you here with us. Can’t wait to see you and think of you constantly. You have little worldly goods to worry for when you arrive home. We are waiting to give you some “normal” back – whatever that may look like through our tears so we can have laughter as well – which in our family always brings a different set of tears! 🙂

  5. Mary Carter says:

    Amy, I cry just reading about what you and your family went through, and I will continue to pray for your healing and the decisions you need to make for your future.

  6. lisa shafer says:

    Seth and Amy, Will be praying for you, as I already have been. Our family will continue to remember you and are praying for wisdom and grace as decisions for the future are made. Praise the Lord for his protection! So many times, in your account, he gave wisdom and strength when you were in the thick of the battle. How good is our God!

  7. So sorry you all had to go through this. Glad you are taking leave and considering. God bless you and the kiddos as you all rest and recuperate after this.

  8. I can’t imagine going through this. I am very thankful for all the answers to your prayers and that you and the children are are alive and safe. I know there are many people praying for you, and I believe you are brave to have told your story now. God give you wisdom and direct your steps. We are praying for you.

  9. Renee Black says:

    Amy, thank you for sharing about God’s grace during such a scary time. Protecting my kids from danger is one of the scariest things in my mind. So glad to hear how God gave you wisdom as you protected your babies. His is good!

  10. scrappyfrog says:

    Love and prayers from the Fosters! So scary – and I imagine that does not even begin to describe the terror of that night.

  11. Keya says:

    Wow! Praise God that you are alive and well. Praise God for strength and quick thinking! We will continue to pray for you as you come back to rest and recuperate.

  12. A friend of mine had posted about your experience on Facebook the other day. I knew the name Seth Myers was familiar, but couldn’t place the face. I prayed anyway. Then either yesterday or the day before, it all came together that I remembered him from college. You know it’s easier to pray for someone when you personally know who they are. I was able to pray more specifically. Today I saw a link to this blog post and now know how to pray even more. I’ll pray that the Lord protects you all mentally and spiritually in this aftermath and that the Lord shows you exactly where He wants you to be.

  13. Amy, Amy….., I can’t hardly type through tears. I have been so very burdened this past week, praying for you constantly. With my own Seth, tucked away safely at night, I have paused each evening at bedtime to lift your family in prayer. Please know we will continue to beseech God on your behalf. Having survived a home invasion, that, in a roundabout way, cost me the life of my son, I feel a degree of your pain. Know you are loved and prayed for.

  14. Heather Nankey says:

    I’m so sorry that you and your family had to go through this, but will be praying that God is giving you the peace and strength to overcome!

  15. Beth F. says:

    Praying for you all! ♡♥♡♥ Words cannot express our sympathy.

  16. Christie says:

    I saw your story on facebook and am so grateful that you’re alive to tell it. Our family will be praying for yours as you recover and rest and find comfort among your friends and family back in the US. May God protect and guide y’all, healing the wounds on your body as he holds you and comforts your mind.

  17. Kathie McClinton says:

    Amy. My heart is just so heavy to read the horrific details of that horrible night. I have nothing new to say that hasn’t already been said. May God put His arms around you and comfort you and a miraculous and incredible way. Prayers, prayers and prayers….In His love, Kathie

  18. Laura says:

    Amy, I am stunned. I am horrified, yet I’m rejoicing all in one heart. It’s an odd mix. It’s a wake-up call to me in my comfortable home.

    If you set up an account for people to give so you can afford the trip home, please post that on Facebook.

    Thank you for serving Jesus and almost paying the ultimate cost for doing so. I’m proud of you, I’m scared for you, AND I sense peace in your protection. It’s paradoxical and kind of beautiful, since we can never fully explain what God is doing.

    Anyway, I am joining the slew of people in prayer for you and your family.

  19. Laura says:

    Amy, I am stunned. I am horrified, yet I’m rejoicing all in one heart. It’s an odd mix. It’s a wake-up call to me in my comfortable home.

    If you set up an account for people to give so you can afford the trip home, please post that on Facebook.

    Thank you for serving Jesus and almost paying the ultimate cost for doing so. I’m proud of you, I’m scared for you, AND I sense peace in your protection. It’s paradoxical and kind of beautiful, since we can never fully explain what God is doing.

    Anyway, I am joining the slew of people in prayer for you and your family.

  20. Seth and Amy, Just read about God’s protection over your family. Isaiah 59:1 says “Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear.” May the Lord give you peace beyond your understanding and rest when fear comes rushing in. I will be praying that God will provide for travel expenses and wisdom as you work through this situation.

    Shawn Alexander – Missionary in Sorocaba, Brazil

  21. Denise says:

    Amy, I’m so sorry to what happened to you and your family. I’m praying for you and your family that God will be with you all. God bless 🙂

  22. aleassa says:

    Amy, I’m praying for your family. Thank you for the details to help us understand and pray. I’m so sorry you and your family went through that. Praise the Lord for his grace!

  23. jenmarie33 says:

    Wow, that’s horrible. I don’t know you but a friend shared this on facebook and I will be praying for you and for future decisions. I can’t imagine what that must have been like. So thankful that God took care of you!

  24. Ruth Lunsford says:

    Seth and Amy, please know you are in our thoughts and prayers. We love you dearly and are praying God gives you wisdom for the future.

  25. missionarycoffey says:

    My wife and I are praying for your family.

  26. Lisa Carlson says:

    Amy & Seth,
    We are greatly saddened to hear of this. Our thoughts and prayers are with you!
    Dan & Lisa Carlson

  27. Sam Keith says:

    Praying for all of you Amy… God WILL show Himself mighty and use it all for good… I know you know that. So thankful for your safety and that you are able to get back to the States.

  28. I can only imagine. Praying that God will comfort you as only He can. (I’m Wenonah R’s sister-in-law.)

  29. Faith Ann Bartley says:

    You don’t know me..but I want you to know that you are in my prayers and evidently in many others as well!! What happened to you and your family is one of my nightmares 😦 I pray for grace, and for you to feel the LOrds loving, caring and protective hands to wrap you in His love!!!!!!
    Do what you NEED to do to take care of your precious family!! God Bless,
    Missionaries to St. Lucia
    Faith Ann Bartley….

  30. Toni Thompson says:

    Sitting here in my home ,tears in my eyes after reading the account of the horrific invasion of your home .Praise God for His mercy in sparing your dear lives.I will keep your family in prayer. May our Heavenly Father give you courage and peace .

  31. Stefanie Michael says:

    Praying for so much grace and peace to flood your souls. Only the Lord can heal these wounds. Would love to contribute to plane tickets. Do let us know where to send money.

  32. Reblogged this on tacticalprofessor and commented:
    [This lady]
    “made a list of ten factors that can make an incident traumatic. Eight of the ten happened [in their incident]:

    1. In your home
    2. In the presence of children
    3. Prolonged
    4. Death and rape threats
    5. Guns
    6. Theft
    7. Beating
    8. Shots fired
    9. Rape
    10. Murder”

  33. Kelly Simkus says:

    Please know that we have been praying for you and your children! We had several attempted armed break-ins while living in Pretoria, but never even had anything stolen from us while living in the village. I am so very sorry that you all had to go through this. We’ll continue to pray for you all as you recover and make decisions about future ministry.

  34. Melody Homsher says:

    My heart aches for you. I don’t know you, but I think our husbands went to school together. I have prayed for you several times already, and we will continue to lift you up to our Father. You have been entrusted with a taste of “the fellowship of His suffering” … praying that you feel and know His comfort in amazing ways in the upcoming days and weeks.

  35. Karin M. Brown says:

    My husband and I served in South Africa for 12 years. We, too, had many break-ins and were held at gunpoint in a hi-jacking attempt. Phil. 4:8 was so helpful for me. The truth is that you are still alive. God is sovereign. He will never forsake you nor leave you. Proud of you. Look forward to meeting you at the Throne one day.

  36. Laura Kauffman says:

    Hi Amy-I don’t know you but my sister is a missionary in Bulgaria (with her husband and their ten kids) and I do wonder at times what would happen if they were put into a similar situation. First: praise JESUS for protecting you, your husband and babies!! I cannot imagine what must have been going through your heads as this horrific, violent act was forced upon you. And secondly: yay for you and fighting back! As I read through your story, I started to cheer when you said you ‘picked up the board and walloped one of them’. I will pray for peace for all of you. No doubt your little ones will have some sort of nightmares; also praying for guidance for your family. Blessings-Laura

  37. Kristi says:

    So glad you and your family are ok. Praying for a fast recovery and that you can get home to the states for some “well in the valley” time.


  38. Dear Myers Family, I want to say how very sorry I am that you have had to go through this ordeal. May you feel the Loving arms of the Lord round about you as you recover, Prayers to you all for a safe return to the states and Prayers for your future decisions. May you and the children be comforted in knowing many people are praying for your well being. The McClelland’s

  39. Marshall Twiddy says:

    You and your family are in our prayers. GOD Bless and comfort you.
    The Twiddy family – Marshall & Peggy

  40. Debbie says:

    Amy and Seth I am so sorry to hear this but so thankful God kept you all. Will be praying for you all.

  41. Pingback: Thoughtful Thursdays: Laughter is the Best Medicine - Creative K Kids

  42. Alpheus says:

    So devastated and shameful as a South African. Please people pray for my country. We cannot afford to lose missionaries like the Meyers whom I know personnally. Seth has been my pastor for three years now, and has helped me and my family a great deal. Words cannot describe how sorry I am. Thankfully God has protected them.

  43. Marcus says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I will pray for you. Also, this makes me rethink our home security. I live in the United States. May God bless you.

  44. Leah Wiedeman says:

    My heart has been breaking for you since we heard of the terror you and your family have endured. You have been in our prayers and we are so glad God kept you from even greater horror. Our prayer is for you and your family’s recovery and healing. May God to be glorified. Only He can make such an experience work for good in anyone’s life. May you rest in His promises and may He grant peace through the turmoil. Keeping you all in our prayers

  45. Tammy Cannon says:

    Amy, I just left a personal message on your FB page!!! Please know that even though you don’t know me here in Goldsboro, NC, I am here praying for your family. GOD’S GOT THIS!!!

  46. Denise VanWingerden says:

    Hi Amy, I have never posted anything and do not know how to reply in a private message. Can’t get your story out of my mind, which might be good since it keeps me praying for you all as you travel to the states to be with your family. Bob and I are very glad that you are taking time to recover while being in the states with family. Very thankful the Lord spared your lives. All else can be replaced. We are praying that the Lord heal you physically, mentally and spirtually. Keep in touch. Denise

  47. Aisha says:

    I am praying for your family. (Heard through Trinity Baptist Church that sends Paul and Melinda). I thank God for His protection, your faith and the courage He gave you throughout. He will direct you as you make decisions about your future ministry. Praying for healing for you all (especially the children).

  48. Bekka says:

    Just getting caught up on your blog. I and my family will be praying for you!

  49. Hannah Corner says:

    I am just getting back to your blog as well, and my family and I will be praying for your family!

  50. Pingback: Having A Proper View of Suffering: A Message from a Hurting But Healing Missionary | The Protestant Pulpit

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