Delisa is Betsy’s cousin who lived with us for two years when I was a pastor at Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena. One day, after shopping at a large department store in Pasadena, Delisa was getting into her car in the parking lot, when suddenly a man with a knife pushed her into the car and growled, “I’ll kill you if you don’t move over.” She tried to get out the passenger door but it jammed. The man got into the car, put his right arm around Delisa and pressed the cold steel of the knife against her neck. Blood was running from a cut in her right hand. It was a nightmare. “Oh, God, help me,” she prayed.
He turned on the freeway and was driving fast. “I knew he had no intention of letting me go. Never in my life had I experienced such horror and fear. “Then my eyes fell on my Bible. ‘Lord, please help me be calm.’” God gave her the courage and she said, “Would you please take the knife away from my throat? I won’t jump out of the car at sixty miles an hour!” He took his arm away, and Delisa breathed a prayer of thanks, sensing that God was with her.
Gaining courage, she asked if she could read from the Bible. He said he didn’t care. Delisa read from Psalm 23 but the man said he didn’t understand what it meant. Delisa talked about God’s love, guidance, and forgiveness, and shared how she had experienced that in her own life.
Delisa asked if he was married. He said, “I have a wife, a young son and a daughter. But they’re better off without me. I just lost my job. And, see this?” He extended the inside of his right arm to show all the needle marks. ”I’ve spend a lot of time in jail, and I just got off drugs a few days ago. My rehab counselor knows I’m nervous. She told me not to do anything rash, but I had to get this car.”
Referring back to Psalm 23, Delisa talked further about God’s love and forgiveness, and that God will forgive anyone who turns to him, no matter what they have done. Then Delisa told him about Lake Avenue Church in Pasadena. “There are pastors there who would be willing to talk to you about your problems with drugs and jobs or anything on your mind. You can take me there and I’ll introduce you. It’s a better way of dealing with your problems than what you are doing now.”
All of a sudden the man whipped the car around in a U-turn. “I’m taking you back to your church,” he said quietly. He handed Delisa the knife and said, “Do whatever you want with this. I’d like to hear some more of this stuff about God and Jesus.” Delisa knew that he meant it. The man seemed much more relaxed. Since Delisa was a soloist, she sang songs of praise all the way back to the church.
When they arrived, he handed the keys to Delisa and said he’d like to talk to a pastor. They both met with the pastor who heard the story of the kidnapping and then after explaining God’s forgiveness, he led the man through a prayer to receive Jesus Christ. That’s when the man turned to Delisa with tears in his eyes and said, “I can’t tell you how sorry I am for what I did to you. Maybe things do work out for good like you told me.”
When people are hurting, depressed or feeling trapped, often the only way out is by turning to God. But, usually, someone needs to show them the way. In this crisis, Delisa found the love and courage to speak to his fears, give him hope and help him to Christ.
After counseling with the pastors, Delisa chose not to press charges, believing that going back to jail would only jeopardize his faith and stability. The pastors stayed in touch with him. He returned to his family, stayed out of trouble and got his job back. Again, this shows that God specializes in bringing beauty out of ashes.
For full story, see Guidepost Magazine, March 1982.