Olene Carroll and Family Protected from Gunfire

When it seems we aren't in a safe place, we can always find comfort in God. This family did!

By Olene Carroll

Categories: Guidance, Safety

Our family has had its adventures, but there is one that has become a highlight – from the time we lived in Athens, Greece. My husband, Paul, had found a job flying out of Beirut, Lebanon, to other parts of the Middle East and Europe. I had always loved Psalm 139 as a prayer of protection for my pilot husband, and here we were, living on the Mediterranean where it was written:

Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, [those beautiful sunrays shooting up into the sky] and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. (7-10)

Our family had the opportunity to prove that we are never out of God's reach. I wanted to take our 11 and 13-year-old girls to see the famous Cedars of Lebanon from the Bible. Paul had always felt safe in Beirut, even though there was no national law enforcement. So he said "yes" to my request.

We hired a car to take us into the mountains to see these beautiful old trees sold to King Solomon to build his Temple. On the way down, we pulled over when a truckload of soldiers came up behind us. They hopped out, ran up a hillside, and began shooting their enemies with Kalashnikovs, semi-automatic rifles. We ducked down and waited for the shooting to stop.

The four of us prayed aloud with the 23rd Psalm over and over, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me" (4 KJV). The shooting was over soon, and we went on our way down the mountain, safe and sound … but the girls were still on the floor of the car. They wanted to leave right then and go home, but Paul had to fly to Cairo that night. So we three girls were left alone in the hotel.

The next day we ventured out to Wimpy's, a hamburger place, and sat by the window. Just as our food came, we heard those same sounds of guns and followed the lead of those around us: We got on the floor and crawled to the basement. We were told it was just a personal disagreement and not to worry.

By the time we got back to our food, it was covered with glass, and there were bullet holes in the windows. We were ushered to another table and given fresh hamburgers, but our appetites were gone. As we left the restaurant, there were customers eating at our old table, and waiters had put Wimpy stickers over the bullet holes in the window.

Later, we learned that robbers had been across the street from the restaurant. When the money changer refused to give up his money, slamming his metal door, the robbers began shooting in all directions. We had been protected.

Back in Athens, I invited a friend from church to hear our stories and to see our purchases. She looked with longing at our carpets and asked me if I would take her to Beirut to get some. "No way," I said. "Both Moses and Jesus said, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God" (Deut 6:16, Matt 4:7). Well, she wouldn't stop bothering me. So finally I said, "Okay I'll take you, but only if we do some serious praying beforehand. Then, if God opens the doors, we'll go."

Two of my favorite Bible passages that I prayed with had to do with fear. In the Old Testament, the 91st Psalm is written about people who go to God for protection, called "the secret place of the most High" (1). The result is: "Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day" (5). Then in the New Testament, the apostle John says: "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear" (I John 4:18). I realized that it didn't matter where I went; God would be there. God is Love, and there isn't room for fear in perfect Love.

Well, the doors opened smoothly and effortlessly, and we flew to Beirut with my husband Paul in the cockpit. As we approached the city, I saw something from the plane window I had never seen before or since -- a circular rainbow around the city limits. That symbol of peace from the story of Noah and the ark touched every aspect of our trip. And those lessons have stayed with me on every subsequent trip to the Middle East.