I can think of no other word than miracle to describe what happened last week as we were driving down the road into our village. In some ways, I don't even feel qualified to write about this miraculous event, knowing that my words could never aptly describe God's providence. Yet, at the same time, I cannot let the incident go unspoken, because my heart overflows with praise and thanksgiving for a God who is so good!
We had been in the village for several days and had driven into the little Chinese town of Mae Salong one afternoon to buy a bottle of children's Tylenol for the Akha Clinic. As we were returning, we turned down the steep road which descends into our village to see the road packed with about 30 of our village friends. They were a joyous group, to say the least, participating in the Akha tradition of escorting a young bride from her village to ours for her wedding the next day. Within seconds of seeing the group, our emotions went from joy to panic as we realized that the brakes on the truck we were driving had gone out. I began waving frantically and Paul was honking the horn while we both prayed desperately that our friends would understand that we weren't simply joining in the fun of the wedding procession. As the truck gained speed, everyone began to realize that we were out of control and started yelling to one another to get off the road. Meanwhile, Paul, firmly directed by the hand of God, was swerving from one side of the road to the other, avoiding the various groups of people on both sides of the narrow road, while at the same time trying to avoid sending us careening off the side of the mountain into the valley below!
The final group of people we passed was on the right hand side of the road and so of course, we had swerved on to an embankment on the left. As we came racing down from the embankment, we were filled with horror as we saw a tiny two year old girl all alone and directly in front of us. My only prayer was "Oh God, no!" because I could not think of any way that we could possibly avoid hitting this tiny child. As we passed the point where she was, time seemed to stand still and I held my breath as I braced myself for that inevitable bump... that never came.
About thirty feet later the road leveled out, the brakes on the truck re-engaged and we were able to come to a stop. Both Paul and I, running on pure adrenaline, were out of the truck within seconds and running towards the crumpled heap of a girl lying in the dirt on the side of the road. Paul reached her first, utterly relieved to find her conscious and crying. Seconds later, her uncle who was part of the wedding procession, whisked her up and carried her down to her mother in the village below.
We were left shaky and in shock, but surrounded by some of our best friends. Everyone was immediately shaking our hands, patting us on the shoulder and praising the Lord for His obvious protection as we all slowly made our way down the road to the village. When we arrived in the village a group was already crowded around the little girl examining her for signs of injury. Miraculously, she just had a few scrapes on her chest and back and a bit of a bruise on her hip. No one had actually seen what happened when our truck passed her, but it was concluded that our front left tire must have brushed against her back pushing her forward onto the embankment. Because the little girl couldn't tell us what had happened, and because no one was really sure of what transpired, we were still very worried that there may be some hidden injury. So, the mother, the little girl, Paul and I headed off to the hospital in Mae Chan (about an hour and a half away) for x-rays and an expert opinion. Ten dollars and four hours later we were home again in the village with a clean bill of health for this precious little one.
Even now as I think over the events of the day, I cannot help but see spiritual forces at work. Our adversary prowls around seeking someone to devour (1 Peter5:8), and I'm sure the wedding party looked mighty vulnerable on that steep hill. What better way to destroy a Christian community than to have such a blessed and happy event completely torn apart by what could have been such a tragic accident? But the Lord is ever faithful to protect his sheep. We are convinced that His hand was guiding our vehicle, keeping us and everyone else safe. Beyond that, we know that what Satan meant for harm, the Lord has used for good, increasing our faith in the sure, strong hand of the Lord that protects his own from the schemes of the Enemy!