NEWBERG — Currently on a visit back home here, missionaries to the Philippines Daniel and Colleen Jaquith are sharing their account of miraculous survival in a shooting and attempted robbery earlier this year.
Through their Bridge to the Islands and Nations Ministries, the Jaquiths and their family have been serving in the Philippines for many years, based on the main island of Luzon. They are also developing a mission base near Norte in Patnanungan, Polillio Islands, Quezon Province to the east of Luzon.
They and some American guests were there last March 4 when an armed intruder during the early morning hours entered into the buildings at the mission base. While their guests slept in a nearby building that was securely locked, Dan and Colleen were asleep in an unprotected room in an unfinished building when they were awakened by two huge explosions. They then heard shouting and commotion coming from an adjacent church building.
Before the Jaquiths could go investigate, a masked gunman appeared through the doorway, holding one of the local pastors as hostage at gunpoint. The gunman threatened all and demanded money. The pastor had tried to reason with the gunman, who nevertheless shot him in the foot, and then pointed the gun at the pastor’s head while demanding he tbe taken to the Americans.
“Colleen and I were desperate and defenseless there on our bed,” recalled Dan. “In our desperation we both began to unitedly cry out to the Lord … with very loud and intense voices. I prayerfully went to my knees, with Colleen there right beside me on our bed. With the loaded gun pointed at us, the man kept saying (in the Tagalog language) ‘Stop praying! Stop praying! Give me the money or I will kill you!’
“We continued to pray! Who was this man to try to stop us from praying to God?!”
As the Jaquiths continued to cry to the Lord, the pastor being held hostage suggested the gunman look in the Jaquiths’ nearby suitcases for money. The gunman did so, and the pastor took advantage of the distraction by grabbing a plastic chair and breaking it over the head of the robber.
Even though his foot was bleeding profusely, the hostage fought with his assailant. They grabbed, pushed and hit each other for control of the gun, which went off several more times. A bullet then ripped through Dan’s left arm, between his elbow and wrist, and he cried, “I’m hit! I got shot!”
Terrified, Colleen wrapped a pillowcase tightly around Dan’s heavily bleeding arm. The couple then lay down on the bed to avoid being shot again as Dan put pressure on the wound. Meanwhile, the life and death struggle for control of the gun continued between the hostage and gunman.
“I took the gunshot, but my wife probably received the worst emotional shock, seeing and hearing her husband get shot, and be a bloody mess, right there in front of her eyes. It was like a dreadful nightmare, and has been difficult to recover from,” said Dan.
Finally the hostage overpowered the assaulting robber and wrestled the gun from his hand, at which time the gunman ran out of the building and disappeared into the darkness.
Not feeling safe leaving the room while it was still dark, the Jaquiths and the pastor waited until daylight to secure help from police and find medical assistance. Because there is no hospital on the island, it took about 16 hours after a long boat ride to the mainland and then further travel, to get to a hospital on Luzon for X-rays and additional assistance in dressing the wounds.
Miraculously, said Dan, neither he nor the pastor sustained any bone fractures or serious internal damage. Meanwhile, police quickly apprehended the assailant, who has a record of being in and out of jail and involvement with illegal drugs.
“I was shot!,” said Dan. “The memory and the seriousness of that traumatic event is still very vivid in my mind! I am not sharing this story desiring to get sympathy, or because I want people to feel sorry for us. Neither am I sharing it out of self-pity, anger, or bitterness. I share this testimony with deep gratefulness to be alive, and for the ability to give the Lord praise for His mighty deliverance during that desperate time of trouble.”
For more on the Jaquiths’ ministry, go to www.btti.org