From the field: “I narrowly escaped death”

In celebration of World Day of Prayer today: World Vision staff member Lucas Serem shares an account of driving through dangerous territory in Kenya -- and how God saved their lives through prayer.

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January 23, mid-morning: There were seven of us in the vehicle, carrying out an assessment of rain shortages across our program area.

Some of the program areas are dangerous grounds for bandit activity.

We were not sure what lay ahead of us, so we prayed: “Father, please go before us and protect us.” Then we embarked on our journey.

We made our first stop at a small village, where we interviewed some of the locals about how they had been impacted. They acknowledged that the shortage of rain had been difficult, but they were more concerned with their security.

The villagers told us that they were very worried about violence in the area. In fact, most people had fled the area to a neighboring district for fear of further attacks. Most had also abandoned their farms and livestock. They were not cultivating the fields anymore, they said.

The residents who had chosen to remain behind were distraught and lived in constant fear. We learned later that tensions in the area were very high.

We knew that we had to present this matter to God before proceeding with our journey. One of us asked them if we could all pray together; they welcomed the idea. We prayed.

A group of women pray together during a 2006 Women of Faith vision trip to Kenya. (Photo: Robert Coronado/World Vision)

For about eight minutes, we prayed for the security situation in the area, praying for residents’ safety and also our safety as we traversed the dangerous region. After our prayers, we said goodbye to the community and proceeded on our journey. We knew that we had to put our trust in God.

I had been driving for about six kilometers, when suddenly hell broke loose. We heard one gunshot, quickly followed by a series of shots. It was shocking; this had never happened to us before.

I prayed again: “God, please give me wisdom and courage to get us out of this situation,” and somehow I managed to speed off. My heart was racing, everybody in the vehicle was quiet and terrified, and they had all taken cover under their seats as we had been trained to do when there is a shoot-out. I could not take cover since I had to drive the team to safety.

I kept praying: “God, you have to do something.” The road was terrible, and there were thick bushes on either side of the road. We couldn’t see anyone.

The gunmen kept firing as we raced away. After several tense minutes, we came upon an administrative police post. We all sighed with relief, knowing we’d reached safety. It was truly a miraculous escape.

At the police post, it was obvious that all of us were in distress and still reeling from the shock. I could not believe how narrowly we had escaped death. We needed to thank God.

We shared a verse from Psalms 23: “The Lord is my shepherd…Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me…”

Later, we also trusted that God would provide an alternate route back for us. We found one.

This whole experience helped me realize that God was there with us the whole time, an ever-present help in times of need.

I can never thank God enough, knowing that he saved all of our lives.

Later that evening, we arrived back at the ADP. Though distressed, we were happy to have returned safely.

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