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Angels In the Line of Fire

I like to know that angels are at school. Real angels, not just the metaphoric ones we refer to when we talk about a great teacher, or a kind staff worker. No, those are great, but I want to know that angels can supernaturally appear to protect the vulnerable and quash evil. This is after all, one of the promises of our Bible.

The Al-Quaida had long planned the attack against the Christian boarding school in northern Pakistan. Today it happened. In her rush to rescue her son, Juliete came face to face with a terrorist who immediately opened fire. A barrage of bullets descended on her.

Proof that angels are real and do materialize with such strength came to me from a most unusual visitor to Hamilton earlier this month, a compassion worker from Kabul, Afghanistan named Juliete Visitacion, who with her family is currently touring local churches to remind us not to forget those who work for healing.

On August 5, 2002, Juliete was visiting her children at their boarding school, Murree Christian School in northern Pakistan, at the foot of the Himalayas. A beautiful, but remote school location chosen for safety, the Visitacion children and more than 100 other students and staff were unaware that four Al-Quaida terrorists had taken up residence in the neighbouring village and had spent two months preparing a suicide mission to attack them.

On a rainy August morning the terrorists moved purposefully through the campus, knowing where the guards were and ambushed and killed two of them before the boarding school staff saw the gunmen coming and locked the doors.

… they made a mad rush toward a nearby building for cover.

The Visitacions are originally from the Philippines. Juliete is a nurse who, with her engineering husband Danny, has worked 12 years in Afghanistan. They are all too familiar with danger. When she heard gunshots on the compound she joined a teacher and his grade six class as they made a mad rush toward a nearby building for cover.

Running up the stairs, Juliete noticed two Pakistani men in uniform beside her, rifles tucked on their shoulders, looking her in the eye and smiling. She stopped her retreat when she heard her son's voice calling, "Mom, are you okay?" Turning to retrace her steps to find him, she came face to face with a terrorist who immediately opened fire at her.

"I raised my hands to cover my head, I felt the bullets go through my hair, through my body, my feet danced and jumped around them, and at that moment I could feel someone with metal armour stopping the bullets from hitting me, it was like a shield all over me," said bright-eyed Juliete. Dozens of bullets whizzed about her, even picking the glasses off her face. "I raised my hands just a little too high over that shield and that's when the bullets hit me." She pointed to an obvious wound where two bullets entered her wrist and sent gushing blood from her arm.

When Danny retraced the scene where Juliete was attacked, he counted more than 25 bullet holes, and to this day, her children hang on to bullets they collected that were fired at their mom. It's a collection that gives proof that angels are real, they can shield us from the deadliest evil. Among the many eyewitnesses that day, no one can recall seeing the two Pakistani men with rifles that Juliete claimed walked beside her and smiled reassuringly – a custom no authentic Pakistani man would engage in with a strange woman, says Juliete. Visible only to this brave mother in chase of her son, these men were her angels.

… her children hang on to bullets they collected that were fired at their mom.

Students who survived that day have written their memories in a book called Angels in the Rafters. The title is a tribute to the testimonies of students and staff who heard singing, coming strong and clear from the rafters above them as they hid for safety. A high voice, lead the chorus, "Our God is an awesome God. … It was faint at first; then it became clearer. It was while the shooting was still going on … I thought somebody had put atape or CD on to calm us down. It was really nice choir music coming from the rafters. When the day was over, I told my friends and they said they had heard it too. That's why I know there were angels in the rafters," wrote grade eight student Becca Couch.

Six Pakistanis working at the school were killed that day. Gifts from around the world have since established a fund to help the 15 children who were left without fathers as a result of the attack, and to pay for the school to relocate to safer quarters. I can't explain the mystery of why these workers would have had to die when there is proof angels were on the grounds that day, but it adds to the evidence that there is a war against goodness. United Nations statistics show that attacks, murders and kidnapping of compassion workers have more than doubled since September 11th launched the war on terror, and offer compelling evidence that trust in the supernatural care of God is needed more than ever.

Lorna Dueck, a former host of 100 Huntley Street, is an independent writer on faith in secular life and host of the weekly program Listen Up TV on Global and CTS.

This article is taken from the Jan 2003 broadcast of the Listen Up segment on 100 Huntley Street, a Crossroads Television production.




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