Jesus Did It!
NO TAXES REQUIRED
By: Sharion Vandervort
Please Help Share God's Best News Gospel
Mr. Danny, as we called him, was a special agent with the Attorney General’s Office in our state, a retired city police officer, and an all-round great guy. The only tough thing about him was in the area of security …
"Always keep your money in your front pocket."
"Do not keep anything valuable with you."
"Don’t take unnecessary chances."
"Keep your eyes on each other and those around you."
We listened and followed instructions to the letter because we trusted his judgment and experience. He had been doing missions trips since 1983, including 40 trips out of the country and has been to 21 countries, so he was as close to an expert as anyone we would ever meet.
This year, our MAPS (Missionary Assistance and Placement Service) team went to Lima, Peru, a beautiful city on the coast of South America that is the home to nine million people—a lot of them are poor people; a lot of them are thieves! We were being especially careful and everyone who lived in Lima and worked with our team expressed an interest that we KNOW the liability of being in this city. It had been a wonderful trip. God had moved in so many ways. We knew He was close to our group and we could feel the prayers of our families and friends at home. We also could sense, as we prayed, the spiritual warfare that continued day and night. In spite of the opposition, there were 42 Peruvians who accepted Christ as Savior and 10 water Baptisms during the week as we worked to build a church for them.
On the last Friday, Missionary Mike and Mr. Danny gave us some time off to go souvenir shopping and sight seeing. Since some of us had given Mr. Danny our money for safe keeping, he hesitantly removed his briefcase from the hotel safe, and off we went. The briefcase contained all of his personal effects, car keys, and cell phone; $2800 in cash, and all of the team’s important paperwork, like passports and personal information. We took our personal money and carefully tucked it into our FRONT pockets. A couple of hours later, we stopped for lunch at McDonald’s (yes, Peru has McDonald’s, Starbucks, Pizza Hut…) and headed for an upstairs room, so that all twenty-nine of us could sit together. Missionary Mike proceeded to take orders for everyone. Mr. Danny stood up for a moment to help and when he sat back down, the briefcase was gone—stolen! No one on the team saw a stranger enter or leave the area. The subject must have crawled under the table with people all around! We were in MAJOR LEAGUE trouble! How could we get through Customs or board our flight for home without the paperwork or our passports? The police and security guards wanted to help, but the security camera at McDonald’s was broken. Literally, we did not have a clue!
Mr. Danny had us return to the hotel while he headed over to the American Embassy to seek help. We hit our knees and the most intense prayers started going up for our rescue. Each of us was given a special Bible verse for our protection before we left home. The Lord sent these verses for us. Here are a few:
Psalm 21:11: For He orders His angels to protect you wherever you go.
Psalm 91:14: "Because he loves me," says the Lord, "I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name."
Proverbs 19:23: The fear of the Lord leads to life, and whoever has it rests satisfied; he will not be visited by harm.
Exodus 33:14: The Lord said, "I will go with you and give you peace."
Isaiah 41:10: Fear not; for I am with you. Be not dismayed; for I am your God. I will strengthen you; yea, I will help you; yea, I will uphold you with the right hand of My righteousness.
Psalm 27:1: You, Lord, are the light that keeps me safe. I am not afraid of anyone. You protect me, and I have no fears.These verses provided the security and the faith we needed during the hours that followed. The American Embassy was no help; the Ambassador that possibly could help, was out-of-town until Monday. Heart-sick, Mr. Danny left the Embassy and headed for the Police Station. Confident that God would make a way, Mr. Danny started making phone calls to every one he thought could help rescue the team from Peru. Finally, he received clearance to get the team back to Atlanta without passports. That was not God’s final answer though—man could take credit for that solution. God was the one with the miracles, and he proceeded to show us! .
An hour or so later, the desk clerk at the hotel received a call from a park ranger approximately twenty five miles from Lima. The ranger was inquiring if that hotel had a group of Americans staying there. The desk clerk gave the call to another missionary who called Mr. Danny at the police station with the news. The park ranger had found a receipt with the hotel phone number on it in a Ziploc bag with 29 passports and stack of important papers. All the items were in a black garbage bag on a park bench. When Mr. Danny went to the ranger’s location with the police to recover the items, he was awe struck by what he saw! The bench was about 250 yards from a large cross on the hill, and the female park ranger looked more like an angel than anyone Mr. Danny had seen before! We all knew she was indeed an angel. The police were also amazed. They said that this just does not happen with the recovery of items, especially passports, because they sell for about $2500.00 US dollars on the black market!
We finally got to the airport where we faced the last hurdle, although most of our team had no idea we were still in a dilemma. At the airport, Mr. Danny had to pay a $935.00 departure tax for the team. One problem that had not been resolved by the return of our paperwork and passports was this exit tax. All the money, about $2800, and Mr. Danny’s personal effects were gone. What would happen as we made our way through Customs at the airport? God knew our needs and His promises to protect and provide for us stayed true. We heard the man at the counter say in broken English, "No taxes required!" God brought our team home exactly on time. God is good…all the time!
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