The Gun Would Not Fire
by Max de los Reyes, the Philippines
Fernando Lopez grew up in a town 60 miles south of Manila. Like many in the Philippines, Fernando’s family didn’t have much money. And like many young boys, Fernando quit school to help his parents by selling small items and running errands.
Fernando was active in his church, which helped to ease the boredom he often felt. More than anything, Fernando longed for an education so he could serve God better, but he knew that, humanly speaking, this wasn’t possible.
Then one day, Fernando heard about the 1000 Missionary Movement, a program to train volunteer missionaries who serve God for one year in the Philippines or in one of several countries. Excited, Fernando asked his parents’ permission to join. With their blessing, he applied and was accepted.
The training Fernando received helped to fill his desire for education and prepared him to serve God somewhere in the Philippines. When the training phase ended, he eagerly awaited his assignment to a territory but had mixed emotions when he learned that he was assigned to work in an area some four hundred miles from his home.
Fernando arrived in his new field and began seeking out those who were interested in learning more about God. Soon he was giving several Bible studies a week. Some of the people taking Bible studies lived in a small settlement in the mountains, a four-hour ride by bicycle from where he stayed.
Despite the hardships, Fernando became so involved in his work that he often spent most of his small monthly stipend to buy materials to build a Seventh-day Adventist church, leaving him without money to buy food. This tested his faith and prepared him for even greater tests that would come. But throughout his experience, his faith in God did not waver.
One of Fernando’s converts was Julie Taguinod. She and her sister, Essie, had studied the Bible with Fernando and then attended his evangelistic meetings. Julie and her sister had been baptized recently in spite of the objections of Julie’s husband, Lem.
Fernando knew of Lem’s objections to his wife’s interest in religion. Lem had forbidden Julie to attend church and had threatened to harm her if she continued going. But Julie had stood firm and continued to attend church. Fernando appreciated her sincere desire to honor Christ. And Lem began to ignore Julie’s church attendance. Perhaps he realized that his objections would not stop his wife from following Christ.
Lem was a soldier, and his assignments often took him away from
home. When he was home, he spent much time and money drinking
with his friends.
One day Lem’s buddies began teasing him about his wife’s interest in
religion. “What’s the matter, Lem?” one man challenged. “Couldn’t you
keep your wife from joining that church?” As the teasing grew more
intense, Lem became agitated.
“You’re wrong!” he finally blustered. “I’ll prove to you that I can
control my wife!” With those words Lem swaggered out of the bar and
That afternoon Fernando had been visiting homes of people interested
in studying the Bible. He wasn’t far from Julie’s home when he decided
to stop by to make sure Julie still planned on his visit the next day. As he neared her house, Fernando was startled by a loud blast that soundedlike a gunshot. At first, he was not concerned about it, but when another shot rang out, he looked around to see who was shooting.
Just then he saw Julie running toward him. “Run! Get away!” she
shouted. “Lem’s trying to kill you!”
Fernando took cover behind a large tree. He knew that Lem was an
expert marksman, and if the man wanted to hit Fernando, he could do
so easily. Julie ran back toward the house where she found her husband
angrily yanking at his gun, trying to remove a bullet that had lodged in the barrel. As Julie saw what he was doing, she grew bold. “Lem, you
know that God jammed your gun so you couldn’t hurt Fernando!”
None of Lem’s efforts could unjam the gun. Surprised by this unexpected turn of events, Lem put the gun down and listened to Julie explain
how God had worked to save His messenger from death. When he cooled
down and sobered up, Lem admitted that his wife was right. Fernando
had done nothing to harm him.
Lem no longer objects when his wife and children attend church services. He has accepted Fernando’s friendship and has agreed to Bible
studies. He has told his drinking buddies that he is glad his family
attends church, and they have stopped teasing him.
Those who witnessed the events of that day agree that God truly
worked a miracle to save Fernando’s life. But the change in Lem’s heart
is no less of a miracle.
ASSL L1,L2Q32015 Inside Story