Many years ago, I happened to be inside a bank during an armed hold up. It was a frightening and traumatic experience for all of us who were there that day…
It was during their end-of-day trading. Apparently the first half hour of trading and the last half hour are known in the industry to be the highest risk times. Back in those days, the bank was completely open. All staff were visible except the manager who had a small cubicle in one corner. The inside of the bank was rectangular in shape, with all the staff behind an open ‘L’ shaped counter between the staff and customer area – tellers on the long side, and where customers went for general bank enquiries on the short side. Two tellers worked side-by-side inside each partitioned cubicle.
It was busy inside the bank and I happened to be standing on the short side of the ‘L’ shape, deep in conversation with two other people. It was just on closing time and the front door actually had just been locked. The assistant manager was letting people out as they finished their transactions. Banks back in those days were noisy affairs with the hum of people and machines working busily, and even more so at the end of the day. The first indication that I had of a problem was a sudden awareness of complete and shocking…
I looked over at the staff. The first person I happened to look at was a strapping young man, say around 19 or 20 years old, huddled under a desk. As I looked at him in puzzlement, he put his finger on his lips, mimed a ‘shhhh’ and gestured to me to get down. The other staff that I could see had all taken similar action, sheltering where they could. I felt confused and still had absolutely no idea what was happening (up until then, the idea of a robbery had not even occurred to me) and I couldn’t see anything either, but I distinctly remember feeling very vulnerable, like a sitting duck standing up there in the open and in easy firing range of whatever trouble was afoot. It was extremely uncomfortable. You’ve heard the saying, ‘time stood still’? This was one of those occasions when time seemed to elongate and stretch out. But all of this happened in a split instant.
Obediently and instinctively, I immediately crouched down.
Then looking up, I realised the other two people with me had not seen his gesture and I felt a little silly and perhaps a little cowardly crouching down while they stood up as the sitting ducks and obviously at risk. Feeling protective of them and still confused and very wary as there was still no indication of what was happening, I stood up again, and whispering quietly to them, we all moved together calmly, unobtrusively, and slowly down the counter and as far away from that long ‘L’ shaped side as we could and towards the wall.
We were still sitting ducks, but now at least there were three of us.
Everywhere around us was still filled with that eerie, breath-holding, very tense silence.
Shortly after that, the police arrived and the rest became a confused jumble of people, tears, interviews, conversation, and reflection. We found out later what had happened was this. A man had approached one of the young tellers, possibly a trainee, with a note. The young, bewildered teller had not known what to do or how to respond. The teller next to her witnessed her hesitation and came over to see what was happening, looked at the note and politely told the man, “I’m sorry, sir, you will have to go over to the side and complete a withdrawal form!” :o
Upon which, he had scowled and menacingly waved his hand, hidden under his jacket, at them both and they began to shakily comply with his request to ‘put the money in the bag’.
Behind the gunman was another customer waiting to be served. This was also the days before central queuing. Back then, customers would line up in front of each teller like they do at the grocery checkout, looking at each other’s backs. We found out later the other customer was a father with six children. One very brave man. He must have observed what was happening in front of him and decided to risk rugby-tackling the gunman to the ground. By this time, most of the rest of the customers had thinned out considerably. The assistant manager was still standing at the door and his attention must have then been drawn to what was happening. Abandoning his post and moving swiftly down that long ‘L’ shape, he joined the other customer and jumped onto the gunman’s back. Together, they held the gunman down for many tense moments until the police arrived.
Smash cut. Change of scene.
As we speed exponentially towards the last days, now more than ever we need to pray for our Godly leaders who are holding fast to Biblical truth and authority. Standing up there in the open and facing heavy enemy sniper fire, loudly proclaiming Jesus.
- Not Jesus PLUS (as the cults do – you need Jesus PLUS this other book; or you need Jesus PLUS good works; etc).
- Not Jesus MINUS (as the liberal ‘progressives’ do – Jesus is okay, just cut this bit of the Bible out – it’s no longer relevant; or God didn’t mean that; man knows better; all ways lead to God; etc).
They are the sitting ducks of our generation. The Elijahs and the Daniels of our time. More and more, they are coming under vicious attack by increasingly confident bullies who harass and intimidate them and anyone else who supports them. Let’s get out from under our desks! They should NOT be standing up there facing the enemy’s fire alone. They need us, the body of Christ, more than ever to support them, to speak out and to stand with them – and especially in prayer, where the real battle is fought.
Will you join us in praying for our Godly leaders, our pastors (whether it’s our local pastors or more well known names); teachers; evangelists; apologists; leaders of Christian organisations; Christian media (TV, radio, etc); Christian artists (singers, authors, etc); Christian politicians – who are standing up boldly and courageously for Christ on the front line? And pray also that they will keep that knife edge of faithfulness, that they will stand firm, and that the evil one will not be able to steal their crown.
Who will you be praying for this week?
Please share with all intercessors…
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