Thief’s bullet narrowly misses missionary
September 28, 2004
Couple with Missouri ties thankful for God’s protection
By Bob Baysinger
CAMPINAS, Brazil – When John Weaver saw the robber stick the gun against the windshield and fire, he knew that might be the end.
There’s no way the bullet should have missed. The barrel of the gun was only five feet away — but it did.
The only way Weaver, a Missouri Baptist missionary stationed in this South American country by the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board, can explain the ordeal is “God’s hand protecting my life.”
“It was about 11 p.m. Sunday night and Pamela (his wife) and I were sorting things for the packers who would be coming in the morning,” Weaver said in an email interview with The Pathway. “We were both hungry so I drove to a hamburger place and came home.”
In Campinas – as is the case in many areas in Brazil – houses are protected by a gate and bars are on all windows and sometimes doors.
“I had opened the gate, parked the car and was about to close the gate when a young man with a gun told me to back up into the garage,” Weaver said. “He was pretty nervous and kept looking over his shoulder. Eventually, I backed into the garage near the car.
“He asked for my keys, and I asked if he wanted to kill me or wanted money. He replied that he only wanted the car.”
The young man got in the car and pulled out on the street. That’s when he put the gun to the front windshield and fired a shot at Weaver’s head.
“Although he was only about five feet away, I was hit in the head only by a very tiny piece of glass instead of the bullet,” Weaver said. “It was God’s hand protecting my life.”
Inside the house that night were the Weavers’ five children ranging in age from 10 years to 18 months. The family had been in Brazil a little more than a year, studying Portuguese (the Brazilian language) and the country’s culture.
Their ties to Missouri are strong.
Pamela Weaver was born in Missouri. Her father, Bruce Torrence, pastors First Baptist Church, Irondale, and was the subject of a story in the Dec. 2, 2003, edition of The Pathway. Torrence is still battling non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer caused by contact with the chemical Agent Orange more than 30 years ago in Vietnam. He recently had a stem cell transplant using his own stem cells.
John Weaver was born in the state of Louisiana, but moved to the Arnold area in 1997 because of his dad’s job with the railroad. The Weaver family membership was at First Baptist, Arnold, where John served as a deacon before moving to attend Mid-America Baptist Seminary in Memphis.
“God has been working in our lives for many years and had called us to be international missionaries,” Weaver said. “Many things went into that call, including trips to Mexico with Focus on Missions; my aunt was a missionary to China and Taiwan; and godly parents who desired for us to follow His paths for our lives.”
The night of the shooting in Campinas, the path led to the local police station to file a report.
“Police only come if the robber is still at the house,” John Weaver said. “There were several other men at the police station that night that also had their cars stolen. I had an opportunity to present a full Gospel presentation to two of them and was also able to talk with a police officer who was an evangelical.
“God is still God despite circumstance,” he added, “and all things are about glorifying Him.”
He said his family is still praying for the man who stole the car and fired the shot.
“We’re praying that he will read the Bible and tracts that were in the car,” Weaver said, “and that he will accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior.”
The Weaver family has now moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, one of the largest and most international cities in the world.
“The international community of Sao Paulo already knows the language and culture of their own people group and could begin sharing the life-saving message of Jesus Christ without language school,” Weaver said. “We believe if Sao Paulo can be reached, the entire world can be reached – and that is our desire!”
Weaver believes his life was spared to be a “mobilizer.”
“Brazil is an open country and it is easy for people to come here for mission trips,” Weaver said. “We also have the freedom to share about our work openly. We hope to mobilize Brazilians to go and share the Gospel throughout the world because there are many places that they can go that we as Americans cannot.”
Weaver said details are being finalized to form a strategic partnership with First Baptist Church, Arnold. Through this partnership, many opportunities for mission involvement in Sao Paulo will be available to Missouri Baptists.
“We have had wonderful prayer support from the United States,” Weaver said. “What an opportunity we are given in our weakest hour to see His strength demonstrated in and through us. Missionaries all around the world need faithful prayer supporters who are willing to pray at whatever hour when prompted by the Holy Spirit.
“That bullet should have taken my life, but the Lord still had a purpose for me to be here. May I always be faithful to His call.”