Can God Save Your Life?


By Liz Campbell

“We run the place ya know” said the gunman, casually revealing his semi-automatic weapon with extended magazine. The midnight air, pregnant with tension and the smell of weed, wrapped darkness around both him and my husband on the deserted road leading down into Majesty Gardens.[1]

David drew a breathe, “Actually, God runs the place,” he said calmly, his eyes carefully reading every flicker on the gunman’s face.  As he spoke, two more men emerged from the shadows, one close, one farther off.

“So can God save your life?” the gunman glared menacingly, drawing closer.

“Yes” David said, meeting his gaze, “He can.”

Did he believe those words in that moment? He said he did, but did I, soon after when he arrived home to tell me what had happened?

As the words left his mouth, another car turned into the alleyway further ahead, its headlights draping light over the darkness. The bright light seemed to confuse the gunman. He didn’t know where to look, and he and his friends grew visibly agitated.

“Squeeze it now man, squeeze it,” urged one of his friends. But the gunman, confused by the lights like an animal in a headlight glare, had already moved his pistol from my husband to the oncoming car.

Seeing his opportunity, my husband calmly put the engine into gear and drove off past the oncoming car. It was only after he was around the corner and on the open stretch that he began to shake all over. When he returned home to our one room flat in Trenchtown and told me his news, calm had almost returned to his body.

But in me the storms were just beginning.

I had left my family half a planet away and come here to work alongside my new husband in Trenchtown, Jamaica. What if Jesus didn’t have our backs? That night led me on a long journey with God, trying to find reassurance against a backdrop of violence, crime and fear.

Ten years later we are still here, and I am still on this journey.

Violence has a long history and a short fuse here in Jamaica, especially in the inner city communities where we work. Despite a population of just 2.9 million people, Jamaica has one of the highest (per capita) homicide rates in the world. In 2015 alone there were 1,205 murders (that’s more than three each day), 1069 shootings, 589 aggravated assaults, 577 rapes, 1,904 robberies and 1,777 break-ins[2]. In 2013 there were ten thousand cases of reported child abuse[3].

My husband David has been caught in crossfire twice (once with an armoured vehicle), held up at gunpoint twice, witnessed a beheading, carried victims of abduction and rape to counsellors, lost friends to violence, spoken at the funerals of the youth he was working with, and counselled gunmen against retaliation in heated situations. “Can God save your life?” is a very real question for us as a family and one that I have faced again and again over the last ten years.

I recently asked my husband this question again, and without hesitation his emphatic answer was “Yes!” He can say this so confidently because his experience so far has proven God’s faithfulness in this area. God can save his life because He already has. We work alongside missionaries who have reported bullets “pinging” away from them as they were caught in gun fire, as though an invisible shield was protecting them. After my husband was caught in cross fire between an armoured police vehicle and gunmen one evening, a friend overheard some young men in the community saying “Bwoy, ‘dat white man must really a’serve God, because so many bullets a’fly and not even one catch ‘im!”

So, if we work for God does that mean we are invincible to human violence?

I wish I could tell you that I could confidently say that God will always protect us from everything we fear, from all pain and violence. But I can’t. It is true that He has. I and my husband and many other missionaries we know can retell many stories of Gods protection: bullets missing their target, gunmen avoided, lives saved. But it doesn’t always end this way.

In April of this year two American missionaries, Randy Wentzel and Harold Nichols, were violently murdered here in Jamaica. Despite the fact that Jamaica is in the top five nations for homicide rates in the world, their deaths shocked Jamaicans. Last year in Haiti another missionary, Roberta Edwards was shot and killed as she sat behind the wheel of her car. July this year, trainee missionaries Jamison and Kathryn Pals and their three very young children were killed in a car accident on their way to language school in preparation for the mission field.

Does this mean that somehow God let them down? Did Jesus not have their backs just as my deepest fears suspect?

The truth is actually much larger than either of these answers tell us.

God doesn’t promise to save our life. He can save our life. But the Bible does not promise safety, comfort or stressless living. What it does promise is God’s presence with us.

Daniel walked through the lions den, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego went through the furnace. God was with them, walking closely alongside them, strengthening them and encouraging them. In these cases God did save their lives; yet the prophet Isaiah was cut in two, and James was killed while Peter miraculously walked out of Jail. There were many cases of lives miraculously spared among the early Christians, but all but one of the disciples would eventually suffer a violent death.  In the first 200 years of Christianity four million Christians were killed under the Roman empire.

Had God saved just a few, only to neglect four million others?

No. In all these cases God kept his promise, the promise of His presence with us. Jesus knows what pain and suffering feels like, intimately from inside the frail shell of human existence. He has done it and when each one of us walks through white waters of any kind, he is walking with us, walking in us, walking us through, out into either every day life or eternal life.

Randy Wentzel, Harold Nichols, Roberta Edwards and the Pals family were not alone when they were taken violently from this world. Jesus was with them, there, in their last moments, walking closely alongside them, strengthening them and encouraging them just as he had been throughout every other day of their entire life and ministry. They were never alone.

The gunman’s question ‘Can God Save Your life?’ holds within it an assumption. His question assumes that life is all we have to lose and that he and his gun ultimately have power over this. This gunman and his friends lived in the reality of the darkness of this world, a choice which ultimately led to their demise less than a year after their interaction with my husband. But we live in another reality.

In that moment, when the gunman asked that question, gun in hand, David had to choose which reality he would live in. He had to choose where his eyes fell and what his heart believed. Which was more real in that moment, the barrel of a gun or the face of Jesus?

Where does real power lie? We often live, as the gunman’s words imply, feeling that our lives are the most important thing we have to lose. We feel that suffering is wrong, like Jesus somehow should prevent us ever experiencing pain or loss. Fear has a power that can easily drown out God’s voice. It is our enemy’s greatest weapon against us.

This year we have seen as never before that we are in a world rocked by violence, a world torn apart by war, pain and fear. An estimated 115-250 people a day have lost their lives in the Syrian conflict, 80 died in France under the wheels of a terrorists truck, 49 shot dead in Orlando. Teenage gunmen, terrorist rampages, racial violence, police shootings: our world is bracing for the next suicide bomber to blow themselves up for religious extremism, for someone to mow down victims in the name of prejudice and hate.

Theologian Tom Wright writes,

“The Christian Vocation is to be in prayer, in the Spirit, at the place where the world is in pain, and as we embrace that vocation, we discover it to be the way of following Christ, shaped according to his messianic vocation to the cross, with arms outstretched, holding on simultaneously to the pain of the world and the love of God.”

Jesus is no stranger to suffering. What can we say to a suffering world if we flee from suffering ourselves? Like Jesus, we are called to give our lives for love. Not in comfortable Christendom, reading books about faith, but in the gritty, messy, sometimes violent battleground of human life, living in the reality where God is King, no matter what the outcome of the battle in front of us may be. The war is already won.

Can God save your life? He has. Jesus is with us; The Son of God who laid the foundation of the universe. A gunman with a pistol looks pretty small from that perspective. No bullet will take you without God already having prepared that moment from the beginning of time to be your home-coming to Him, with Him, and in Him. Jesus is with us. He can save our life, and He can walk alongside us as we live and as we die (as He did) for love.

If we are brave, we are not brave because we presume we are invincible. We are brave because we live in a reality where God is King and Jesus is walking with us all the way.


For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. So do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me his prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.

2 Timothy 1:7-8 New International Version – UK


[1] An Inner City Community of Kingston Jamaica

[2] Jamaica crime and safety report by the U.S. Overseas Security Advisory Council.

[3] Karyl Walker, Jamaica Observer, June 17th 2014


lizcampbellLiz Campbell is an Australian, married to a Brit, and living in Jamaica. Together Liz and her husband David have been working with vulnerable inner-city Jamaican children, families, and communities for the past ten years (through the mission organisation ‘Fusion’) while also homeschooling their two beautiful children. Liz’s passion is for human beings, particularly restoring hope and wholeness to broken lives and broken communities. She writes monthly about life as a human being at: seeingbreathingliving.comFurther stories, photos and information about David and Liz’s work is available at:

Missions in a Conflict Zone


A year and a half ago our family lived through another war.  For over a month there were missile attacks launched against most of the country, with violence and terrorism in the city where we live. Practically speaking, this meant trips to the bomb shelter with our kids, avoiding certain parts of the city, and one scary time on the highway with my family when a rocket exploded in the air overhead.

We lived in an elevated state of anxiety, with sharp spikes of fear and adrenaline that flared up during each new serious incident.  Many times we could not immediately process these events because we had to keep it together emotionally for the sake of our children.

When people realize where we live, inevitably the comment will come up: “I don’t know how you did it.” Others ask, “How did you live through the war?” Now, looking back, we see that several things helped us through this time even though we didn’t plan them beforehand or consciously think about them at the time.

I share them with you today because even if you are not going through a physical war, we are all still fighting in a battle that is not against flesh and blood.

  1. Continue with “normal” life and ministry as much as possible. We recognize that there may come a time in any location that you must leave. If that is what your family and agency decide, then that is okay and nothing to be ashamed of. Each country and every conflict brings its own set of challenges and circumstances. For our family, we decided that if we were going to stay, we should continue to minister. That meant traveling to our congregation from a city with a couple of rocket attacks a week to a city with several per day. It helped to continue in our ministries as much as possible, and we were continually reminded of the bigger picture and why God had called us to this place. We also grew very close to our national friends and partners during this time.
  2. Set boundaries for yourself. For my mental health, I had to set boundaries. It was too distressing to go on websites and read the news, so I relied on my husband to tell me things that were pertinent. I chose to focus on things that were in my sphere of influence like my house, children, spouse, and different ministry opportunities.
  3. Take a Sabbath and give yourself some extra margin. Not long before the war began, my husband and I decided to start taking a Sabbath day off. During the conflict, we took more down time than normal. We guarded our one day off per week and took extra time to play with the kids, get wet in the kiddie pool on our terrace, watch more movies, and be silly. We were very intentional that summer about our margin time and gave each other permission to take some extra time to do fun things.
  4. With point #3 in mind: Do a project as a family. We planted a garden. It was really a family undertaking from buying the seeds in the store to digging up the soil to plant. It gave us such joy to teach our kids about gardening and how things grow. Every day we would water and watch things begin to sprout. It was a small thing, but it went a long way. It was fun for the kids to compare the sizes of the watermelons every day.
  5. Also with point #3 in mind: Teach yourself a new skill. My husband is an avid outdoorsman and has always wanted to learn to fly fish. He ordered a fly rod, watched videos online, and went to the neighborhood park to practice his casting. I am a musician and have always wanted to learn guitar. We took advantage of a ceasefire to travel to a mall, where I bought a cheap instrument so I could teach myself how to play.
  6. Recognize that even though you are healthy and political situations can improve, there are still effects on your mental, emotional, and spiritual state. Although my family and I are physically in good shape, we are not completely unscathed from all we have been through. When there is a siren drill, I hate that my small children run and hide under a desk. Our adrenaline still surges for a split second when a motorcycle revs its engine, because it sounds just like a siren starting.  I don’t like that by age four my son knew what missiles were and that terrorists were launching them to try to kill people. I have to watch my own cynicism towards certain people groups that I have never struggled with before.  It is important to recognize these effects in ourselves and in our children and to counter negative attitudes with appropriate Scriptural responses.  I continually take a personal audit of where I am, spiritually and mentally. What this looks like for me is a weekly meeting with just myself. I look over my calendar for the coming week, plan out what is required of me, ask myself questions, schedule intentional down time, and then give myself and my family lots of grace.
  7. Most importantly, trust God for the peace that passes understanding and rely on Him. There were times of crisis when the only thing I could do was recite scripture. When sirens went off and we had to make decisions, I always had a sense of peace that could only have come from God. We leaned on God and truly came to understand that Jesus is our daily bread. He is enough. We serve an amazing God, and sometimes life is really hard. But when life is hard, he is still good. Always.

Our city and country are once again going through some very turbulent times, and I am constantly reminded of the goodness of God. I take it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time, and rely on His grace and sustainment for me and my family.  Despite the hardships, we acknowledge that there is One who is bigger than all of this. And His faithfulness is great indeed.


Angela lives in the Middle East with her husband and two children. They have served overseas in ministry for three and a half years. Angela teaches music at two different schools and leads worship at their congregation. She enjoys reading, writing, making music, and spending time with friends.