Typically I wouldn't write a blog like this. But I just can't stop thinking about it.

I talk to my friend, Sheritha, from Holland several times a week. We usually just chit-chat, and she keeps me up-to-date on the latest with the church over there. In fact, she's living in my old room above the church now, which is fun for me to go back and visit!

I heard the usual "pop" sound of her sending me an IM on Friday. She said I'd never guess who just stopped by the church. 4 years ago, when I lived there, the church came in contact with a guy my age, named El, who seemed to have hit a bit of bad luck. He needed money, a place to stay, and a way to get back to his girlfriend in Amsterdam. The men decided to let him sleep at the church (I was upstairs...two locked doors away) for a couple nights until they could find a way to get him on his feet. He was generally nice and pleasant....a bit on the quiet side. There were times where there was an inexplicable awkwardness in talking to him, but no big issues. He was extremely private and very hesitant to talk about his (understood) bad past. He would come to the church services when he could, and engage with all the members. Two of the men of the congregation ended up writing him a recommendation letter for him to get a job in Amsterdam, and he was on his way to be with his girlfriend.

Several months later, he unexpectedly showed up at the church door. I was surprised to see him, and asked why he was back in Eindhoven. I remember him seeming down and discouraged. I invited him into the front room, to get out of the cold. I don't remember our conversation or interactions in detail, but I do remember that I got a really bad vibe from him that day. Something made me afraid to be alone with him...I just couldn't put my finger on it. When he went to the restroom, I quickly grabbed the phone and called Sheritha, who lived just down the street. No answer. I left her a rathered stressed message, telling her to get there as soon as she got the voicemail and NOT to call back...that I just wanted someone with me. I didn't know if she would get the voicemail, but I also didn't want him thinking I suspected anything wrong.

In the midst of our conversation, he said he had something for me. He lit up, and told me it was a surprise! He told me that I would have to hide in one of the classrooms in order for him to go get it and show it to me. *red flag* I decided to buy time by joking with him about how odd it would be for him to have a surprise for me when showing up unexpectedly at the door, not even knowing if I was home. He was persistent, though. I must go in the classroom for him to give me a surprise. I was very careful not to let him think I didn't trust his intentions. I just wanted to appease him until I could think of an exit route.

God beat me to it. Sheritha came right then. I remember a huge wave of relief come over me. She got the message! I pretended to be surprised to see her, as well....and told her that he was about to give me a surprise (imagine entertaining a 3 year old with this act - that's what I was trying to do). She asked him what it was....but low and behold....he told her he didn't have one. That it was nothing. He quickly left after that.

Fast forward 4 years, and he's back at the same church door without warning. When Sheritha answered, he asked if I still lived there. When he found out I didn't, he asked her for the addresses of the two men who had written him the recommendation. She thought that was odd, and gave him their phone numbers instead. He showed up at church on Sunday and mingled. After services, Sheritha noticed both him and one of the church families were gone. With only gut instinct to go on, she sent the family an email, telling them about my experience with him 4 years earlier, and asked them just to be on guard.

Monday morning, Sheritha gets a voicemail from the wife. She was calling to see if Sheritha would check the church and see if El had left his keys behind the day before. A couple hours later, Sheritha gets a call from the husband. This time to ask her for permission to give her number to the they were at his house, taking evidence from El attacking his wife. It seems the "lost key" story was a way for him to get into the house. After the wife called Sheritha about the keys, he began making her feel uncomfortable, so she promptly showed him to the door (she was at the house alone with at least 1 of her 4 children). As she opened up the door, he suddenly slammed it close and began attacking her. He put his hand around her throat, and ended up dragging her from the front door to the kitchen. She managed to grab a filet knife to defend herself, and ended up cutting him multiple times on the hands. However, he still overpowered her and held her to the ground, demanding 1000 euros. After a heavy struggle, he tied her up (all of this with her screaming 1 year old on the floor), took their cash, credit cards, cell phone, landline (to keep her from calling anyone), and her husband's bike (as he does not know how to drive) and left.

I don't know the details of how she got untied, or how soon the police were called - but when they got there, household items were scattered all over the place, and there was blood in several rooms (mostly his blood). She has several cuts and bruises, but is generally physically okay.

There are 2 reasons I share this story. The first is that this family, especially the wife, needs your prayers. Though the physical aspect will heal fairly quickly - I cannot imagine the psychological healing will come near as fast. The husband has already sent out an email, asking for prayers on behalf of El....that he turns his life to God. I sorely wish we had more men in this world like that husband. They apparently now know where El is, but have not yet arrested him. I'm uncertain of the procedure that must be followed over there by the police, and can only hope he is taken into custody soon.

The second reason I write this - is that it could have been me, and I can't stop thinking about that. I've spent the past 24 hours wondering what would have happened had I not called Sheritha and had she not come. God protected me that day, and I'm ever-so-thankful the crime yesterday did not result in death. El must have major issues going on in his life, and if the family he violated is willing to forgive him so quickly after the incident - then God is working through them, as well.

Pray also for Sheritha's sense of security, as she texted the wife during the day about El, not knowing that he had possession of the phone. As he obviously knows where she lives, pray that he is quickly taken into custody, or that her sense of safety is renewed.

Here is a link to news report written about the incident (though you may want to become fluent in Dutch before proceeding):
3 Responses
  1. Alyson Says:

    Oh scary scary scary Amber. I have a "no soliciting" sign on my door because I hate having people I don't know come to my door. A girl at my in-law's church answered the door for a man who attacked, beat, and raped her, tied her up and burnt the apartment down. She made it out alive, but BADLY scarred inside and out.

    Yuck. So scary for you and your friend. I will definitely be praying for peace for everyone.

  2. Abs Says:

    wow. God sure did protect you that day. That is scary! I hope they find him soon,so Sherita can feel safer. And I pray for the wife there, that she will heal.

  3. You are a very smart girl. I'm glad you listened to your instincts. And I'm thankful that Sheritha was wise enough to do as the message said, immediately! God bless Sheritha for warning the family. What a great woman and friend. I am sorry that your friend got attacked. I know that will be hard to recover from.

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