I was attacked in church. Physically assaulted. I swear I’m telling the truth—three fingers in the air, scouts honor.
Some of you are freaking out right now. Some of you who know me personally are running through the Rolodex of your minds trying to figure out who it was. You don’t know them. I promise.
I was traveling to churches and speaking about my ministry. I was seated in the pew, listening as someone gave the standard announcements—Sunday School picnics, bake sales—you know the kind. The pews around me were empty, and I was focusing on the upcoming message. Suddenly a family walked in and sat behind me. A middle aged mother and her two teens began to participate in worship. From the sounds behind me I was guessing the young girl had some special needs. As I turned around to greet them during that time-honored tradition known as “handshaking time,” I saw that my guess was accurate. I smiled and introduced myself and she nodded back. As we sang songs she became very agitated. Later I would learn that she wasn’t used to anyone sitting near her, other than her family. Maybe they should have given me a pre-service warning.
All of sudden it happened. Right there in church. Mid-song. She grabbed my hair with the grip of She-Ra, and started pulling. Perhaps if she’d only had a few strands of hair, or even small sections, my hair would have just vacated my head and there wouldn’t have been a problem. But she was using both hands and had about half my hair in fists. When she started yanking, my body almost flew backwards over the pew. You know those crime scene dramas when some man grabs a woman by her hair and drags her across the parking lot, before stuffing her in a car? I felt their pain.
No one really knew what to do. The worship leader tried to focus his eyes elsewhere. The family across the aisle staunchly stared straight ahead. The pastor seemed oblivious. The unfortunate mother behind me tried to wrest my head from her daughter’s hands, but wasn’t having much luck. This girl was strong! If they could channel her strength she would have a good chance of winning her high school the state wrestling championship. The mother was starting to panic. She kept whispering “I’m so sorry,” while trying to pry her daughter’s fingers lose. Eventually, after about three minutes, I was able to break free. Huge hunks of my hair hung limply in the girls hands. Finally, an usher decided to get involved, and he came to help escort the poor girl out, who was now screaming at me. I held my head in my hands, tears streaming down my face, trying to compose myself. Trying to act like it was no big deal that my head was literally bleeding.
I was definitely a “special” guest speaker that day.
In addition to being incredibly painful, it was truly a very funny day. (Once the swelling came down.) But it also begs the question . . . what would you do in that situation? How would you minister to both a beautiful young girl whom God created with her own special gifts, talents, and needs AND the unsuspecting guest in your service?