Pastor Tana prayed, asked again, argued, prayed more, asked more clearly, and still the soldiers refused.
Lawrence Tanabose, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Solomon Islands, was enjoying a fairly normal day in paradise when his cell phone buzzed.
The calling number was listed as “Blocked,” so he answered tentatively, expecting a fake offer on a condominium in Bora Bora. Instead, a scratchy voice asked, “Are you Pastor Tanabose, the Seventh-day Adventist?”
“I am Pastor Tana,” he replied.
“Hold then for ‘X,’ the prime minister of Australia.”
Pastor Tana held, wondering what kind of trouble God was getting him into now! A few moments later a new voice came on the cell phone.
“Pastor Tana, this is X, the prime minister of Australia. As you know, we are having a bit of a problem with the rebels in the Solomon Islands right now.”
There was a pause, so Pastor Tana said, “Yes, sir.”
“I understand that you know everyone in the Solomon Islands. Is that right?”
“No, sir, but I do know most of them.”
“Do you know the rebel leader? I hear that he may be one of your members.”
“Yes, I do know him. We have many members on all sides of the conflict, sir.”
“My people tell me that they have a message for the rebel leader, but they have been unable to reach him. I would like to talk with him personally. Might you be able to make that happen?”
Pastor Tana thought for a moment. He was always careful to stay out of political conflicts. His church members needed to know that he was on God’s side only. But maybe this was a time he could help.
“I am willing to try, sir. What would you like me to do?”
“Thank you, Pastor. Please go right back to your house. A man in a helicopter will bring you a coded cell phone with instructions about how the rebel commander can use it to call me on a safe line. Please pick up the phone from the man in the chopper and deliver it to the rebel leader for me. That’s all. Can you do that?”
“Yes, sir. I will do my best.”
Pastor Tana closed his cell phone, turned his car around, and headed home. He arrived about the same time as a camouflaged Apache helicopter landed in a field near his home. A man dropped from the helicopter and ran toward Pastor Tana with a small package.
“The directions are in the package, Pastor. This will save many lives! Thank you!”
The helicopter flew away and Pastor Tana began driving toward the barricades between the government and rebel soldiers. He knew the way well, since he had members on both sides and often needed to cross the lines to minister to the churches.
This time was different. The government barricade was staffed by a soldier who refused to let him pass.
“Not today, Pastor. Something big is up, and we have had to close the barricade. You may not pass.”
Pastor Tana prayed, asked again, argued, prayed more, asked more clearly, and still the soldiers refused. Pastor Tana turned around, drove to a small park, and prayed more. Much more.
“God, it seems You need my humble help today, but the soldiers disagree. What shall I do? Stay or go?”
God’s answer was so clear that Pastor Tana thought there was someone with him in the car!
Pastor Tana went, his small yellow car bouncing over the muddy road back to the barricade. The soldiers and their superiors refused passage again.
So Pastor Tana put his small yellow car in first gear and drove directly at the barricade.
The soldiers shouted and warned.
Pastor Tana shifted into second gear.
More loud shouting.
Pastor Tana’s small car broke through the barricade! The breach was greeted by the soldiers firing bullets from machine guns at Pastor Tana’s car—and at Pastor Tana.
However, the car sped on across the “no man’s land” toward the rebel barricade. A rocket propelled grenade now joined the weaponry, and the soldiers saw Pastor Tana’s car explode into burning shards of broken metal.
The rebel soldiers lifted their barricade quickly as Pastor Tana, in his untouched car, arrived on the other side. Moments later Pastor Tana and the rebel leader met in rebel headquarters and Pastor Tana delivered the package from the prime minister of Australia. Nothing fancy; just “Here. The prime minister wants you to use this cell phone to call him. The directions are in the package. God bless. Must be important.”
Pastor Tana smiled, prayed, then drove to a local market, where he purchased six bags of fresh groceries, only the finest!
Pastor Tana waved to the rebel soldiers from his little yellow car. They raised the barricade and let him pass.
On the government side, the barricade stood broken, just as he had left it.
Pastor Tana parked his car near the government command post, picked up two bags of groceries, and walked toward the soldiers who had tried to kill him about an hour before.
The soldiers stood, as if frozen, against the back wall of the command center.
Twice Pastor Tana returned to his car until he had delivered all six bags of groceries to the guards who still stood silently, mouths wide open. Finally, one of the soldiers spoke, his voice stammering with emotion.
“We shot you. We killed you. We saw you and your car die. How are you still here?”
“God needed me to cross today,” Pastor Tana replied. “I’m sorry that made it hard for you. I know you believe you destroyed my car and killed me. You did your job well, but God protected me. Please enjoy the fresh food.”
The next week, after the battle was over and peace returned to the Solomon Islands, five of the government guards came to Pastor Tana and asked to learn more about the God who trades groceries for guns. All five accepted Jesus, and a number became leaders in the island churches.