A Chaser Story of Saving a Lady I Have Never Met

It was the morning of my anniversary and my wife's birthday.  I had a window of time to come back to my house after PT (Army Physical Training) and cook my wife a nice breakfast to kick off the day of celebration.  I was just a couple of hours from turning in the Chaplain Duty Phone that I had been manning over the course of 24 hours. 

Periodically, each Army Chaplain at a particularly installation becomes the "on-call", emergency Chaplain for the entire post.  We get all kinds of phone calls on the duty phone.  We'll encounter almost anything.  We get domestic disputes, depressed Veterans, the hungry and broke, those angry at their bosses, the desperate Army mothers wanting to talk to their deployed sons, questions about Chapel services, and people with suicidal ideations that will all call the phone. 

Statistically, most mornings are quiet.  The action usually happens at night.  However, on this particular morning, things got serious....FAST!

As I was cooking up an omelet on my stove and enjoying a hot cup of coffee, the duty phone rang.  I answered it quickly and immediately only heard the sound of heavy breathing on the other end of the phone.  I said "hello" several times, trying to get the person on the other end to talk to me, but it was quiet.  It was a rainy morning, and I could hear the sound of windshield wipers on a car, moving swiftly back and forth.  I asked the mysterious person if they were okay, and that's when I finally got a response.

Real faint, a woman answered me.  She said "no".  I asked her if she was hurt, but at first she still wouldn't give me much information.  She took a few seconds, composed herself and eventually came out with her purpose for calling.

"I am going to kill myself," she said.  "I've got a bottle of pills with me.  I'm going to take them and end my life."

Immediately, all my senses went on high alert.  My heart began to race.  I felt like I was in a race against the clock.  I needed to find some information out on this woman and fast!  I needed to chase her down, find her, and keep her from killing herself.  But, I had very little to go on.  

I remained calm and tried to get more of the story from the woman.  If anything, I wanted to keep her safe until I could figure out how to get to her.  The omelet began to burn on the stove and my coffee quickly went cold, but it didn't matter.  I needed to help this woman!

She only gave me her first name.  She wouldn't tell me her last.  For the purpose of the story, I will just refer to her as "Maria".  Maria told me that she had recently lost everything.  Her husband had left her.  She was in trouble at her job, and her finances were crumbling.  She didn't know where else to turn, so she was planning to end her life.  She had called the Chaplain phone as a last resort, which told me that a part of her truly did want to live.

I was praying like crazy!  In my head I was asking God to give me wisdom and help.  I was asking Him to keep this woman safe.  After talking to her for a few moments she seemed to calm down.  I asked Maria if I could pray with her and she said, "I'd like that." 

I prayed with Maria.  I remember asking God to reveal Himself to Maria.  I asked God to show Maria the truth of His Son Jesus.  I asked God to rescue Maria physically.  When I ended the prayer, I felt like Maria's demeanor had changed for the better.  I continued to try and get some information from her so that I could figure out where she was.  All I knew was her first name.  I knew that she was parked on the side of a busy road in town.  I could hear the rain coming down on her car.  I could faintly hear a train going by over the phone.  I knew she had to be near some tracks.  However, I didn't have an exact location. 

When I asked her if she would tell me her location so that I could get some help to her, she refused.  She claimed she didn't want help.  I even asked her if I could just come and talk to her in person, but she refused.  After a few moments of getting nowhere with her, she grew very quiet.

I tried asking her more questions, but she wouldn't answer.  I could hear her breathing, but she wouldn't say anything.  I feared that she may had actually already taken the pills.  In fact, as my anxiety grew heavier, she began to mumble something that I could not understand.  She sounded like she was getting weak and about to pass out. 

THEN, the phone hung up.

I almost panicked!  I didn't know what I could do.  I immediately called 911 and told the operator everything that happened.  I had only a first name and a phone number from the caller ID.  However, it's amazing what our emergency response can do with just those two bits of information.  I just hoped that it wouldn't be too late!

Twenty minutes later I received a phone call.  It was from a local sheriff.  He said that they were able to trace Maria's location by using her cell number.  Police arrived on the scene, found her alone in her car with a bottle of pills in her lap.  The pills were still unopened.  Maria had not taken them.  Her life was spared.  I was thankful that the sheriff called me and gave me some resolution to Maria's situation.  We don't always get that when we attempt to help someone, especially when it's a complete stranger.

To this day (its been over 2 years), I still have not met "Maria".  I have no idea what impact my intervention or words had, but I know that God saved her life that day.  My hope and prayer is that Maria got help.  My prayer is that something registered with Maria that day and she realized that she needed Jesus in her life and she came to know Him as her Lord and Savior.  I have no idea.  As much as I tried to follow up with her situation, the police would only give me so much information.

Last week, I was in a suicide intervention training.  The class was actually really good.  It got me thinking specifically about Maria.  God has allowed me to work with many suicidal individuals over my time in ministry.  Most of those individuals lived and got help.  Some of those individuals found the Lord!  However, Maria's story is one of the most amazing to me.  No, I don't have the rest of the story.  However, it was amazing what God could do in a matter of minutes with the right people in place, at the right time. 

I firmly believe God calls "chasers".  I'm thankful for those who have "chased" me.  I'm thankful that God values life and makes plans to use people to rescue people.  Every time a person is rescued, I believe we should take note, because I'm certain God is showing us something!