Fred Chalker, the founder of Living Water Ministries, Drew Pasler, Jeff Lee, Jackie Brandon, and Doug Burbella, the team doctor, were only a few hours outside Port-Au-Prince airport after having flown into the country with supplies and computers for a new community center when a hundred man-strong crowd materialized, seemingly out of thin air, and blocked the street.
“This is not a normal thing that happened,” said Fred Chalker, who averred that on the hundreds of previous trips he’d taken to Haiti, nothing of the sort had ever occurred.
The group began to become apprehensive when protesters wearing voodoo paint turned their ire on the stopped vehicle in which the missionaries were stranded and began brandishing their weapons.
Shots were fired.
“As I’m reversing that’s when we started hearing the guns firing that were pointed at us,” related Drew Pasler, who tried to steer the group out of the danger zone–to no avail. Shortly thereafter, a blood-soaked Doug Burbella was discovered to have incurred two mortal bullet wounds.
“I heard Doug yell, ‘I’m dying. I’ve been hit.'” Pasler said.
Hope evaporated as a gun-toting protester approached the vehicle and pointed his weapon at Burbella’s head, preparing to squeeze the trigger.
But help arrived.
“A man on a motorcycle just kind of pulled out of nowhere in front of me. And he looked at me and said ‘it’s okay, it’s going to be okay,’ in perfect English,” Pasler remembered.
The man then spoke calmly to the crowd in Creole.
“Everybody around us that had the guns just kind of stopped,” he recalled.
Jackie Brandon remembered the instantaneous change of atmosphere.
“I don’t know what they saw,” she mused, “but they stepped back and the tension was gone.”
The group had no time to discover the fate of the mysterious man who had intervened on their behalf, opting to abandon their vehicle and flee to the nearest medical center on foot.
Doug Burbella, who had requested his friends to record his dying words to his wife and son, was flown to Delray Medical Center in Delray Beach, Florida, and miraculously spared after doctors successfully removed bullets and shrapnel from his face and neck.
“I want people to know that if God can carry me through this with no loss of any function, really, whatever problems you have, they’re equally minuscule,” Burbella said.
“It’s a miracle. It’s a shout-out to say your problem is equally small, and God can carry you through it.”
70 protesters have died in the violence since.