Bullets cannot stop God’s Plan

I was temporarily staying in a rented house in Rustenburg, busy moving out, with only a few things remaining – a bed, TV, fridge and curtains. I was supposed to leave for Canada in a few weeks’ time. At 2 o’clock one Saturday morning (6 February 2020) I was surprised by a bugler switching on the light in my bedroom. Immediately I could see the hatred in his eyes. He told me to cover my head and started rummaging through the room, only finding a cell phone and laptop. Because he had murder in his eyes I ran out of the room. As I entered the passage he shot me the first time, only through the bum. Running down the passage I realised that there was no way to open all the security gates with small keys in time and that he was just going to shoot me in the back. I turned around and grabbed his gun hand because that was all that I could do. During the ensuing struggle for the gun, we inched back towards the room and he just continued shooting me, through the shoulder, the chest, the stomach, upper leg and my arm. Afterwards I now know that the shot through the stomach went through my liver, lung, diaphragm and intestines. This all happened quickly and after being shot five times, I just peeled over and fell forward ending up on the floor. Going down I hit my head against a bedside table in the room but I clearly remember asking God a question: “Lord, am I ready for You to fetch me and save me or are You going to discard me and throw me into the fiery pit of hell?” The bugler got up and stood behind me and I knew the revolver had a shot left so I was waiting for the execution shot from the back. That never came because I know now that I was shot with a 38-special revolver with only five rounds in its cylinder and he already emptied it in me. I remember him moving back to the cupboard, he called me stupid and started rummaging through the cupboard again. And then I passed out.

I was passed out, with five holes in me, bleeding out, for approximately an hour and a half. That alone could kill someone. Something woke me up and I was alone in the house. I tried to get up but could barely move, it was so painful. I had to get up – all the gates and doors were locked, I had the only keys, no one could get in or even knew that I was lying there, I would bleed myself to death. I tried crawling but to no avail. I knew I was still alive, had no idea how much time have passed but I had to get up! I don’t know how but it was like the Lord telling a lame person to get up and walk, I just got up and got out. I have no recollection of passing through the passage, through all the doors and gates, through the garden and into the car. Looking at a photo of the blood on the door posts, I believe that I was carried by an angel. The height of the blood smears is inexplicable, I am not that tall, my arm and shoulder was badly wounded and yet blood can be seen to almost the top of the door posts.

I believe that I was saved that night. Every one of the gun shots were exactly 2 fingers away from being fatal wounds – if the bullet in my arm was 2 fingers higher it would have mutilated my arm and elbow completely, hitting the ulna nerve, the shoulder wound was 2 fingers away from badly damaging my rotator cuff, the bullet in my chest was between my heart and the aorta and one bullet barely missed my hip bone. All of these shots could have maimed me for life. The fifth bullet did a lot of internal damage, ending up lodged in the ribcage after breaking three ribs.

Sitting outside in the car I opened the gate, ran the car into the street and blew the horn of the car because I was too weak to call out. No one reacted. Finally I decided to drive about 4 km to a house where I knew someone. Again I blew the horn of the car and finally, first the neighbours and then my friends came to help me.

The local neighbourhood watch as well as an ambulance were called and at 5 o’clock in the morning I was wheeled into the hospital. More than three hours have passed since I was shot and yet I made it, in spite of losing a lot of blood.

In hospital I was in the capable hands of the medical staff who, with their God given talents could save my life. I am grateful for all they did for me but still give God all the glory.

The following day my friend, Pam van Niekerk, shared what happened in the Rustenburg Methodist Church and people started praying for me.

I spent 14 days in the ICU, completely out of it. Again I think I should have died – I had a high temperature, excessive bleeding, receiving a lot of blood transfusions, going back to theatre at least three times to pack my liver as it was severely lacerated by the bullet… God given mercies in that time was family and the prayer support of so many honest, decent God-fearing people. During those days spent unconscious most of the time, I know that there was an angelic presence, I had a spiritual encounter. What it looks like I don’t know but that I was helped by a spiritual being in goodness and light I am very certain of. I was very aware of God’s presence during that time. God is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent and satan is not, he can only be in one place and time, he cannot enter my thought life. The presence I was aware of was God tending to me.

In my view this incident was the latest of so many times that God saved my life and I firmly believe that He still has plans for me, what those may be I don’t know yet, He is testing my patience while I am awaiting His answer. I always thought that my destiny was in Canada, I had a ticket to leave in March 2020 but was shot in February. This time I reached Amsterdam but was denied access to the Montreal flight and had to return to South Africa. I thought that all my papers were in order but just ran into a very difficult immigrations officer, then again he may have been an instrument in God’s plan to get me back to where He wanted me.

I believe that God knows my whole life – the before, the now as well as the future, the end and the thereafter. The fact that He chose to save me, was His choice, I am a survivor, not because of my own efforts, not because of my own strength but by the Grace of God.

During the recovery process over the last 11 months God has changed my attitude to one of more patience, one of more love and caring. I was fairly arrogant at one stage, I was snobbish. Over the last 4 or 5 years even, God has been changing and forming me, moulding me for the better, He does not make a mess of anything. For the first 8 months after the shooting I was totally dependent on others and God always provided support from family and friends, providing places to stay and all the care that I needed. Comfort and encouragement from fellow believers, as well as from agnostics and atheists, carried me through, it just kept coming without me ever having to ask for it or want for anything. God knew that I could not take care of myself and I will forever be grateful. So many people, known as well as unknown to me, prayed for me. Some people even came and stood by my bedside in the government hospital, which people mostly shy away from, praying for my healing and recovery. I am in awe because we tend to forget people and move on but God blessed me with so many people coming back into my life to care for and support me while recovering in hospital.

I am still waiting to find out what God has saved me for, praying that I will hear and have the wisdom to understand what He wants from me. In the meantime I have no hatred, maybe a little disgruntlement and shock, but no negativity and questions about what happened. Sometimes I still react with fear and shock to triggers like sudden loud noises or an African male surprising me suddenly but that is normal and to be expected. I have given my recovery process to God to heal me as He sees fit. A lot of recovery and improvement of movement has taken place but it is a slow process.

Crime being a major issue in society makes me angry that not enough is done to protect people but I do not blame anyone for what happened to me. I try not to deprive myself of energy and time by wasting it on blame, hate and unforgiveness. I chose to let it go and to spend what time I have left to focus on God’s plan for my life. Sometimes I imagine the perpetrator standing in front of God, saying that he decided to take matters into his own hands and to try and kill one of God’s children. He alone will be held accountable for his choices and actions, as all of the rest of us too. We all make mistakes and sin and will each be held accountable for those choices. Only by asking forgiveness and repenting for our sins can we be saved by Jesus who already paid the price for all of our sins on the cross. God is the ultimate judge and this is not my concern. God’s grace and mercy is enough for me (2 Cor. 12:9) and by faith I can make it to heaven. Hatred and unforgiveness are not going to follow me to heaven.

I am finally ready to say that there is no anger and disgruntlement and that I am ready to move forward. God in His wisdom has granted me this time to move forward without any baggage, He made me so light and saved my life and I thank Him for that. Comparing my life to the hardship of others, I count myself lucky, in spite of this bad experience which I was saved from.

My message to others left with hatred and resentment after similar experiences would be not to give the devil a stronghold by holding on to what happened in the past. By feeding a bad attitude, anger and hate you are only giving satan the victory in your life.

Witnessing about this God given miracle in my life is giving me a new purpose and focus going forward. This menial task may be my duty.

Gerald Spalding

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