On the 18th of February 2005 Marita Caley experienced something that potentially could destroy her life. But through the grace and the goodness of God, something completely different happened.
Not only did He keep Marita and her friend safe through this ordeal, He turned the day of Marita’s greatest turmoil into the day of her greatest jubilation.
“I was already in full time ministry and during that week I was haunted by a foreboding spirit; a feeling that something bad was going to happen. I have struggled with that spirit many times before, but didn’t realise it at the time,” says Marita.
With that feeling of doom resting on her, Marita knelt at her bedside and prayed. “I told God it didn’t matter what happened to me; I am His, I love Him. That Friday evening a friend and I went to attend dance classes in Rosebank. When we returned home we continued to chat in the car while waiting in front of my house on another friend that was going to spend the night at my place.
“Suddenly a car sped towards us, its lights shining brightly. For a moment I thought it might be my friend trying to be funny. But then I saw that it wasn’t her car. The next moment three men surrounded the car and banged on the windows with crude, homemade guns, telling us to get out.”
Immediately Marita was filled with a holy anger and bravely said to the man closest to her, “I rebuke you in the name of Jesus”. His response was to put a gun to her head and to tell her to be quiet or he would kill her.
The two women was pushed into the back of the car and told to lie low so that they couldn’t be seen by passing vehicles. One of the men sat in the back with them, the other two in front.
“They told us they wanted our jewellery, our bank cards, everything. The man that was in the backseat with us, got crazy and fired a shot through the window. I felt the shattered glass fall on me. My friend and I prayed the whole time. They told us to be quiet, but we prayed.”
The car came to a stop and the women were pulled out of the hi-jacked vehicle and stuck into the small boot of an old, battered car. The men took their bank cards and got the pin numbers from them.
As Marita was forced into the boot, she looked the leader of the pack straight in the eyes for a moment. He placed his hands on her eyes and told her that they (the women) would not be hurt. The hi-jackers only wanted the car and the money. Then they forced her friend into the boot as well.
“They drove of. They drove and drove and drove. In that time we just prayed and prayed. There was a moment when the thought came to me that this would be my last night on earth. I remembered the story of Allison Botha that was abducted and raped in 1994. And I said to the Lord that if this was indeed my last night on this earth. then I am fine. At that moment death was nothing; it was only a single step that I would give into the eternal presence of God.”
In spite of this overwhelming peace and complete lack of fear of death, there was a desire to live within Marita. She realised that if they did not die, they could be raped or attacked and left maimed for life. “In that moment the Lord gave me a revelation. He showed me the cross and He told me that Jesus did die for me to go to heaven. Jesus did die for me to have eternal life. But He said to me He died for more than that. He said, ‘I will give you My healing so that you will be able to be restored and to live life to the full’.
“And I realised the power of the cross is not only in giving us eternal life. The power of the cross is also in emotional and physical healing. And I knew that God could turn around the darkest, absolute worst moment of your life. I told Him that no matter what these men did to me that night, I would still praise Him, and I would still declare that He is good and I would go out even harder to proclaim the Gospel and to bring people to Him.
“Then I saw a vision of myself with my husband and children. I didn’t have them yet, I was single. And hope rose up within me and I knew: we were going to live. We were going to get out of this.”
I told my friend we were going to live and get out of that situation. In that same moment she asked me, ‘Do you feel it?’ And I said yes. I feel it. Jesus was there. I felt Him. His presence was such a reality in that cramped boot. It was like with Daniel’s friends. There was another Man in the fire.”
In that moment things changed for Marita and her friend in the boot of that car. They started to declare the word of God and the promises He made. A war was being waged in the heavenly realms that could only be won by One.
Everything the two women declared in the name of Jesus, happened. They were not harmed. The one man that made sexual innuendo’s during their time in the hi-jacked car, was sent off to draw the money in the only time available to assault the women.
“I believe it was the taking of authority. The knowing who we are in God. We took authority, but it was also the grace of God that protected us.”
After being driven around in the cramped boot for about four hours, and spending time waiting and listening as the hi-jackers hid somewhere in a closed garage for one of their own to go and empty out the women’s accounts, the whole ordeal came to a sudden halt.
“Within 10 minutes of drawing the money and leaving the garage in which they hid, they stopped and let us out of the boot. We saw we were in a street and there were houses. We ran around the corner and I knew immediately where we were. We were very close to the University of Johannesburg were I did campus ministry. We entered the campus and asked the security to drop us off at the house of our senior pastor. It was between 03:00 and 4:00. The hi-jacking occurred at about 23:00. From our pastor’s house, we went to the police station and they opened a case file. Two hours later they found the car.”
But Marita’s physical safety was not God’s only concern. He turned her ordeal into a testimony. Her nightmare into a joyous dance of praise when exactly one year later, according to the promise of God, she got married to husband Ryan.
“Ryan and I fell in love around April, May, June that year. One day, as I was at home worshipping, the Lord told me that he would turn the day of my greatest disaster into the day of my greatest celebration. And then, in October, Ryan asked me to marry him. There were two available dates, he said. February 4 and February 18…”
And that was how Marita Caley’s day of mourning was turned into a day of dancing. All by the generous and gracious hand of the Almighty God.