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CBN.com Phil Snyder’s mission of mercy almost ended in his death. The missionary to Haiti was taking a young boy named Shelton to get a visa. Shelton had punctured his eye on a nail, and Phil wanted to fly him back to the United States for surgery.
“One minute we’re driving down the road. Everything’s optimistic. Everything’s in color,” Phil tells The 700 Club. “The next minute I look back at the road, there’s a rock heading at my windshield, at which time I ducked, and gunfire broke out all around the car. All of a sudden that beautiful color day turned black and white. There’s no way to describe that feeling [of] realizing you’re in no man’s land, you’re coming under fire, and chances are pretty good you’re going to end up dead.”
Phil says that first rock thrown at his windshield was actually a blessing, because it made him duck and ducking kept him from taking a shotgun blast to the face.
“Most of the gunfire hit me through the shoulder, up into the neck, on my ear, side of my face and across the chest,” Phil says.
A Haitian gang took Phil and Shelton hostage. The kidnappers let Phil call his wife, Amber, on his cell phone. She was back in the United States.
“He said, ‘Well, they got me.’ I said, ‘Have you been kidnapped?’ It had just never dawned on me that my husband would be in that kind of danger,” Amber recalls.
Phil’s own mother, Betty, and father had been missionaries to Haiti since 1970.
Betty says, “They didn’t know that we had been feeding, teaching and loving thousands of children over there and had been for so many years.”
Phil’s mother was at her home in Haiti when she got a gruesome delivery.
Betty says, “He brought a shirt that was just real bloody on the front, like he had lost a lot of blood, and he said, ‘Your son has been shot in the head.’ I can’t tell you the feelings that I had. I just thought, if he was shot in the head, and there’s that much blood, then where is he now?”
Phil and Shelton were locked away in a city slum. Phil’s physical wounds were cared for, but he was still a captive. He had another problem. During this time of intense trial, Phil felt like God had left him….
“I felt so alone during this time,” Phil says. “I didn’t feel His presence. I didn’t feel any spark of the Spirit. I didn’t feel any strengthening, any angels beside me, all those things I had assumed I would feel. I could almost relate to Christ when He said, ‘Why have You forsaken me?’ I felt so alone. I’d think about my kids and my wife perhaps never seeing me again… and I’d cry. There’s no darkness worse than that place where all hope is shuttered out.”
Meanwhile, back in the United States, his wife and children were going through a completely different experience.
“We were buoyed up by a supernatural care of God that made it so that we didn’t worry,” Amber says. “We didn’t even cry. We didn’t shed tears over his fate, because God came in and just took care of us.”
Angel Snyder says, “I came home from school that day and everybody was here. I walked into the room and my mom told me.”
Noah shares, “At first it was really scary, but then we came home and something really weird happened. We weren’t scared at all. We knew he was going to be all right.”
“It was God definitely,” Angela concurs.
Phil decided he would trust God’s promises, even in prison.
Phil recalls, “While I didn’t feel God’s presence in that situation, I had His Word written on my heart. I knew His promises, and I stuck to them. He was faithful through it.”
“Immediately everyone we knew started to contact everyone they knew to pray for Phil’s safety,” Amber says. “There were people all over the world, all the way to Africa who prayed for my husband’s safety.”
That long prayer chain included a close family friend, Ruth Browne.
Ruth says, “That’s when I called The 700 Club for prayer, because I knew he needed to have all the prayer he could get from people who really knew how to pray.”
Phil continues, “It was touch and go the whole day and the whole night. With the sunrise the next morning and a new day dawning, I was hoping for the best, but it wasn’t looking good then either.”
Then a stranger came in.
“A new guy, a new face. He’s the first one who suggested, ‘Man, you shouldn’t be here. This shouldn’t have happened to you. I’m going to see what I can do to get you out of here.’ By noon or 12:30 I was a free man,” Phil says.
Phil spent the next few hours talking with his former captors.
“It was amazing. I was able to sit there and talk openly and freely. Folks came around and apologized. They apologized for shooting me. They apologized for taking me captive,” Phil says.
“We were rejoicing,” Ruth exclaims. “We were calling each other on the phone. I called The 700 Club and reported that the prayer has been answered, that Phillip has been released.”
Amber says, “It was just a confirmation of what God had already shown us.”
After his release, Phil stayed in Haiti for five more days, so he could get Shelton’s visa and take him back to the states. Today Shelton is living with a foster family that wants to adopt him. After everything they went though, Phil and his family continue their work in Haiti.
“I love the people,” Phil says. “I love the country, and I feel that I’m called there. I’m not going to just give up on that overnight. What was intended for a curse turned out to be a blessing. I’m sure the devil would have loved to have seen me dead on the road that day, but God turned it around for good. He always does.”
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