| The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda

The Voice of The Salvation Army in Canada and Bermuda

View RSS Feed


  • Jun6Wed

    Two Missiles to Paradise

    What would you do if you had seven minutes to live? June 6, 2018 by Phil Callaway
    Filed Under:
    Faith & Friends
    This past January, my wife, Ramona, and I were in Hawaii, where I was on a speaking tour.

    That Sunday, Ramona and I were enjoying an early breakfast when suddenly at 8:07 a.m., the world went crazier than a cageful of monkeys. Here’s what happened … 

    Watching the World End
    A zillion cellphones buzz and a message flashes onscreen: “Ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii. Seek immediate shelter. This is not a drill.”

    Pandemonium breaks loose. People panic. Some scream. Others flee through the streets. Tearful goodbyes are said. Underground parking lots fill.

    “It’s North Korea,” says someone. “It takes a ballistic missile 20 minutes to get here.” Thirteen minutes have come and gone.

    With seven minutes left to live, Ramona and I descend nine flights of stairs. A lady is carrying a Bible. “That’s a good book,” I say.

    “The best,” she smiles. “Especially this morning.” Call us delusional, but we stop and talk about heaven, about the good news of Christ’s love.

    “We’re in God’s hands,” we agree.

    With six minutes left of our lives, Ramona and I turn west onto Lewers Street, and toward the Pacific.

    A hundred thoughts flood your mind when you have five minutes to live. The kids. Is there anything unsaid? No. They know we love them.

    “I wonder if we’ll see the missile?” I say. “Let’s watch.”

    Not Today
    Three minutes to go and a man stops us. He’s furious at the world’s leaders.

    “We can’t put our hope there,” I stop him to say. “Our hope is in Jesus.” I’m more fearless than normal. After all, what’s he gonna do? Kill me?

    With two minutes left, it’s important to know that your worldview works. I’m happy to report that Christianity does.

    For many, fear reigns. For me, I’m a little jittery, but filled with peace.

    I hold my wife’s hand and quote Psalm 46: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea.”

    One minute to live and we are laughing. There are the mountains. And there’s the sea.

    My watch says time’s up. I pause. “We’re still here,” I say.

    “Shoot,” says Ramona. We laugh again. Most of her family are in heaven, and there are days she’d love to see them, but today isn’t that day.

    A Real Blast
    It takes a whopping 38 minutes for authorities to issue a retraction. Someone hit the wrong button. Oops. How prominent is this button? Did they hire someone whose eyesight wasn’t up to par? Maybe he pushed the button thinking it said, “Go for lunch,” when it said, “Go for launch.”

    It’s too early to go for launch, so we continue our walk along Waikiki Beach. It’s the emptiest I’ve seen it, but people are beginning to return. I want to yell, “Don’t go back to the way you were. This is not the land of the living. It’s the land of the dying. Are you ready? You have one life to live. One story to tell. Write it well.”

    Perhaps each day should start with a missile scare. We’d be a little more aware that we’re not here long, a little more prepared to share the hope of Christ.

    At 10 a.m., a friend emails to ask me if we are OK.

    “Yeah,” I reply. “But it’s been a blast.”

    Feature illustration: Dennis Jones


    On Sunday, July 8, 2018, Daniel Love said:

    Hi Phil,I did not know that at that time you were in Hawaii on that day. The world sure remembers that day. Thank you for sharing about your experience and reminding us that we need to treasure the priorities of life.


    On Sunday, June 10, 2018, Grant Effer said:

    Great story, love the humorous writing style - best moment of my day so far. Life is indeed shorter than we expect.


    Leave a Comment