To mark the 25th anniversary of Faith & Friends, we’ve been asking past editors, current writers and YOU, our readers, to tell us what articles have impacted them. If any article has spoken to you or changed how you thought of life and faith, we want to hear about it. Write, post a comment to, or email us.

This month, our article was suggested by longtime Faith & Friends freelance writer Jayne Thurber-Smith:

"I love everything Phil Callaway writes, ever since I read his first book Honey, I Dunked the Kids. I just checked Wikipedia to make sure I got the title right and realized that it's Phil's 30th anniversary of being an author, so congratulations, Phil! I have always enjoyed his contributions toFaith & Friends, but especially when he wrote about his experience with his wife, Ramona, in Hawaii during its false ballistic missile alarm in 2018: 'Two Missiles to Paradise.' Phil and Ramona spent the few minutes they thought they had left in this world in quiet, grateful reflection, and that really challenged me to live every moment as if it were my last with an attitude of gratitude. Because one day I'll be right."

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.”

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