Two American citizens that were caught in the gunfire that echoed throughout the walls of the Westgate Mall in Kenya last month are crediting God for sparing their life their day.
Andrew, 26, of Denver, Colorado, and Katherine, 38, who last lived in Charlotte, North Carolina before moving to the country, believe that it is a miracle that they are alive today.
Andrew was visiting the country on a business trip and arrived at the mall that day with a guide to conduct a bit of research at a popular grocery store. When the two went to take a break for lunch, their driver pulled up to the front entrance to meet them.
However, just as Andrew climbed into the van, he heard gunshots ring out and felt pain in his back. He and the driver hit the floor, and his guide thrust himself on top of Andrew to cover him.
“I could tell I’d been hit but not how bad,” he told WORLD News. “It was very much the providence of God that they didn’t shoot into the windows as they walked past.”
But Andrew remained on the floor for hours bleeding. He could hear gunshots approximately every ten minutes and the sound of people screaming in terror. Andrew said that he and the others in the van didn’t dare to move as they didn’t know if they terrorists were still near their vehicle or if they could see them through the large glass windows of the mall. So, they played dead.
“I prayed the Lord’s Prayer a lot,” Andrew said. “I wasn’t feeling super creative at that point. I defaulted to that.”
He also thought of the words of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they were about to be thrown into the fiery furnace.
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king,” the men declared. “But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”
“God can save me,” Andrew likewise thought to himself. “But if not, He’s still God and I will follow him.”
After several hours passed, a representative from the Red Cross approached the van and asked if anyone was hurt. The three men were then instructed to crawl on their bellies to safety, passing by the dead bodies around them.
Similarly, during this time, Katherine was visiting the Westgate Mall with her five children for what she thought would be a fun, kid-friendly outing at the toy store.
However, just as she was about to meet up with her two sons at the grocery store, the unthinkable happened.
“As I came down the stairs to come to just outside the store where they were, the explosions started and the gunfire,” Katherine recalled.
A Kenyan woman who had been wounded grabbed one of Katherine’s little girls and told Katherine to hide behind a table with the others. While the women and girls hid on the floor for hours, Katherine’s sons were able to escape through the back door of the store.
Katherine says that she believes one of the attackers looked right at her, but that it was the hand of God that saved her.
“I say God hid us in plain sight,” she recalled, “as when I looked at the terrorists, it was almost like they were looking directly in our direction.”
Katherine and the Kenyan woman, as well as two Indian women, shielded the children and prayed over them as they waited. Approximately four hours later, armed men came to their rescue, throwing tear gas and instructing the women and children to run to them across the hall for safety. All made it out alive and unharmed.
Katherine told the Associated Press that she believes that God was looking out for her that day.
“I know that He did, because how could we have been so in plain view and not to have been seen?” she asked. “One of the more intense thoughts was this voice inside my head: ‘They’re not here to hurt you.'”
Katherine’s husband, who was on the job that day, agrees.
“It defies logic that they survived,” he told reporters, “but we’re a family of deep faith and take a lot of comfort from knowing that God protected them.”