On August 21, 2015, Americans and lifelong friends Anthony Sadler, Spencer Stone and Alek Skarlatos boarded a train bound from Amsterdam to Paris together. Near them was British passenger Chris Norman. Suddenly, a shirtless man emerged from the train car’s bathroom carrying a loaded rifle. The four young men could see what was happening. They sprang into action and wrestled the gunman, Ayoub el-Khazzani, to the floor. The gunman carried with him an AKM assault rifle with 270 rounds of ammunition, a Luger M80 automatic pistol with a full cartridge, a box-cutter and a water-bottle-sized container full of gasoline, according to French Prosecutor Francois Molins. El Khazzani “wouldn’t have hesitated to use all the arms in his possession—assault rifle, pistol and box-cutter—if it wasn’t for the remarkable intervention of the passengers,” Molins later said. The three Americans and the Brit were given medals of valor and other types of recognition from France, Britain and the United States for heroism in the face of certain disaster.
We have all scratched our heads as to why terrorists want to kill innocent people. But why did these four young men leap into action without a moment’s hesitation, risking their own lives to save those innocent people from the gunman? Skarlatas and Stone were members of the US National Guard and US Air Force respectively, with military training in battle and survival skills. But Sadler and Norman were ordinary citizens. Would you and I have done what they did?
I love to read stories of everyday heroes. Not only do these accounts bolster my faith in humanity, but they also help me realize that God can—and is—working through average people every day to protect those in harm’s way. As news broadcasts are quick to tell us, not all violence is foiled. But when attacks of this nature are quelled, we all have a sense that good has prevailed.
Jesus considered asking the Father to save Him from the suffering ahead, but He knew it was all part of God’s plan (John 12:27). For the Christian, our Lord’s death and resurrection were the ultimate “rescue mission.” God has already vanquished the enemy.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil, Lord. Amen