Bat bite on Nargana island

Panamá, Nargana island
14 Oct. 1998 around 2:00am

I taught for two long days at the Kuna Bible extension on the island of Narganá (San Blas Archipelago, NE Panamá). Late that night I had a hard time getting to sleep. That was odd since I hadn't been sleeping well with a newborn at home. Even after the island's electricity was turned off at midnight, I tossed and turned about half an hour more before finally falling asleep.

A little more than an hour later I woke up because I felt something wet on the bed. My foot was in one wet spot and I could feel other wet spots down around my legs. Half asleep, I thought it must have been a rain leak. But it hadn't rained at all.

My next thought was that a bird or animal crawled across the rafters and "pooped" on me. That's when I sat up in bed and said, "Gross!" So I tried to slide the bed so that the next drips wouldn't hit me again. As I lay back, I said, "Thank You, Lord, it didn't drop on my face."

Then as my head was about to hit the pillow my foot hit the wet spot again and it felt slimy and sticky. I thought about cleaning it up, but I was too tired. I just wanted to sleep. In a few more hours I would be flying back home to Panamá City. At that moment the thought popped into my mind--what about a vampire bat?

I remembered reading a story as a boy about some young adventurers in the Amazon. One of the boys left his foot uncovered and a vampire bat slit back a small layer of skin, injected his anti-coagulant saliva and licked up the blood. If the boy's father hadn't woken up, he might have bled to death, because he couldn't feel a thing. In an instant, this scene played back in my mind and I was awake.

It was pitch black at about two in the morning. So I felt for my thongs with my feet and my right foot squished into the thong and felt very sticky. I had to stumble across the room to the rustic table and feel for the kerosene lamp and then go back and look for matches in my bag. After several attempts with the matches, I got the lamp lit. I moved it so I could look at my foot. I was shocked to see it was completely covered in blood.

There were small puddles of blood beside the table from the few minutes it took to light the lamp. Plus I had stains of blood all over both of my legs. The wet spots that woke me up were my own blood. By now I was very awake.

I felt no pain so I couldn't tell exactly where the wound was at first. I knew I had to stop the bleeding or I was in trouble. I thanked the Lord for First Aid classes I'd taken years ago. I applied direct pressure and wrapped a handkerchief around my toes.

Then I paused and thanked the Lord for waking me up with that thought about the vampire bats. I realized what was going on was a spiritual battle. So I rebuked every demon in English and Spanish and tongues. Standing there with my foot covered in my own blood, I thanked Jesus that His blood covered me.

While cleaning up as best I could, the blood kept flowing and I started to worry. So I prayed. I thanked the Lord for whoever was praying for me at that moment.

I wrapped a clean handkerchief around the bitten toe. I tied it almost tourniquet-style. I went back to the room to stay awake waiting for the dawn, just in case my First Aid wasn't good enough. I set my alarm to go off every 20 minutes so that I wouldn't fall asleep. I spent the rest of the morning reading the Word, praying, preparing a newsletter, and dictating this experience.

Around 6:30am later that morning, I showed it all to Benigno Gonzalez, our AG pastor on Narganá, and two brothers from his church. They said bats could be around there, but they'd never seen anything like this.

On the plane home I thought to myself, "This will make a great missionary story." Then it hit me--I could get rabies! There is no way to know if whatever bit me had it or not. I got home around 9:30am and told Yvonne everything. Then we got busy to find rabies treatment, which I am now receiving, plus tetanus, plus antibiotics.

The next day, I spoke with our National Secretary and National Bible School director, Julio Valdés. He is to go to Narganá next month. He told me about his last experience in Narganá. He stayed at the same hotel and one night he saw a demon in visible form try to attack him. He rebuked it and it disappeared.

That was confirmation to me that this is really a spiritual attack. Before leaving, I told Benigno that God must have great things in store for the Kuna work or Satan wouldn't be opposing it.

Another form of spiritual attack is coming from the saylas (like tribal council chiefs), who are the political, social and religious leaders of the very close-knit Kuna community. On 11-13 November 1998 there will be a congress of the 60 saylas and the 30 evangelical pastors. The purpose of the meeting is for the saylas to decide whether they will let the evangelical churches open any new ones. They are accusing them of turning the people away from the traditions of their ancestors. It is partly true, because they teach people not to get drunk in the ceremonial ritual or any other time, and to not worship the earth as Mother, but rather God as Creator.

Let's pray for a demonstration of God's power to defeat the enemy's attempt to stop Jesus' church from expanding. The very purpose of this Kuna Bible extension is to prepare leaders to open new churches!

While dictating this, I wanted to say: Thank you, prayer warriors, who lift up your missionaries without necessarily knowing why. God bless you.

P.S. After reporting this to family, friends and supporters, I received two emails in particular of good friends who told me that God had woken them up and told them to pray for me at that particular moment. Thanks specifically to the people who were obedient to the Lord and prayed for us. God knows where we are and what we need even when our own spouse or family may not. Praise be to God for His protection!