Faith in Crisis: How God Shows Up When You Need Him Most

Faith in Crisis: How God Shows Up When You Need Him Most

by Jim and Shirley Carroll


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781633570894
Publisher: Crosslink Publishing
Publication date: 04/19/2017
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,094,435
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

The only child of older parents, Jim spent his childhood in the small town of Eminence, Kentucky. “I could ride my bike everywhere, go fishing anywhere. It was ‘A River Runs Through It’ childhood.” Following the family move to Louisville for better schooling, Jim began college after his high school junior year, finished college in two years, and started medical school at twenty. After a stint in the Navy, a career in medical research carried him from the University of Colorado to Washington University in St. Louis and finally to the Medical College of Georgia, where he was Chief of Child Neurology. In the 1980’s, Jim sensed a call to Christian foreign missions. The family charged off to Kuwait where this story of crisis ensued. Jim is “retired” but continues with patient care and stem cell research. He hopes to make things better for brain-injured babies through application of new treatments with stem cells. When he has time, Jim roams the North Georgia mountains in spring and summer in search of the rainbow trout and the pine forests of South Georgia in the fall and winter in pursuit of his target, the white tail deer. And in both, there is fellowship with his sons and family. He is an elder in First Presbyterian Church (PCA), Augusta, Georgia.

Shirley was born in Louisville, Kentucky. Her grandmother, who exemplified true Christian living, brought her up. After completing college and her Masters’ degree in sociology, she began a career in social work. She had no intention of marriage, but Jim swept her off her feet. They decided to get married after five weeks. Shirley served as a community organizer for four local churches and a community house working to minister to the needs of an inner city changing neighborhood. After dodging bullets in the downtown Louisville church during the riots of 1968, Shirley and Jim departed for Washington, DC, and Jim’s two years in the navy. It was time for a family. After eight children and fourteen grandchildren, there is no retirement for Shirley. Her joy is devoting time to Jim, her children, and grandchildren. She also loves spending time with other women and seeking mutual growth in the Lord.

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Faith in Crisis â" How God Shows Up When You Need Him Most

By Jim Carroll, Shirley Carroll

CrossLink Publishing

Copyright © 2016 Jim and Shirley Carroll
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63357-089-4


The Invasion

August 1 – Shirley

Our five-bedroom Hilton Head Island style house with its cedar siding and surrounding porches had provided a brief refuge from the desert, but we were looking forward to departing Augusta, Georgia, and our return to Kuwait. The greenery and huge trees in the neighborhood was still startling to me after living in the dry, yellow-brown colors of the desert. Nevertheless, I had begun to miss even the sandy dust that invaded our Kuwait home on a daily basis. But the news of the day was a concern.

Jim had already returned to Kuwait after spending his early summer break in the States. Kuwait University, where Jimmy was employed, had given us tickets to fly to the US during the summer months. This was a part of Jim's employment agreement.

We were thankful for the respite from the summer weather in Kuwait, where daytime temperature reaches 120–130 degrees. Anyone who can be out of Kuwait during its summer definitely wants to be anywhere else. We were packed and had our return tickets ready to go back to Kuwait in two weeks. We had stayed in Augusta to complete one of Matthew's many plastic surgeries on his birthmarks. That stage of the surgery was over, and we were ready to head back to Kuwait. Everything was prepared, and the six of our seven children, ranging from two to fourteen, who were to return with me, were excited about seeing their dad after nearly two months.

I had a friend over for dinner, iced sweet tea, vegetable soup and salad, and afterwards we prayed together. "Lord, please provide a husband for Elaine. We trust in your wisdom and know you'll do what's best. She wants your best and desires a husband and we ask you to answer her request. We love you and know you're a God we can trust." Almost forty, Elaine wanted a husband while she could still have children.

Elaine prayed for our family. "I pray Shirley and the children will have safe travel back to Kuwait. I pray for their mission work with the Kuwaitis, and most for the Bedouins, that they would come to know you. I ask that their house will get rented before she leaves." Although I had already rented the house for the year, the party had just backed out of the deal. It was a mess. How was I going to have time to rent the house before we left for Kuwait? Elaine continued. "I ask that Shirley and the children will rely only on you in their mission to Kuwait. Lord, please bless them in their work with the people there. We trust in you."

As we were praying the phone rang. Jimmy was making his regular check-in call from Kuwait, but I jumped into the conversation first. "The news here says Iraq is on the border of Kuwait about to invade the country. The news is really alarming to me, Jimmy. It sounds like the Iraqis really mean it." The matter had been boiling for weeks, but we had hoped for the best. The trouble, we thought, was old news, another squabble between Arab brothers, nothing more than the standard fare for that part of the world.

Kuwait was seven hours ahead, and Jimmy was there at our home late in the evening getting ready to watch the local news on TV. I continued on my concern. "CNN here in the US says the Iraqis are about to invade Kuwait. What's happening there? What do you think? Maybe you should get a plane back to the States. It really looks serious. I don't want you there in Kuwait by yourself."

"Absolutely not. I'm not panicking over this and jumping on a plane. Nothing's going on here in Kuwait. The country's quiet and there's no bad news here. Nobody is even mentioning the Iraqis. I can't leave anyway. I just turned in my passport to get our residency permits renewed." He was stuck, and he gave one more disturbing report. "For some reason, my paycheck is delayed this month. Don't worry about it. It'll come soon."

I knew he wouldn't budge. He had that tone. The rest of the conversation was more pleasant, and we were anxious to see each other in a few days. By the way, the check never came.

* * *

August 1–2 – Jim

I had been out on the street downtown shopping for a new TV. I had never seen the city so quiet.

Kuwait City, near the center of Kuwait on the coast, is the only population center of the little country tucked in the northwestern corner of the Persian Gulf between Iran and Iraq to the north and Saudi Arabia to the south. The maximum dimensions of Kuwait are 125 miles north to south and 100 miles east to west.

In 1990 more than half the population of two million was comprised of expatriates who were in the country as workers. Some were Westerners like us, but the greater number were laborers from the developing world. From the look of the streets on that hot August day, most were either out of the country during the summer heat or remaining in their homes.

After I drove back to our home in the Jabriya section of the city, and following Shirley's call, I switched on the news. The August 1, 1990 report on the evening TV was even blander than it had been on preceding days, and I should have been suspicious. The Ministry of Information Station, KTV-2, was known for its commitment to boring news, often featuring videos of the emir greeting his guests of the day, and that evening the station was at its tedious best. The young Kuwaiti woman with no hair covering and the British accent said, "Kuwaiti and Iraqi ministers continue to discuss grievances in the quiet setting of Jeddah. Hosni Mubarak, mediating the conference on behalf of the Arab League, remains confident in a peaceful resolution." There was no mention of troop deployments or any intention of hostilities. Kuwait was safe.

But what the Kuwait TV gal didn't say was that the problem was a big deal. It was a giant cat against a little mouse. Iraq had brought financial and social disaster on itself during its eight-year war with Iran, a war neither side could win. Iran had sent waves of soldiers, some children, to be massacred by Iraqi artillery. One of my friends in the Kuwaiti military told me about the battle of Al-Faw. "The sharks below Bubiyan Island at the outflow of the Shatt Al-Arab had a picnic on the blood and body parts floating out from the fight." Both sides were scarred by the war and Saddam wanted to recoup his financial loses. The soldiers he lost — never mind.

Tiny, rich Kuwait with one of the world's highest per capita incomes had supported their northern Arab neighbor, loaning the Iraqis nearly twenty billion dollars to support the war effort. The Iraqis didn't want to pay it back, maybe they couldn't, and they wanted the northern Kuwaiti oil fields, perhaps as far south as Mutla Ridge, the highest point in Kuwait. Mutla was the rocky escarpment north of the city running parallel to the Subiya Motorway. Kuwait was the obvious solution to Saddam's money problem.

The Iraqis had accused the Kuwaitis of "slant drilling," meaning the Kuwait drillers aimed their oilrig drills under the border and into Iraqi oilfields in order to steal Iraq's main source of revenue. The allegation had no foundation. But Iraq said it was all their land anyway based on old maps, which existed prior to the British redrawing the map of the Middle East. All these claims had been in the news for months, and there was nothing new in the demands. We knew the Iraqis just wanted more oil to fatten up their depleted coffers. Kuwait had been an independent state for years, and there was no basis for any of the Iraqi demands.

But the two sides were talking and making progress, at least that's what the news lady said. In fact by the time of the news broadcast, we later learned the peace conference had pretty much dissolved.

A week earlier, the emir had offered his own poetic description of the negotiations, a "Summer Cloud." A summer cloud in Kuwait has no antecedent and no consequence. There is no rain before it and none after. Thus, the remark was designed to reassure the populace, at least the small number who remained in Kuwait during the summer heat. The emir had said all was well in Kuwait. I had no reason, other than Shirley's concerning comments that evening, to worry about Saddam.

And I had even convinced Shirley of the peace of Kuwait. "Well, okay, Jimmy, I guess we'll see you soon at the airport in Kuwait."

At 2:00 AM the first explosions began, and I woke up. Because of Shirley's warning I hadn't slept well anyway, and as soon as the jets roared over the city, I knew. Commercial jets never sounded like that, and they never flew so low over the city. All the explosions were in the distance at first, but they were repeated with only brief interruptions. The booms moved closer to our home.

I looked outside in the street and at the nearby houses, and there was no movement. A few lights were on in the homes of my neighbors across the street. Usually they would be dark at this hour. Small arms fire erupted in a nearby neighborhood, and there was no more sleep. From hearing TV shows with simulated automatic weapons fire, I recognized the distinctive pop-pop sounds of an automatic assault rifle. We later confirmed from arms experts that these were AK-47s, perhaps from the Russians or from US commercial arms dealers. We never learned who was shooting.

At 6:00 AM, Alina, my Sudanese lab assistant, phoned. She was abrupt: "Doctor, don't go outside." It was just getting light, and sporadic artillery fire continued in the distance.

For some strange reason, I couldn't resist a silly response. "Why not?"

"Doctor, there is war!" I took comfort in the fact she cared enough to call me. I didn't even know she had my phone number. But in Kuwait such information, almost any personal data, makes its passage among those who wanted to know.

I mumbled crazy stuff, nothing of any consequence, a disorganized response. What was the appropriate response to there is war? I was scared but tried not show it. She had given her advice, I had none for her, and we closed. "Take care, Alina." I never saw her again, and I hope she made it out of Kuwait safely. Sudan supported Iraq, so I suppose she was okay. The invaders favored those Kuwait residents whose countries came out in support of Iraq.

For the moment our large villa in the Jabriya section of the city was my fortress. The university had provided a three-story "green villa" for Shirley and me and our seven children. It was referred to as one of the "green villas" because of the color of the outside tile siding, identical to the other university-sponsored houses on the block. We were the only Americans living in the area. I heard no more firing near our home, just booms in the distance. As near as I could tell, the Iraqis weren't blowing up large areas. The jets had stopped flying over our zone. I had no way of determining the extent of the fighting and even whether or not there was a full-scale invasion. Maybe the Iraqis were just probing Kuwait and trying to frighten the government into paying ransom for protection. Although Kuwait had every right to its own sovereignty, they couldn't fend off the Iraqi behemoth.

At seven in the morning, my friend Haddad, a medical school faculty colleague who lived in the villa near our home, knocked on my door. His food-spotted white shirt was open at the collar, as usual, his gray chest hair overflowing the top button. Haddad was a portly, always informally-dressed man, longtime Kuwait resident but a Jordanian married to a Kuwaiti. "Jim, we need to talk. I think Iraq has invaded." He smelled of alcohol, a bit early in the day, but I couldn't blame him.

I recalled our first meeting when I had come over to visit Kuwait. He had taken me out for dinner and brought a brown bag containing whiskey. Alcohol was illegal in Kuwait and he thought that I, as an American, needed alcohol with dinner. On that occasion I had disappointed him. But now with a possible invading army, I cast no fault.

We tried the TV, but there was nothing but fuzz and static. We had no source of information other than what we saw and heard, which was minimal. My own picture of what an invasion should look like had not been fulfilled. I had not seen a soldier or a tank, no devastation of buildings, no plumes of smoke, only the gunfire and sounds of artillery far off in the distance.

Had the Iraqis really invaded? Our defensive hope continued to be that the Iraqis were just trying to scare the Kuwaitis into giving up some oil or money. Nothing decisive had happened as far as we could determine.

From my house, Haddad phoned his contacts around town, and most knew less than we did. Some didn't answer, which was worrisome at the early hour. No, there weren't any definite reports, just spotty accounts of what others had told them. Yes, some Iraqi troops had come across the border, but where were they? Was it just a token force or a real invasion? Our snapshots of the invasion provided only circumstantial information.

Haddad asked me over to his home. I definitely wanted company, so I followed. While his wife fixed eggs and coffee, the phone rang and Haddad answered. "Yes, I see. I understand. It must be true." He looked at me nodding and gesturing with an upward motion of his left hand. He was dramatic in his seriousness, but then Haddad was always theatrical so I didn't rely on his gestures. He hung up the phone. "Jim, three wounded soldiers were brought into the Casualty Department." Truth or rumors multiplied fast between Haddad and me, and I learned how war stories were born. Perhaps there had been a full-scale invasion.

But if so, why weren't we seeing more evidence of the offensive? Haddad's last experience in an invasion was the Israeli takeover of Palestine in 1948, where the Israelis had been more efficient than the Iraqis. "This is nothing like what Israel did to us." I'd heard the account many times from Haddad, and he still resented the Jews taking his beloved homeland from him and his family. He went back to the story when he was anxious or angry at uncertainty. And we were in that mode, both of us hypervigilant, waiting for more data.

Then a series of detonations began to occur several hundred feet in the air above our neighborhood. We ducked our heads with each explosion. The blasts had no obvious military purpose other than perhaps to frighten civilians. The plan worked with me. A few pieces of debris from the discharges struck our villas, but there was no damage. I could hear the debris cluttering down on the roof.

If it was war, then there would be more than three soldiers wounded at Mubarak. I was concerned about our responsibility. "Should we go over to Mubarak?" Mubarak Al-Kabeer (Mubarak the Great) Hospital near our home in the Jabriya area of Kuwait City was one of several state-supported facilities in Kuwait. The hospital had been named after Mubarak Al-Sabah, who came to power at the end of the nineteenth century after murdering his two half-brothers. After negotiating a beneficial treaty with the British, he was honored and regarded as the founder of modern Kuwait.

I answered my own query. "I suppose we have to go." If not, we would have just stayed in our homes wondering about our duty. "Let's get it over with." There was no shooting except for an occasional explosion in the distance, so Haddad and I decided to venture out. As pediatricians we were still doctors, and we felt a reluctant sense of duty. We headed back behind Haddad's house to Mubarak.

The red facade hospital with white trim was only a block from our homes, so we traipsed across the vacant parking lot and up the two flights of stairs to the pediatric floor. The elevator wasn't functional, which was not unusual. Haddad was panting as we reached the floor. Most of the doctors hadn't made it in, a bad sign, and none of the female doctors had arrived. The cleaning staff, which usually worked early in the day, was nowhere to be seen.

There was no action on the pediatric floor. Usually it was full of commotion at that hour. We then went back to the first floor and the casualty department, where there was total confusion with wounded Kuwaiti soldiers. The few doctors and nurses present were going from room to room. We walked around the area, and the surgeons and a few nurses were attending to the needs. Haddad and I were pretty helpless in that venue. We looked at each other but didn't speak about our lack of utility.

About 11:00 AM ten Iraqi helicopters circled the hospital but didn't land. From the third floor of the hospital, the children's floor, I watched soldiers firing at each other around the corner of the medical school across the street. Their uniforms were similar, and I couldn't tell Kuwaitis from Iraqis. No soldiers fell. How could they fire so many bullets and not hit anything?

I had no understanding of how a country was invaded and taken over. Either they're here or they're not. Right? As far as I could determine from our vantage point, there was limited conflict. We soon learned invasions don't happen with everything taken over at once. Invasions are piecemeal, incremental, parts of the city and country taken over bit by bit, groups of soldiers sent here and some sent there. Any consolidation of control took time. What we saw that morning were early fragments of the invasion. It was confusion rather than stabilization or pacification. Would the invading Iraqi soldiers know who to shoot and who to let pass? Would they have sufficient discipline to refrain from shooting civilians?


Excerpted from Faith in Crisis â" How God Shows Up When You Need Him Most by Jim Carroll, Shirley Carroll. Copyright © 2016 Jim and Shirley Carroll. Excerpted by permission of CrossLink Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Acknowledgements xiii

Introduction xv

Prologue xvii

Chapter 1 The Invasion 1

Shirley 1

Jim 3

Chapter 2 Shirley Waiting for Word 21

Chapter 3 Jim on the Run 35

Chapter 4 The Embassy August 18-24 51

Jim 51

Shirley 67

Chapter 5 Iraq Closes the Embassies 69

Chapter 6 Others Got Out, I Didn't 85

Chapter 7 One Month Anniversary and the Arab Roof 91

Chapter 8 Things Fall Apart 97

Chapter 9 Depression Sets In 105

Chapter 10 Pain, Self-inflicted 113

Chapter 11 Fleas and Sand in the Tuna, Artillery at Night 119

Chapter 12 Happy Hour 127

Chapter 13 Bombing Is the Best News 133

Chapter 14 Shirley's Bubble 137

Chapter 15 More Evacuations, I'm Still Stuck 143

Chapter 16 The Well 147

Chapter 17 The Pullback That Never Happened 151

Chapter 18 Halloween, Pigeon Meat, God Only Wise, and Kurt Vonnegut 157

Chapter 19 War Preparations 167

Chapter 20 Binary Weapons, Rania 173

Chapter 21 Thanksgiving 181

Chapter 22 Shirley to the Rescue 189

Chapter 23 Release and Reception 193

Jim 193

Shirley 198

Epilogue 201

The Authors 203

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