“Please, Mister,” the holdupper half-pleaded and half-threatened as he cocked the pistol pointed at the head of the tall American missionary, “I will be forced to shoot if you resist!”
The frightening episode was taking place on a street in San Andres Bukid (Manila) in broad daylight and in full view of terrified bystanders as two men, one armed with a .22 caliber pistol and the other with a fan knife, were forcing two missionaries to part with their attache cases, wallets and watches.
Sensing the futility of the situation, Elder William D. Larkin yielded. Elder Danilo M. Mabunga of Cubao, Quezon City, at whose neck the fan knife was pointed, did the same. Elder Mabunga, a five-foot-three Filipino then only two months old in the service of the Lord as fulltime missionary, was facing his first test on his missionary zeal.
After reporting the matter to the police, the two missionaries went home with an exciting story to tell their zone and district leaders. A week later, the two elders had another story to tell.
On August 25, 1975, a big bully who operated a shoe repair shop, along busy Herran street in Paco, Manila, resenting Elder Mabunga’s protest over the obvious overcharging for the repair of Elder Larkin’s pair of shoes, held the Filipino missionary by the collar and started to manhandle him.
The ensuing commotion caught the attention of an off-duty cop who was by chance in the vicinity and who came to the aid of the missionaries. The incident ended with a brief interlude of friendship with the cop, to whom they related their experience a week before, who in turn promised to help in the apprehension of the holdup men.
They shook hands and parted ways—but the harrowing experience of two unnerving incidents in a week’s time apparently was disconcerting to the two missionaries. Both forgot to take note of the cop’s name and address! That evening, they prayed hard for an opportunity to cross paths with him again.
One evening during the same week, they were teaching the gospel to the big Molinos family residing at Fabie Estate, Paco, Manila when someone knocked on the door. The elders momentarily stopped as the head of the family excused himself to open the door.
The Lord, indeed, works in strange ways. Who should come knocking on the door but the cop whose name the two elders forgot to take note of, and who turned out to be a relative on an unscheduled visit to the Molinos family without any purpose in mind.
The reunion resulted in a new turn of events in the life of the cop. He joined the Molinos family in listening to the message of the elders, hardly realizing that Elder Larkin and Elder Mabunga were silently thanking the Lord for an opportunity that came at the least expected moment.—P. Ocampo Jr.
Notes: The cop, Patrolman Antonio Buenaflor Molinos of Precinct 5, was baptized September 27, 1975, almost a month ahead of the big Molinos family of 2174 Road 5, Fabie Estate, Paco, Manila.
One of the holduppers was apprehended and jailed.