By Cala Dickey
“The testing of your faith” (James 1:3) is a scriptural phrase that has become a reality to me now more than ever before. I think it can be easy to say that we will give a resounding YES to God no matter what He asks us to do or where He asks us to go. Like Isaiah in the Bible, we say, “Here am I. Send me!”
But we can begin to view the call of God through a fleshly lens and easily talk ourselves out of that call when we learn there may be danger or discomfort, or it doesn’t look like the life we imagined. My husband, Mike, and I decided long ago that we would go wherever God called us. We may wrestle with that calling a bit because we are humans, but we want to be people who always say yes to God. When God called my family to the murder capital of the United States, we knew it would not be easy. We didn’t know exactly what to expect, and Google does not do our city justice. However, we quickly realized that New Orleans, although masked in big city beauty, history, architecture, culture, food, festivals, and fame, is wrecked. The crime rate is out of control, the homelessness is heartbreaking, drug use begins in elementary school, voodoo practice and palm readers are found on nearly every corner, and spiritual darkness looms over the entire city. This city desperately needs Jesus!
Planting a church is a process. We came to New Orleans in November to take a small season of rest and to reset as a family before we hit the ground running. We wanted to learn about our city and become a part of our community before we started the church planting process. We live pretty quiet lives here. We are slowly getting to know all our neighbors. We have been building relationships, making friends, and enjoying the beauty of the city. Although we had heard of the violence, crime, and murder, it seemed so distant from our little family bubble. You never think those things will happen to you, until they do.
On Monday, February 20, 2023, at 4:35 p.m. I became a victim of aggravated assault and armed robbery. I happened to be leaving work in broad daylight on a beautiful day in a very nice neighborhood. People were walking their dogs, others were sitting and “people watching” on their front porches, and kids were playing outside when two men jumped out of the back of their car and ran towards me.
One planted himself in front of me; the other came up from behind. Eyeing their weapons, I remained as still as I could as they proceeded to hit, kick, and shove me. They finally took my purse and ran back to a getaway car and sped away.
Eight police officers arrived quickly at the scene and began taking reports and photographs. They viewed the camera feeds from all the neighborhood cameras. I was instructed not to touch anything as they needed to be able to test my clothing and assault locations for DNA. The police sergeant told me that had I resisted in any way, I would not be there giving my report.
I got to see the Scripture from my favorite passage come alive in one of the scariest moments of my life: You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you.”2 Chronicles 20:17, NKJV
At that moment I began to weep, because even though these guys hurt me, even though they could have used deadly weapons, I believe I used the most powerful weapon I could have used in this situation, peace. I believe the weapon we reach for in moments of danger and chaos speaks to the condition of our heart and the level of our faith. I am alive today because I chose peace. Had I reached for my mace or my taser, I would not be. Sometimes we underestimate the power of God by taking matters into our own hands. I got to see the Scripture from my favorite passage come alive in one of the scariest moments of my life: “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you” (2 Chronicles 20:17, NKJV).
Many have asked what this incident will mean for my family, the church plant, and what we do moving forward. That’s a great question.
Our answer is: we will stay here. And we will keep moving forward.
Am I traumatized? Yes. Am I shaken up? Yes. Was my body bruised for weeks? Yes. Do I want to run away from the people who hurt me? No. I forgive them.
My heart hurts for them because this is the only path they know. I pray that our paths cross again, hopefully in church this time and not on the street! Jesus said “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance” (Mark 2:17).
The guys who wounded me are the very people God called us here to love and be a light to! We will continue ahead with the mission and vision God has given us for this city. We will also continue to be wise and vigilant and watchful of our surroundings!
The other day someone asked me, “Had you known before you moved that this attack was going to happen, would you still have said yes?”
And my immediate answer was “yes.”
The call of God isn’t always going to be surrounded by a safety net, and it’s not going to be comfortable. I don’t read about comfortability in my Bible. But the center of God’s will is where I want to be. He doesn’t promise the absence of suffering, but He promises that His presence will go with us. Obedience is hard. It can hurt, it can be lonely, and it is costly. But stepping out in faith and being obedient will unlock a level of God’s blessings and faithfulness like you wouldn’t believe. God does not call us and then abandon us. God calls, and God comes through. God guides, and He provides. God is faithful, and I say yes! I challenge you with two things: which weapon do you reach for when chaos arises, and what is God asking you to say yes to?
About the Author
Cala Dickey is a PK (preacher’s kid) turned pastor/pastor’s wife, momma, worship leader, church planter, and pioneer. She loves Open Bible and counts it a joy that she and her husband, Mike, were able to bring Open Bible to North Carolina and now into Louisiana, where they plan to launch OHR City Church in 2024. OHR (pronounced “or”) is the Hebrew word for light and also means “bringing order into chaos.”