May 2003. A month after the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled by Iraqi’s in Firdos Square in downtown Baghdad, Dad and I found ourselves staying in the Palestine Hotel, overlooking that same square. The hotel, along with the Sheraton Hotel next door, abutted the Tigris River and the Green Zone just beyond. Needless to say, there was constant flurry of activity everywhere – tanks rumbled outside, Blackhawk helicopters came and went from the Green Zone, and tracer fire lit up the night across the street north of us.
Staying in the hotel with us were CNN correspondents and Blackwater contractors. Dignitaries met for coffee and mezza plates in the lounge area next to us. As we wrapped up our lunch of baba ghanoush, hummus, biryani rice, and Lamb, we headed out the front door into an open oven – late Spring in Baghdad.
We walked out to our Vanagon in the parking lot, east of the hotel, a gunshot rang out. Not unusual, but still noteworthy. We kept walking and we heard another gunshot as we felt the air above us disturbed. Cleary, there was a sniper across the street from us sighting in his rifle on us. Our Iraqi friend yelled, “Get to the car!”
As our vehicle began pulling away, a third shot flew just over our heads and hit the parking lot entryway, perhaps 15ft beyond us. “That was a first. Now I can say that I’ve been shot at” Dad said. He then quoted Ephesians 6:12. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” When we face attacks in our lives, it is always important to remember who and what is behind it. As a child of God, we know who we serve and who has ultimate authority, even over gun-wielding madmen.