Courage,  Faith,  Humility

Two Cops & a Black Eye: Our Up Close & Personal Encounter with Physical Abuse

Living in Mexico brought a ton of unusual, funny, memorable experiences. Even the hard times sound like a picnic compared to the night the cops dropped off an unexpected guest.

Our large property consisted of five double-wide mobile homes, a fire pit, trash and tool hut, huge water tank, fig and pomegranate trees, laundry lines, small patch of grass, and enough parking for about 25 cars. Some locals knew exactly why we were there, and others had no clue.

Like all the other nights, I stood in our double-wide, all jammied up and cozy, brushing my teeth in peace. Between spits I saw lights flashing through our small bathroom window, but knew they weren’t from a car. 

Toothbrush in mouth, I looked out and then called to my husband. “Doug? There are copsh at the fench and they’re fashing their surch lights in here.”

Out of bed, through the door, down the stairs, and across the property, my husband greeted them with equal measures of confusion and courtesy. 

About three minutes later he returned. “They thought we were some kind of church and hoped we’d be willing to take in a woman for the night.”

“Of course,” I said. “But why?”

“Her husband got drunk and beat her and she doesn’t feel safe staying at home.”

As usual, God’s perfect timing prevailed. All of our ministry students and staff were gone on Christmas break, so four of the trailers sat empty. 

Questions swirled while I donned a jacket and shoes. What type of guy would do this sort of thing? Where is her family? Why wouldn’t she stay with a friend?

While the police drove their truck around to the front gate, Doug unlocked it and pushed it open, just wide enough for the uneasy exchange. Out slid a middle-aged woman from their backseat, disheveled and clearly nervous. With tear-stained, flushed cheeks and a black eye, she barely looked at us as we introduced ourselves in Spanish. 

I couldn’t fathom the depths of her embarrassment. Mix pure humiliation brought on by her husband with having to ask a favor of the white missionaries… I’m sure we weren’t her first choice.

I quietly led her to the guys’ trailer on stilts. By middle-class American standards it was janky, but down there it ranked in the “pretty nice” category. Laminate wood floors and a fresh coat of orange paint helped. Sorta.

Ventana Ministries, 2009

Thanks to room checks and a strict room-checker (hola), our male students and staff made sure everything was clean before they went home. I chose the first bedroom on the left for her, mainly because it had an attached bathroom; it was the nicest we had to offer. I felt good about the casa and terrible about leaving her there.

“Tienes hambre?” (Are you hungry?)

“No, gracias.”

“Quieres agua?” (Do you want some water?)

“No, gracias.”

I told her I was going to get bedding, but also got food and water. How could I not? Moms/women/humans with a predisposition to nesting and caretaking can’t help it. 

Apple, banana, orange… granola bar? What do you offer a woman who’s just been decked in the face? I gathered snacks, a sleeping bag, blanket, pillowcase and water.

When I asked if she needed a ride somewhere in the morning, her extreme timidity barely allowed her to say more than a couple words.

“Si, por favor.”

“Ok… donde?”

“A mi casa.”

Baffled, I agreed. When I turned to leave, I told her to lock the door behind me and to come get us if she needed anything. She offered a weak smile and we slowly ran out of words.

So I left.

Now What?

I walked back across the property in a daze. She wants me to take her back to her house? Back to her hungover husband? Back to abuse? Back to that psycho cycle?

She brought nothing with her and slept in her clothes. I probably should have offered a toothbrush. Maybe I should have asked if she wanted to sleep in our home too. She would’ve said no, but I could’ve offered anyway. I had no idea if her loser husband might come looking for her. Did we put our family in danger? Did he own a gun? Pretty much everybody owned a gun. An angry drunk with a gun is a sketchy combo.

The next morning I went back to the orange trailer, we loaded into our old car, and I drove her toward the small mountain on the edge of town. The five-minute drive seemed like thirty. Making awkward small talk in English is hard enough. Attempting it in Spanish on the heels of a horrible situation felt… horrible.

I have zero recollection of what I asked her about. How long she had lived there? If she had family in town? Who knows. I’m sure I messed up a few Spanish words… and the struggle bus rolled on. Across the dirt roads, past a new winery, through the potholes, onto her street, and past her poverty-stricken neighbors.

She directed me to her shanty, got out, quietly thanked me and closed the door. I couldn’t believe I willingly handed her back to the man who gave her a shiner. Getting involved in such family drama was never a good idea though, especially as foreigners, so I turned around and drove home, shaking my head.


The questions I usually ask God are honest, though not always gentle or served with tea and crumpets.

What the hell was that?! You allow an abused woman to walk into our lives and back out again eight hours later? Right back into the shack where a jerk of a guy will probably get drunk again? Probably hit her again? Probably swell her eye socket again? What am I supposed to do with this? Was that a test? Did you just want to see if we’d take her in? Fine—we took her in. Now what? I go to bed, sleep soundly next to a man who would never strike me, wake up, make my people breakfast, and act like everything’s normal? Everything is not normal. How many other women in this town deal with such idiots and repetitive abuse?

Are you listening?! Of course you’re listening. Are you gonna tell me what to do? Yes? Maybe? When?


I know God can handle my pointed questions, frustrations, and disbelief. Our anger does not scare Him. We can file repetitive grievances and He can handle an infinite number of concerns and complaints. All. Day. Long.

But can I handle His perceived silence?

I never saw the woman again. Maybe she was a homebody, or maybe she avoided me in town. With only 1,300-ish people, one market, and constant parades, seeing each other again would be likely. Either way, I have always wondered about her. I’ll forever feel grateful God trusted us to help in a small way, but honestly… it all felt hopeless.

So many needs, so few workers. So much hurt, so little time to heal. Our involvement in the lives of the locals vacillated between productive and questionable. Loving and confusing. Willing and weary. Their layers of hurt and complexity combined with our lack of cultural experience and American brains didn’t always mesh.

Not all stories have happy endings—obviously. Which is fine in the movies, but grates hard against my personality in real life. I’d still love to put that man out to pasture (there were dozens to pick from) until he sobers up for good. I’d still love to rescue that woman too. Would she even believe me if I sent her this picture?

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

I’ve learned, and am still learning, how sometimes God asks us to do a small part of the puzzle but not the whole thing. Sometimes He wants us to obey today so He can accomplish something new tomorrow. Sometimes He places situations in our paths to help grow our faith. Our trust. Our resilience. 

And He doesn’t always reveal why. Am I okay with not knowing the why? Rarely. I trust Him though, so I keep moving forward in faith.

What about your story? Has God ever asked you to do something seemingly ludicrous? Pointless? Confusing? Comment below and trust your words will bless those who read them. I look forward to responding. 

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  • Wendy

    This post reminds me of Elisabeth Elliot’s book “A path through suffering – Discovering the relationship between God’s mercy and our pain”. In chapter 7 she describes an incident, then says “God reminded me that it was not for nothing. Of course I wanted to know exactly what it was for, but there were no explanations. Weeks later He granted me just a tiny glimpse of a part of His purpose. I told the story to a group, and a young woman said to me afterwards, ‘I know why you missed two planes in a row. I put myself in your place, and I knew I would have been furious with my husband. God spoke to me about that. He also reminded me how stupid it is to lash out when somebody has made a mistake – after all, nobody would do a thing like that on purpose’.”
    Hope you can read the whole thing… xoxo

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thanks for chiming in, Wendy; that’s a great story. Elisabeth Elliot is certainly an amazing example to us all. Happy Easter to you and your family!

  • Debbie

    Years ago, in Russia I was leading an AWANA at a local church. The pastor was up front preaching so I went back and sat by his wife and her beautiful blonde toddler daughter. We chatted (w my interpreter) about church, AWANA and then I asked if she believed in Jesus. She answered “no, because my husband is a pastor, and he beats me (she had a black eye) and tried to make me abort this baby girl. So now he doesn’t speak to me because I refused to abort her. I felt it was wrong. But I don’t want to believe in his Jesus”. I was totally dumbfounded and disheartened and broken to my core. I wept with her. We prayed. I was able to tell her about the true Jesus and his redemptive love. I went to the leaders on our team and they approached the “pastor”. They met with him and counseled him and it appeared he repented. The next time I saw her she had joy. We were only there for a week. I’ve never forgotten her or the impact she had on me. And the conviction of what our testimony says to others.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Holy moly, Debbie. That is a heart-wrenching story. Thank you so much for sharing. Proud of you for telling her about the true Jesus and his redemptive love.

  • Marti

    I love reading your blogs. They say it all. I have no comment except to KEEP ON. Your questions of God are my questions of God. Like you, sister, I just keep keeping’ on. Mucho love. See, I know Spanish.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thank you, Marti. I always appreciate your kind words. Yes–keepin’ on is what we do! Also… your Spanglish rocks.

  • Vicki

    Thank you so much for sharing this story, Carrie. So many things we don’t understand. I think of Job, as he was righteous, yet horrible things happened to him. Job never turned away from God, even though he didn’t understand. And God gave him blessings at the end. I am humbled by what I don’t know and understand.
    Oh God, increase our trust in You. Increase our faith.

    • Carrie Talbott

      You’re right, Vicki. Sooo many things we don’t understand! Yes, I have a deep admiration for Job; can’t even imagine staying faithful through what he experienced. Thanks for reading.

  • Jen

    Carrie – this is so well-told and so well-questioned. Thankful we have Jesus’s example of crying out with questions. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Thanks, Jen. So true! Sometimes just being able to ask the hard questions is good therapy. And free. 🙂

  • Jeanne Baker

    Thanks, Carrie… Why? maybe the response should be …How Lord do I go on?
    Our Associate Pastor and wife just buried their 7 year old darling son as a result of being run over by a roofing truck. Why? If God gave them the answer .. it wouldn’t be good enough. Been thinking … God does answer Why’s in our lives… Maybe not to the questions we are asking but … Why does Godput up with sinners? Why did He send Jesus? Why is He strength and refuge in our lives? Why.. Why Why ? Because of His love. Surely Christianity makes no sense without eternity and maybe in that state we won’t need to know the answer because we’ll be in the Presence of His answer. Tough things in life … really tough.

    • Carrie Talbott

      Great observations, Jeanne. I know you’ve seen your share of tough things in this life. Can’t even imagine going through any of this without the HOPE we have in Christ. thanks for chiming in.

  • Shawn Rochelle Johnson

    My husband and I felt led to take in 2 Russian children from ICA (Int’l Christian Adoptions) back when our kids were about 6, 9 & 11. A 9 yr old boy & his sister was 7 (Maxim & Zoya). They came from a orphanage along with 28 other children for 6 weeks. My 3 kids and I were open to adopting them out the chute and my husband was a firm no, saying “we’re here to just provide a place for them while someone else adopts them.” We’d had a trip in the works prior to agreeing to take them in and they were to be handed off to another family 4 days before having to go back to Russia. ALL the children go back but the families that want to adopt go to Russia to pick them up after the paperwork is completed. Just FYI…after about 2 weeks I was not ‘led’ to adopt them…handling my own 3 kids + these 2 (who didn’t speak English mind you), felt like I was a short order cook, & cleaning 24/7. Try making your kids eat veggies eat them when you can’t make the ‘guest’s’ eat them! The night before we were to drop them off at the office for the swap, my husband was emphatic saying “we can’t send them back to Russia!”…of course! Now HE was feeling stressed because up until that time, no one had wanted to adopt Maxim & Zoya and the clock was ticking! We arrived at the office, the Suburban packed to the gills with luggage and it was a cry fest in that parking lot! My husband took them into the office and while we were waiting, a cop & his wife show up to check out the kids & meet my husband. He did a ‘sell job’ on the kids telling him how wonderful they were! After a bit we left for the airport. We returned from our trip about 2 weeks later and the cops wife saw me drive by and when I got home I had a message on the phone. She said “We decided to adopt Maxim & Zoya! I have 2 boys of my own but one is wheelchair bound and I always wanted a baby daughter! I figured out I couldn’t possibly push a wheelchair & a stroller around at the same time and we fell in love with the children!” There’s a lot more to the story but I’ll stop here. What we couldn’t see, God could. My husband and I were never on the same page about adopting these two children and never let us get the point where we would be. But He knew the future and He knew the kids would be adopted!

    • Carrie Talbott

      Wow, Shawn… I never knew that story, but it’s awesome! Not knowing is sometimes the hardest part. So cool how it worked out for that other family to adopt them. Thanks so much for sharing!

  • Karen K

    God’s timing and ways are not ours. All He asks is that we trust Him and obey. Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing.