Letting God Speak Through Her

She could have run. She could have been killed. Instead she talked, and more than 800 students were spared.

By Antoinette Tuff, Atlanta, Georgia

As appeared in

August 20, 2013. I started the day in darkness and went in search of light. Literally and spiritually. Same as every morning lately, ever since my husband–the man I’d loved since we were kids–left me. At one point I felt so hopeless and broken I tried to end my life, but God saved me from myself.

Now I was leaning on my faith harder than ever. I got up in the dark, 5:00 a.m., and went down to the kitchen. Turned on the light, sat at the table and talked to God, told him what was going on in my head and my heart, the questions and doubts I had.

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Then I sat in silence and listened. That was something I’d been working on these past weeks, clearing my mind so that even when my world was crumbling, God’s words could come through. I ended my quiet time reading the Twenty-third Psalm.

I fixed a hot breakfast–bacon, eggs and toast–for my 22-year-old son, Derrick. I could hear him pulling himself down the stairs. He was born with a neurological disorder that’s left him legally blind and unable to walk.

Yet if you spend just a little time with him, what you notice aren’t his disabilities but his God-given gifts: his lively mind, his singing, his irrepressible joy in life. He was making his way through college, following in the footsteps of his smart older sister, LaVita, who was in law school.

Derrick climbed into his wheelchair and rolled over to the table. “I gotta get to the school,” I said. “I put your lunch and dinner in the fridge.” We liked to eat together but by the time I got home–I’d been working three jobs to make ends meet–it would be late.

“Thanks, Momma,” Derrick said, hugging me quick. “Love you.”

“I love you too, baby.”

I pulled into the parking lot at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy, the Atlanta elementary school where I’m the bookkeeper, and was in my office by 7:00 a.m. I paid some vendors’ bills, updated the school database, did a bit of paperwork.

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The principal stopped by and asked if I could cover for the receptionist from 12:30 to 1:00. No problem.

I was about to head up to the front office when a call came in on my cell phone. A woman from my bank. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

In all the upheaval of our marriage breaking up, some payments weren’t made, and $14,000 was due immediately, or I’d lose our house.

I hung up and wept. Somehow I had to keep a roof over Derrick’s head. What in the world are we going to do now, Lord? I asked.

My office phone rang. The receptionist, wondering where I was. I pulled myself together and went to the front office. I took the desk behind the counter. Belinda, one of our new teachers, stopped to ask my advice about health insurance.

Just then the door swung open. A short, stocky man. Black T-shirt, pants, shoes, backpack. Around my son’s age. But not like him. Not like him at all. He held a long black gun, a rifle, one hand on the barrel, the other on the trigger.

Must be a prank, I thought.

Then I saw his eyes.

Eyes don’t lie, and his were burning. “This is not a joke!” he yelled. “We are all going to die today!”

Belinda stifled a gasp. All the man had to do was run through the side door of the office, take a few steps down the hall, and he’d find classrooms full of vulnerable kids. There were more than 800 children at McNair, 250 on this floor alone.

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Your Comments (15)

Yes the words that came through you were really from God. They touched me so much that I started crying and praying for all those who are good at heart but unstable emotionally and land into all sorts of wrong situations.Thank you for narrating the incidence. Thank You God! Praise You God.

This story has caught more of my attention than any of the other Guidepost stories published.

I rejoice at the wonders of God's grace and mercy. I appreciate the inner strength, fortitude and peace He gave our sister in spite of the giant pressures around her. To Him alone be all the glory, in Jesus' name, Amen.

Antoinette, you are truly blessed. Thank you for sharing this wonderful story - it really lifted my spirits this morning and made me realize that if I will be still and listen, my answers will come. I pray that Michael will be able to follow your lead and listen to God for his answers. God bless you and your family.

Wow! What an awesome story. May God bless Antoinette and Michael. I am going through something very terrible and scary right now, so it is wonderful to be reminded to stay connected to God. Because of this story I know things will end up better for me.

I was looking for some spiritual uplifting and what a treat this was. I know in my heart God led me to this article.
Bless you, my friend

The story of the gunman really impressed me. I am trying to deal with my wifes sickness; but I know GOD knows best.. HE is large and in charge!!!

Wow I love this story and how it shows the agape love God has given all of us we just need to use it. Thank you Lord for being in the mist of all of that....God Bless Antoinette and Michaels family as well...and that he listen to her ...Now that is God at work....:))

What a miracle! God responded to Antoinette's faith and her willingness to obey God rather than the terrible fear she must have felt when confronted by Michael's intention to kill them all. She believed, God protected them, and Michael was given another chance to live a God-guided life! Alleluia!

Amen....being obedient to God is not always easy but what a blessing when we listen to him and do what he wants instead of us.....I'm going thru this right now with my job and I know Gods timing is the best timing....God Bless...all....:))

It's people like Antoinette that gives us all hope that God is with us every single minute of our lives.It's an inspiration to hear about stories such as that.May God bless Antoinette for her courage to quell the situation.And may God bless Michael Hill and his family also.

After saving everyone was she able to keep her house----

@ Brenda, I think the essence of telling about her house problem (and other predicaments)was to make us realize that whatever it is that we are going through at any point in time, there is someone out there going through worse. There she was, weeping about her predicaments and then she gets to meet someone who was going through worse! It is a lesson for us all. All the same, I too would love to know if she solved her house problem. I ernestly hope and pray that she surmounted that too. May God console and bless her; Amen.

Antoinnette is an inspiration to me as I am earning a degree to become a special ed teacher. I felt moved to read her story before I realized what it was about and know that God put her in that place to save those children and school staff, as well as Michael. Without the pain she went through in her personal life, she may not have been able to do all that she did that day. And without Michael's medication, he needed her and God to bring him out safely as well. This story may save others in the future. Thank you for sharing such an amazing example of God's awesome power to bring about miracles amid the hardships, and Antoinette's faith and strength in an unimaginable crisis.

Amen.:))....we never know how God will use us....