The taxi stopped in the African city. I got out and started to cross the road. Halfway across, four military officers approached and escorted me to the other side.
I smiled and said, “Thank you.”
They said, “You are under arrest. It is illegal to cross the road. Come with me.”
I followed an officer into a small, windowless room the police used as a holding cell.
“Wait here for your trial.”
My trial? With a judge and a jury?
A few hours later, six officers surrounded me and escorted me to another room.
“Give me your documents.” The judge said.
I handed them to him. “I’m a missionary under the national church.”
“That’s no excuse for breaking the law.” The judge yelled. “You have dishonored us and disobeyed our law. You must pay us three hundred dollars or be sent to prison for three months.”
A sergeant pointed to a Bible. “I’m a Christian and he is telling the truth. Here are the official lists of people we have sent to prison today for crossing the road.”
My heart pounded and my limbs trembled.
“I don’t have three hundred dollars.”
(And I didn’t know about the law.)
I suddenly saw myself in prison. If family members didn’t bring water and food, the prisoner died, but there were also violent criminals in there. I wouldn’t survive.
Then the Lord filled me with a deep peace. Dying and going to Heaven felt like my best option at that moment.
So I said, “I confess. I’m guilty. Take me to prison.”
A strange silence hovered in the room.
The judge said. “We can’t take a proper white lady like you to prison. Give us three hundred dollars, and we’ll let you go.”
“I don’t have three hundred dollars. I’m guilty of breaking the law and deserve three months in prison.”
The judge asked, “Why don’t you get on your knees and beg for mercy?”
“Mercy? No. I don’t deserve mercy because I’m guilty. I deserve prison.”
Then I started preaching. “But we’re all sinners and guilty before God Almighty. We all deserve to be punished and go to Hell for our sins. Only by believing on Jesus and confessing our sins can we be saved.”
My sermon went on for quite a while, and they seemed to listen.
Finally the judge said. “I’m releasing you. You are free.”
As I walked away on trembling legs, I was surprised that they let me go. I thought I was on my way to prison.
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9