When I think back on the last few months the verse that immediately comes to mind is James 1:2-4 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
It has been one of those seasons when it just seems they keep coming one trial, test, disappointment, after another. One of the biggest trials and thus testimonies for me personally came a few months ago (could it really have been that long ago – yikes). Those who follow us on facebook are aware that our vehicle got broken into last time we were in Kampala and our luggages, including our passports, were stolen. I want to again thank you all that interceding on our behalf during that trial and feel compelled to testify of what God did on our behalf for HIS glory. So as promised here is the rest of the story………..
In general Isaac and I really try and limit our trips to Kampala since it is both usually expensive and dangerous but sometimes they are really unavoidable; this was one such trip. We both had to get our passports renewed, get a cashiers check for 6 months rent and the vehicle needed some repairs so we planned on coming in on a Thursday running around and getting the errands done and making a 8am appointment with the Embassy Friday morning. So we packed up the car early Thursday morning and were on the road by 6.
We made good time to Kampala and headed right to the Forex to get the rent check and cash a check for spending money and money for the vehicle repairs. That stop went without a hitch and we soon found ourselves in one of the big shopping centers to catch lunch and buy some groceries. When we entered the parking lot we were surprised by all the security in place. Not only were the police on hand but an additional security company was checking inside all the vehicles. We found a primo spot just next to the police station and heading in.
Everything was going according to schedule until we headed out to the car to find that the doors were unlocked. At first Isaac was shocked to think he would have forgotten to lock the car and it was not until I noticed that both of our bags were missing from the back seat that we even noticed the damage to the drivers side lock. It was quite the surreal moment when you almost can not believe that it is really happening to you. You shake your head and immediately start praying …"Lord help me to not freak out, you are in control, I trust in you, give me wisdom and peace that goes beyond what is happening here.” Contained in our bags were both our passports, filled out paperwork for our new passports including the necessary US cash, our rent check, a blank check from our US checking account, multiple bibles including ones we both have had over 10+ years and our bible journals.
We right away go over get the security and police and begin going thru the process knowing fully well that there is nothing that they can really do. As it turns out as we are talking to all the parties involved we were able to catch one of the security guys in a lie and now are fully convinced that he was somehow involved with the burglary. While Isaac was sorting out how to proceed, I sat near the car praying and the “suspect” guard came by…. I looked him in the eyes and told him I knew that he was involved and to take whatever they wanted but please to just drop off the passports to the US embassy. It really was one of those moments were you know that he knows that you know but you both know that police are not going to do anything about it.
Anyways we all go down to the police station to file a report about the theft and the missing passports (which is necessary to bring to the embassy). We finish the paperwork and have to rush back to the shopping center to get new passport pictures, print out the new necessary passport forms and post on facebook for prayer support. We barely finish all the tasks before the shopping center closes. Needless to say this was not how we pictured our day would turn out.
We wake up reminded that His mercies are new every morning and head out to catch our 8 am appointment at the Embassy. We arrive a little bit early so have to wait but when we finally get up to the window, we begin explaining the situation when the embassy worker tells us to hold on a minute. He excuses himself and a few minutes later returns with both our passports in his hands! Upon seeing our passports again, we are both shocked and amazed and begin thanking the Lord. The Embassy worker does not know much about how they even got to his department but that they were turned in as having been found.
Oh but wait there is more, I will try and keep to the short version as this post is getting long…… Okay so we finish our business at the Embassy still in shock and in awe of God and decide to go get the car worked on especially since we need to have new locks installed. While we are having the car worked on we get a call from the US Embassy investigation division who begin asking us about our stolen bags and they ask us to come back to the Embassy. Since the car is being worked on we can’t drive over so I stay with the car and Isaac takes a boda-boda (motorcycle) back over to the embassy.
As it turns out the Embassy has two “boys” in holding regarding our passports that they turned in and this suspicious bag they have in there possession. When Isaac gets there the embassy staff decided to take everyone down to the police station where they go thru the bag which is actually Isaac’s and inside find most of our missing items. The truly amazing this was that on the car ride over to the police Isaac gets a chance to talk to the thieves and one of boys named Robert shares with Isaac that once some missionaries had helped him with school fees and how he wants to be a good Christian and record Christen music. It was nothing less than the power of the Holy Spirit at work to convict and prompt to active repentance.
After hearing Roberts’s testimony, Isaac decided to not press charges and instead spin the idea of “how could a true thief return what he has stolen”; knowing that what Robert needed now to draw him back to the Lord was not judgment but mercy. Everyone seems to agree with this logic and even all the police were amazed. They said this type of thing never happens and that we must pray hard for such a miracle to happen. All glory to God!
They way things ended up the only things not returned were a little US cash, Isaac’s iPod, some of his clothes and toiletries, and a blank check from our US account. At first we were really worried about the blank check but this is not an infomercial but a God-fomercial so yes people there is more….
Isaac finished all the business at the police station and the Embassy staff dropped him off at the car repair shop within a few minutes of the car being finished. We cleared our bill with the mechanic and drove home to Fort Portal the same afternoon.
When we got home we immediately went to work trying to deal with our US checking account being compromised. We were all too familiar with this process having just had 6 months ago close our account and open a new one when our account was defrauded out of $7000 from a place in Botswana. Needless to say we were more than bummed to once again be in the same boat.
I called the fraud specialists for our bank and told her the situation but when I gave her the bank info for that stolen check she seemed confused and informed me that that account was already closed. As it turned out I had by accident taken the checks from the account that had been closed because of fraud instead of our current active checking account checks. Never had such a big mistake turned out to be such a blessing in disguise. The next morning we called the Forex bureau and explained to them that the check that we wrote them was from a closed account and that we would send someone on the bus with a new valid one. Even they could not believe our testimony.
Even as I type this and remember back I am speechless at the sovereignty of the Lord. Let me encourage you that no matter what trial you might currently be in know fully and confidently that God has given this struggle, trial, situation, hardship, persecution, test to you not to crush you but because He knows you can withstand and overcome it. He is using you in ways that you can not begin to see or maybe even understand but continue to preserve and you might just get a glimpse at his purpose…. God knew and Isaac and I would not be overcome by this trial but that we would be able to be faithful witnesses to Him, a tool in which to use to reach a wayward son, named Robert.
1 Thessalonians 3:3 “so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them.”