My bus arrived at 5am in the little town where I was to be put on trial. I peered out the window through the semi-darkness: there were more horses and donkeys than cars in the parking lot. It was certainly a small place and appeared to be quite primitive.
This did not bode well for a foreigner. It was like a northan Yankee being accused of a crime in a backwoods town in Georgia: the potential for truth and justice being served was minimal. I asked about the schedule for buses leaving for the capital city that day. There was only one, departing at noon. The restaurant in the bus station was open so I had a bowl of soup.
It was almost three hours before the courthouse opened, so I went to the one small hotel in town to see if I could get a bed and some sleep.
“Sorry,” said the clerk, “all the rooms are full.”
Just at that moment a man came down the stairs and stopped at the desk to pay. After taking his money, the clerk turned to me and said, “You can have his bed if you’d like.”
That was my first gift from the Lord in this destitute place, a nice God sighting of perfect timing and the clerk’s thoughtfulness. I went upstairs, got a good two hours of sleep and felt much better. At 7:45 I came down and asked the clerk what I owed him.
“Nothing, the other man paid for the night.” I thanked him warmly, pleased at this additional little touch from the Lord of a free bed, His second gift to me.
I went out to find the courthouse. It didn’t take long in a town with only one street. I entered the building, and finding the foyer empty, I took some time to study the notice board. There was a list of the cases to be tried today. I searched for my name and there it was, at the very bottom.
Hmm, getting on the noon bus looked doubtful. I shot up a little prayer, “Lord, I sure would like to get home tonight since tomorrow is Barbara’s birthday, and you know how important birthdays are to Germans!”
Just then a door opened and a policeman entered. He saw me and came over. “I see you are a foreigner,” he said.
“That’s right,” I replied.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“I have a court case today. Here, the last one on the list,” I answered, pointing to it.
“Well,” said the policeman, “I’m the most important person in this town. I can get anything done that I want, and I’ll get you in first this morning!”
“Ah, that would be great,” I answered, surprised that he would offer to help.
“Just wait here until the judges come. I’ll talk with them.”
True to his word, he was in the foyer when the judges arrived. He called them aside and spoke quietly for a few minutes, gesturing towards me. After the judges had entered the courtroom, the policeman came over and said, “Ok, you are up first. Get ready to go in!” That was my third gift from the Lord. A three star God sighting!
Shortly my name was called and I entered the courtroom. It was small, and the judges sat at normal desks. They started with the standard procedure of recording my personal information. It took half an hour for them to get all the information straight.
“This does not look good,” I said to myself. “If they have trouble just copying things out of my passport, how will they understand the truth in this case?”
The prosecuting attorney then stood and held up a brochure, “Is this one of your publications that you have been sending into the country?” he asked, handing me the pamphlet.
I looked at it. “This is not mine, the address is not mine and I did not send it into the country,” I answered.
The prosecutor took back the pamphlet. “That doesn’t matter,” he said, “we will determine if it is legal to send such propaganda into the country. If it is judged to be illegal, you will go to jail. If not, then you will be acquitted.”
I knew from the experience of others that the “justice system” here was more interested in finding someone to punish than finding the actual guilty party. What the prosecutor had said was true.
One of the judges took the brochure and said, “We will send this case to a specialist in the capital, Professor T, and then make a decision based on his input.”
Professor T! He was the friend who had briefed me for this trial! Here was the fourth gift, a four star God sighting! By having the court use my professor friend, whom I knew would give an accurate, legal opinion, I could see clearly how God was both vindicating me and defending me against evil and wicked men.
The judge continued. “We will send you a notice of your next hearing. Depending on the opinion of the specialist, it may not be necessary for you to attend. You may go now.”
I walked out a happy man, not only free to go, but done in time to get on the noon bus. I had lived Psalm 43 and seen God’s mighty hand at work. I slept peacefully on the bus on the way home.
Picture: Parking lot of the bus station when I arrived.