The Next Arrest
The day I returned from being put on trial was Barbara’s birthday and we had planned a celebration for the evening. Ivan’s wife was one of the guests and she asked to stay overnight. We all went to bed by 11 pm and I was out like a light.
At midnight the doorbell rang–and rang and rang. I stumbled groggily to the front door. “Who is it?” I asked.
“Police! Open up!” came the gruff reply.
I opened the door carefully and sure enough, there were four plainclothes men. I stepped back to let them in.
“We are here to arrest you!” the leader announced.
I blinked in astonishment. “What have I done? I was just acquitted of any wrong-doing!”
“We have new charges against you,” answered the policeman.
“I want to see your warrant,” I demanded. I was now wide awake, feeling aggressive and angry. The aftermath of my trial the day before, the stress of travel, the party and my general weariness all contributed to anger to rising up in me.
I knew that this was not going to be resolved quickly, and could easily stretch on for days, maybe ending in deportation. I chose not to praise but to complain. Not a good decision.
The policeman handed me his papers. I scanned them quickly. “This has nothing to do with me,” I protested. “This is a warrant for Ivan and Harry for a past due bill to a publisher.”
“Look at the last item,” said the policeman. There was a small strip of tissue-like paper stapled onto the bottom of the warrant. I squinted at the small type, reading, “Also pick up Harry and Ivan’s partners in crime.”
“That means you,” said the policeman. Then he turned to his men and said, “Let’s see what we can take for evidence.” He turned back to me and asked, “Where’s your office?”
I led him into the room I used for my office. He spied my new typewriter, the one with a memory, the best thing before personal computers became available.
“Let’s take this,” he said.
“What for?” I asked, “That has nothing to contribute to evidence!”
“Well,” said the policeman as he began looking into my filing cabinet drawers, “maybe you are right.”
He pulled out the file with all my prayer letters for this year. “What does this mean: ‘Dear Friends?’ ”
“Just what it says, these are letters to some of my friends!” I was getting more irritated by the minute.
Another policeman said, “Look at all these Christian books, we can take some of them!” Then after closer examination he said, “No, here’s our seal on this one from the last time we took him in. These have already been cleared as acceptable.”
In the end they decided there was nothing worth taking. I was relieved because once something was taken for evidence it took weeks to get it back, and who knows what condition it would be in then.
“Ok, come with us,” said the leader.
“I’m not sure I want to!” I said, putting my face just inches from his. “You know very well that you are just harassing me. My acquittal in July said clearly that I’m doing nothing wrong. You have no basis for arresting me.”
The policeman took a step backwards. All the policemen were shorter than me and with my dander up I looked intimidating. These same men had been in on my last arrest and had made me carry big book bags, an easy task for a farm boy, but they had been impressed with my strength and nicknamed me “Rambo.” They did not want to fight with me.
“Now, big brother,” he said soothingly, “We all have to be up at this hour to do our work. Just cooperate and everything will be all right. We don’t want to bring any charges against you for resisting arrest.”
That got my attention. I reluctantly went and got ready to go with them. Knowing that I would spend some time inside a bare, cold cell, sleeping on a cement floor, I put on long underwear, pants without a heavy seam on the side, three pairs of socks, two sweaters, my jacket with extra pens in various pockets, and a wool hat,. Then off we went to the national police headquarters.
After we left, Ivan’s wife came out of the living room where she had been sleeping. When Barbara filled her in on what had happened, she made a face and gave her opinion of the police with a strong local word: “Microbes!”
The boys also had been wakened by the commotion. Thirteen-year old Josh came out and read a Psalm with Barbara to comfort her. Nat prayed and thanked God that I was allowed to suffer for Him. This response from her sons cheered Barbara up considerably.
The next day she called my parents to tell them of the recent events and to ask for prayer. My mother’s immediate response was, “Come home!”
Barbara said the answer that came out of her mouth was clearly from the Spirit as she said, “Discouragement does not come from God!” So true.
Picture: my brave and beautiful wife