Monday, February 8, 2016

Looking Beyond the Obvious

My reaction was instinctive.

After all, I've lived in a Third World Nation in the heart of Africa for more than a decade.  In a culture whose conscience has been asleep for hundreds of years.  In a culture where stealing has been renamed as "being clever."

Dragging the key to unlock the door as I dashed to the house, nothing was on my mind except get to the bathroom sooner than soon. It was only after nature had taken its course, that I remembered that I had left my Kindle Fire (a digital device) in the seat pocket of the van in which I had traveled.  Immediately I called the driver ... but he didn't answer his phone.

That all too familiar resignation began to settled over me.  But, I would have to wait until morning to confirm my suspicion.

We have a vehicle and I can drive it.  In fact, I do drive it locally in our city of around 300,000.  But, driving in Kampala is another story. So, I do what many others do.  I hire a car and a driver for trips to the capital city and back.

These vehicles are supposed to be kept safe during the night by a one or two guards.  I discovered the next morning that the vehicle I had hired "slept" in a lot with about 40 other vehicles.

Kindle Fire Tablets are amazing tools
Email, Facebook, books, music, even video calls!
It's not uncommon for these security guards, who get paid little, to be an accomplice in theft in Uganda.  Thieves benefit from their assistance and the reward often balances the minimum wages they are paid.  And, besides, people who make mistakes with their resources ... like leaving devices in vehicles with broken windows ... are actually participants in the crime as well!  Stories have been told.  Stories are being told.

When I spoke with the driver the next morning, he confirmed that he had taken the van to the lot and locked it up.  But, he didn't check for anything left in the van.  It was after midnight and he simply went home.  He noted that his phone cataloged a missed call by Paul Hunter, but decided to call me in the morning.

I reminded him that, although the vehicle could be locked, the window on the sliding door was broken and offered easy access to the van.  I could hear the panic in his voice as he told me he was rushing to the lot to see if the Kindle was still there or missing.

My new friend Jamil
I didn't need to hear his words to know that my Kindle had been stolen.  The despair in his voice was enough to validate my worst fears. I told him I would dress and come with my son Chris to confront the guard.

This was not the first time for items to be stolen from me, and, with my attitude already affected by those experiences I needed Chris to make sure I didn't misrepresent Christ.  When I told Chris I was ready he replied, "I'll not go with you."  I said, "Chris, I need you."  He told me, "There is no need to go.  The Kindle is there."

That was the last thing I suspected.  But, it turns out that there are some good people in Uganda. My driver, Meddie, and the security guard, Jamil, (minus his bow and arrows he uses) came to my house that afternoon to return the Kindle.

Praying that Jamil will soon be my brother!
It was only then that I realized the experience was the front story, but the back story was much bigger.  After thanking Jamil for knowing the van was vulnerable and seeing what he thought was a large phone in it and taking the Kindle home with him, so he could return it to Meddie in the morning ... I began talking to him about Jesus.  Such a good person must have a relationship with God through Christ.

But, no, Jamil had no personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  I had the privilege of sharing the story of God's redemption with Jamil and asking him to take a few days to consider surrendering his life to Him.  I enjoyed sensing the work of God's Spirit giving him understanding.  I look forward to hearing his response as I seek to build a relationship with him.

A running stomach.  A forgotten Kindle.  A broken window.  An imagined theft.  They all worked together because God loves people and wants everyone to be restored in a relationship with Him through His Son Jesus. And, He can orchestrate details in order for us to join him that desire.

I'm looking forward to writing the rest of the story as it unfolds.


  1. The Lord of the harvest has no doubt called you to work in His field. I love you my brother and so long to be in Uganda with you.

    1. We will trust the Lord to make a way. Thanks for the encouragement, Sam.

  2. Just been studying the Precept study Of Luke and Chapter 14 tells of the lost sheep and lost coin. Jesus spoke of persistence and that is where you were headed Paul. But God had your back covered just as He tells about in Luke. Anxious to hear the rest of the story, in His time.

    1. I'm looking forward to living and writing the rest of the story to ... in His time.


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