Police checkpoints dot the roads throughout Uganda, making random motorist inspections unavoidable. Usually the officers are ensuring that drivers have insurance and valid driving permits. In some cases, however, the police bring false charges against motorists to get bribes in return for letting them go.
Like most westerners living in Uganda, I’ve been stopped by the police a number of times. Once I was accused of spying for another country because a passenger in my car took a picture as we drove across the Nile River. Another time, a man fabricated a story and convinced police that I had caused a motorcycle accident that resulted in the amputation of his leg. I had to hire a Ugandan lawyer, who ultimately proved that I was not involved in the alleged accident. Later, we found out that the man had both his legs!
I find it frightening and unsettling to fall victim to abuses of power. What I’ve been through, however, pales significantly with what the apostle Paul endured as he traveled to foreign lands. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 6:5 and 2 Corinthians 11:24-26 that during his missionary journeys he was beaten with rods; shipwrecked; stoned; lost at sea; imprisoned; endangered by robbers, raging rivers, angry citizens, officials, and—worst of all—by men who claimed to be believers but were not.
Through it all, Paul’s contentment in the Lord increased as he learned “the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little” (Philippians 4:12).
If you find it difficult, as I do, to react honorably when you are mistreated, then ask God to help you. “For the Lord’s sake, respect all human authority” (1 Peter 2:13). By doing so, your witness for Jesus will be magnified and He will be glorified.
NLT 365-day reading plan passage for today: Acts 17:1-15
Read 1 Peter 2:20. Consider why God is pleased with you when you do what is right and patiently endure unfair treatment.
How can you help those who are being mistreated for the cause of Christ? What do you find in God’s Word that helps you not to be defeated by your circumstances?