A Day in Court

Sorry I am  late this week. In fact, I am writing this from hospital where I have been for the last few days. So this will be my last post for a while – with apologies to all. All of who know the Lord as our Savior rest in the assurance of His continual care and we can leave these “ups and down” in His hands.

When we were assigned to open a station in a new area, the cultural chief and headmen were the “rulers” in that chieftainship. The colonial government worked through those men – they adjudicated disputes and maintained order; independence and its new administrative changes had not yet come to the country.
When I first went out to that area to survey for the new station location, I had to deal with the chief and his local headmen. Because of a major mistake I made in my survey, I had to return a week later and in his court, before all assembled, I apologized and expressed my mistake. (This story is included in my book “Around the Campfire”). It seems my apology and acknowledgment of making a mistake so influenced him that he opened his arms in acceptance and always welcomed me into his living compound. In fact, whenever I had to attend his court for any reason, he had me sit among the tribal elders and headmen even if I was the one seeking a decision on some matter. It was a real honor – I can only pray that all said and done gave a positive reflection of our Lord and of His Salvation freely offered to all.
Cultural protocol called for the headmen to adjudicate most matters in their own village/villages. Plots for garden, personal disputes, abusive drunkenness, stolen cattle – these were some of the many things they had to deal with. If, however, they were unable to resolve the matter, it was then referred to the chief’s court and final decisions or judgement would be pronounced. Several times, while just “driving by”, I was hailed and told that the chief would like to see me. He took me into the court and even though I was not a contributor in discussions or judgements, was able to sit though the entire case before him.
I saw a man, who was guilty of a major offence, fined a several thousand shillings (the currency in use at that time). The guilty one just had one question – “four-legged shillings”? He had a lot of livestock and wanted to know if he could pay in kind. The reply was “Yes” and several elders and headmen were assigned to ensure the value and completion of the transaction.
I saw 2 men, violently angry with each other – so angry they had to be restrained – who, who when judgement was pronounced. left the barazza (judgement hall) and walked away holding hands!
All those experiences in what was then the “chief’s court and compound” provided not only recognition and acceptance there but acceptance as we visited surrounding villages in evangelism. Only time will tell what eternal results came about as the Gospel of Salvation was preached and explained. Njima, Salawe is always well remembered by us not only because it was home for about 10 years or because of our blood-sweat-tears that were shed there in activity but because of relationships developed and because of the many who prayed for our Lord to work for His Glory out there.
It was an encouragement to go back to visit after more than 30 years of absence. The African pastor told of how the church had grown, the many new churches started and of individuals who were now in leadership in church matters. TO GOD BE THE GLORY!

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