At the turn of the new year I never thought that I’d be in Africa. I never thought I’d be in The Gambia. And I sure didn’t think that I’d be sitting across the room from the Chief Justice of The Gambian Supreme Court and one of his justices. But that is how our day started today.
After a nice breakfast of eggs, coffee, fruit and crepes we hurried off for another day of meetings. Our faithful friend and driver picked us up and we headed toward the capital city of The Gambia, Banjul. The road, as usual, was filled with the smell of diesel, the sounds of horns and the many colors of people selling everything you can think of from their stalls. Really, I mean everything. You need cement. You can buy it. How about tires, cell phones, cigarettes, fruit, and “clean water”. You can even buy what looks like sand bags. Mmmmm…In a country built on sand. I commend the person who can pull that one off.
Soon enough we arrive in Banjul and have a short walk into the High Court of The Gambia. It’s a simple building and little security. We ask for where our first meeting will take place. We walk next to a pleasant courtyard, up some stairs and next we find that we are greeting a kind man with a sweet smile on his face. We are invited to sit and began with introductions. Soon we were blessed with the rare opportunity listen to a man, full of life, love and profound wisdom. However, it was clear that his wisdom was not born from the textbook or a clever professor. His was much more than that. You see this man was not only a judge, he is also a pastor. And God had given him insights and understanding that few have.
After some sharing some stories we asked if it would be okay to pray for him. In his hunger and humility for whatever God has for him he said yes.
Then…before we know it our new friend was on the phone with the Chief Justice’s office to see if we could come down for a visit and some prayer. Moments later we are greeted by another, sweet and joyful man who quickly sent away for fruit, cookies, coffee and tea for his guests. Again, we asked him to share his story and we sat and listed to a man full of God’s wisdom.
You see, in The Gambia, people know the difference between good and evil. They see it every day. The battle between life and death, darkness and light, good and evil is real to them. And people, like these two justices aren’t afraid to stand firmly on the side of life and good. I was encouraged and challenged listening to the Chief Justice’s stories of how God brought him into his current position. He also shared about how He has had to listen to God in the courtroom when he was a lawyer, as incantations, fetishes, ceremonies, etc are held in these rooms to call on darkness to get people out of prosecution, etc. By listening intently to what he described as a still small voice, he has been able to prosecute against corruption in the nation in the face of public opposition, etc. Many have believed that he made a pact with the devil, so he has had to explain himself clearly. I was slightly shocked when he told us about his recent message to law students in the nearby law school where he told them that it is impossible to be a good lawyer or judge without full, 100% reliance on God’s divine help! I can’t imagine any of our high court justices coming close to saying something like that.
So what was planned as a quick in and out meeting turned into a 2hr time with some of the most powerful men in the country. I’m humbled by their faith and challenged by their lives. And who are we to be in the same room with them? But buy God’s grace we found ourselves there and only hope our weak words of encouragement and prayers encouraged them. We will continue to pray for their strengthening as they have tangibly made a difference in this nation already.
With the day quickly getting away from us we hurried on for lunch at a friends house and them back to the hotel. The sun was still up and we took our rare opportunity for some time alone. So J and I found our way to the beach. Now keep in mind that the beaches here in The Gambia are nice, but don’t expect a nice romantic, private, stroll by yourselves. I commend The Gambians for their persistence but it was getting a bit tiresome to talk to a safari driver, bar owner and fishing captain every 2-3 minutes. So we came up with a clever, but truthful way of hadling it. “We are here working. Not on holiday and are really tired of talking to people. We just want to walk alone :)”. For the most part it worked and we were able to enjoy a nice sunset on the West African shoreline.
Tomorrow we are off to the bush. We don’t expect to have internet out there. So we will send another update when possible. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.
Much love … More to come …