Monday, October 26, 2009

A little inspiration...

This is a story of a man we met when we were working with Sister Pierce in Södertälje. I have met Charles...have gotten to know him, and know that the Lord is aware of all of us, and really does reveal what we need to continue in our journey back to him.

Here's his story:

Charles is a convert of about a year who is from Gambia (a country in West Africa). Charles was a main general for the army there during the war a few years ago, and he worked directly with the President of the Country. Through some happenings at the time that I would call "secret combinations" Charles was decieved and ended up being charged with treason. He fled from the country with his daughter, and they came to Sweden. While he was here in Sweden, he met the missionaries, who taught him and helped him make many changes in his life. He was baptized and he met with the bishop every week thereafter to continue to work through things.

You see, Charles has been through many things in his life. Things that as he explained them to me, left me in awe that anyone could have such a hard life. There are many experiences that he has had that continue to haunt him today. After some time, Charles recieved a phone call from his mother in Gambia who told him that he needed to come back to the country and to sign some papers or their family would be "picked up." Charles had no idea what to do because he knew that in going back, he would be killed, but he didn't want his family to be in danger. He counseled with the bishop for quite some time and they came up with plans of how they were going to get Charles and Meri safely back to Sweden.

First off, Charles said he needed to take a gun back with him-he's been in the army, he knew how things were done and thought he would surely need it. The bishop told him that he felt so strongly that Charles shouldn't take a gun back with him and not trusting Charles, the Bishop made him stay in his house the day before he left, took him to the airport himself to make sure. The bishop also role played with Charles about what he would say if the President asked him specific questions. Charles has a bit of a temper, so he helped him come up with answers so he would be prepared and not fly off the handle. Also, the night before he left, the bishop felt very strongly that he needed to give Charles the Aaronic Priesthood, so he did, and then he printed out a line of authority for him to put in his wallet.

Okay, so Charles and his daughter were on their way home-Charles explained it as the longest flight of his life, and being in the army, he knew there would be soldiers there waiting for him when he got off the plane. He didn't trust in the bishop and the Lord and he doubted that anything would work out. As they arrived in the country, there were no officials to take him away. He walked past numerous checkpoints and to his total disbelief he made it to his home without anyone taking him away. No sooner had he and his daughter hugged the rest of his family, and sat down, there was a knock at their door. They had come for Charles. At least his daughter was safe in the hands of his parents. Then they took him away.

So Charles was "picked up" and put in a cell for a few days. They then took Charles and brought him to the President, who began to ask Charles a bunch of questions, all of which he was prepared to answer. Charles knew the President and he knew that he was a crazy guy-calm one minute and flying off the handle the next, so he had to do everything so carefully. The Bishop preparing Charles was absolutely inspired-He knew how to react calmly and say the things he needed to. He knew exactly how to answer each question and by the end, the President offered Charles his old position back. Charles did not want his job back. He had left his life behind him and didn't want to be that kind of person again, so he told the President that he couldn't take his job back because he was now a Priest in his church. The President didn't believe his explanation, so he took out his line of Priesthood which had been given him the night before he left by the bishop. Somehow, So, they brought some papers in front of Charles and gave him his release. Through all this Charles was completely stunned. They let him go and he and his daughter made it back to Sweden in safety. The journey back to Africa was an absolute miracle. What an inspired bishop, who gave Chales all of the tools he needed to accomplish this and what great faith Charles had in following the counsel of the bishop!