Sorry I was AWOL yesterday. Things have been busy here (when isn't it?) and I have been sick. Seems one of you visited this here blog without washing your hands and passed along a very painful stomach virus.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Anyhoona, to get on the with praising of God:
Michael Radebaugh has been set free!!
Some of you may not know the whole story behind why this is amazing, so let me catch you up ok? It's something that happens all over the world to those trying to serve the Lord in a areas where people who don't have much learn to make a shaky justice system work to their advantage. The details are different with each case, the names are different, but the motives are the same: personal gain at someone else's suffering.
Here's what happened:
Last November (Thanksgiving Day to be exact) we all gathered for dinner at Bro. Chris Radebaugh's house. We had a great time, though it was raining heavily after dinner. We all went to Bible Club together, since that was our normal routine, though I must admit I was a little disappointed to have to go out into the weather.
Michael and his ministry partner Donovan pick up and drop off kids for Bible Club every week. They go into neighborhoods where there aren't many (if any!) white people, and pick up kids to bring them to church. Michael was alone that Thanksgiving, and picked up kids as usual. When Bible Club was over and it was time to drop off, he was alone as well. His tendency was to drop off the kids of one street all together, not take individual kids anywhere, and not take anyone to any place except the corner of their street with their friends.
A few (days?) later he was working at the church when the police showed up. They said they only wanted to take him to the station to question him about an incident with a girl from Bible Club last Thursday. He was not sure what was going on, and went with the officers. They put him in jail that day and he was not to be released on bail until June.
The details are a little sketchy since the girl's story changed a lot, but this is what I know:
1. He was accused of raping a child. In a shack. In the mud. In a neighborhood where he was (probably) the only white guy people ever saw and knew he was a Pastor. (He was also well liked.) And he came back to the church at his normal time, clean as a whistle.
2. The mandatory judgment if found guilty is an automatic life sentence.
3. The day he was arrested he would have been set free had he paid a bribe to the police.
4. No investigation by police was done, neither were proper report forms filled out, etc. No one expected him to follow through with going to jail; they expected to be paid.
5. In court the girl's testimony changed so many times the judge was frustrated and angry.
6. His trial was delayed and postponed no less than five times if I count right. Once during
important testimony, the court equipment failure was responsible for the postponement.
7. In February he should have been cleared by DNA evidence, but his lawyer did NOTHING to protect him and didn't even bring it up when they were in court. (Needless to say he was fired.)
8. Michael was in a cell with TOO MANY other men, some who had to sleep sitting up because of the cramped space. At night he could hear cockroaches or rats trying to get into the small food box they kept in the room to hold food people brought them from the outside. That lasted for seven months before he was released on bail thanks to his new lawyer.
9. Michael had to check in at the police station twice a week during his release and was not allowed to have access to his passport.
10. In the final court appointment, the girl testified that the police told her who to point to during the original lineup. And she called him Mike, which no one ever does.
11. Michael was exonerated January 26, 2009. About one year and a month after his first arrest.
12. Our God is a God of miracles Who knows the truth, and who will fight on our behalf, though we may not see all He is doing.
13. At least one Deaf man was saved through the contact we were able to make in the prison because of Michael's arrest. Countless others were encouraged as he preached and shared the Word of God.
Here in South Africa, the "justice" system is corrupt. There are many men in jail who never committed a crime other than making their wives or girlfriends angry. A favorite thing to do is to call the police and have a man arrested for rape or some other violent crime for revenge. Here the burden of proof lies on the innocent. You are guilty until proven innocent.
This whole experience is a testimony of God's amazing grace and love, and the power of prayer. So many of you have shared with us how you've prayed for him from the beginning of all this, and we thank you. All of us here in South Africa have been affected by it. It has changed the way we work with the people in our ministries, being more careful than ever before. You never know what can happen.
It has also taught us that even through the most fiery trials in our lives, God is there with us. He holds us up and encourages us with His Word and with His people. He knows the truth, and if we walk in righteousness and faith, no matter how the odds are stacked against us, we will see Him work miracles.
I know I have.