Thursday, October 25, 2012

Brian and I just returned from a week in the Dominican Republic.  I hope to do my best to share what happened and why I felt this was important to share with you.  Remember, some things I share at times comes from a third party and also translated from Spanish to English so forgive me if it is not 100% correct. 
This week was a baseball clinic.  MGM hosted 130 Dominican baseball coaches to come to learn more about coaching and also be challenged spiritually.  We were preparing for the men to come.  Freddy (our our Dominican son) went to town to run an errand.  He didn’t come back for awhile then reports starting coming in that Freddy was picked up by the police.  We weren’t sure what was going on.  After a few hours  we were told that he indeed was in jail and that he was accused of rape.  All of us knew this was a big misunderstanding because Freddy wouldn’t hurt a fly.  After some asking around we were told that the girl identified Freddy as her attacker and that she had witnesses.  As it turned out, the time she was attacked, Freddy was not even in town but with some American baseball coaches preparing for the clinic.  Not only did Freddy have a solid alibi, the girl said she scratched up her attacker.  The judge asked to see Freddy’s stomach and hands were she said she made contact, and there were no marks anywhere.  We figured he’d be released but to our shock, Freddy was still placed in jail.  He was to stay there until a court date.  If after the court date they found reason to go to trial, he’d be transferred to a worse prison in another town.  He could be there for over 3 months before a trial date would be set. 
I need to explain about jail in the Dominican Republic.  From what I’ve been told (haven’t seen it myself) the men are placed in one room.  It has no toilet so the men go in the cell room where they stay.  They do not get food.  Friends or family must bring meals in. The guards check it, then the prisoner is brought out to a waiting area (if you pay off the guard) and the prisoner gets to eat.  These are severe conditions just based on disease alone but then the men can be beaten or worse.  It is a dangerous place to be especially with an accusation like this.   
As time went on, we were told that the girl who filed the charges was put up to it by her uncle.  This is where the story gets cloudy so I won’t elaborate too much because it isn’t that important anyway.  What is important is that she knew it wasn’t Freddy but for 4 days didn’t go to the police and tell the truth.  One of the baseball guys told her that he would not pay her or her uncle off.  He told her she needed to clear Freddy’s name.  That his integrity was important and that if she told the truth and then needed help, she would receive help.
Meanwhile, in the jailhouse, a miracle was going on.  Freddy began sharing Jesus with the other prisoners, police, and random guests who came in to bring food to their loved ones.  Bibles were given to all the prisoners and police.  In spite of all the surroundings and allegations surrounding Freddy, he was allowing his circumstance to bring glory to God.  When I would come in for a visit, we’d do our best to hide the tears and love the people who were around us.  It was powerful.  I hated that  Freddy was in such a terrible place but so amazed at his faith. 
  The town was buzzing about what was going on.  The way the people were rallying around Freddy overwhelmed him.  We saw the body of Christ in action.  The cooks would make special plates just for Freddy. The other boys Freddy works with at the center were taking time to pray for him.  It was beautiful to see how people were showing love to him.  It made the verse in the Bible come alive “people will know we are Christians by the way we love each other.”  People were noticing how we handled this crazy week. 
The day came for Brian and I to get on our plane home.  My heart was torn, I couldn’t wait to get home to Jamie and Elliott but leaving Freddy in jail was awful.  The time we boarded the plane, Freddy had his court date to see if this would indeed go to trial.  When Brian and I landed in Atlanta I powered up my phone and saw the wonderful message that Freddy was FREE! 
Not only was he free, I found out later that night that after the girl finally told the truth, Freddy told her and the court that he would not press charges against her.  He turned to her and thanked her.  He told her that God had a blessing in store and that was far better.  Can you believe that? No vengeance, but forgiveness and mercy.  What a sweet response. 
It’s been a few days now and Freddy is still posting about the way God is opening doors for him to share more and more.  I am humbled by this young 19 year old man of God.   He is a modern day Joseph.  “What man intended for harm, God intended for good.”
 Thank you Jesus for hearing our prayers, for upholding the righteous, for protecting, for allowing Freddy to experience your peace, purpose, and plan for his life.  I am overwhelmed!