Faith on Trial: The Kibrom StoryAuthor Jeff Chacon, Written Jun 19, 2011
Prison, torture and death. That’s what awaited the young man from Eritrea, Africa if he wasn’t granted asylum in the United States. But why was he admitting to the Judge that he lied on his initial paperwork? The Judge was confused. Didn’t this man know he was hurting his case? Only people who are caught admit that they’ve lied. Who was this strange young man on trial before him? And who was this strange crowd of people supporting him in the courtroom – a diverse group of young and old, black, brown and white – who kept praying in the hallway after every break of the hearing? “I would rather go back to my home country and face prison, torture and death than sin against Jesus Christ by lying to you.” Kibrom declared. It just didn’t make sense – not even to Kibrom’s own lawyer. The prosecution would eat him alive. And they tried, by using his own words against him. “This man’s admitted he lied! How can anything else he says be trusted?” But the Judge was intrigued. With a 78% denial rate, he knew human nature, and this just didn’t fit. He was determined to get down to the bottom of things. So when the Tampa Bay Church Singles Minister, Wally Olopade, took the stand, the Judge cross-examined the witness himself. The conversation went something like this: “This young man admitted to lying on his initial paperwork. How do you know Kibrom is not lying still?” “Because he became a true Christian.” “How do you know he became a true Christian? He could have lied about that.” “I know because I studied the Bible with him and baptized him.” “How many people have you studied the Bible with?” “About a hundred over the last ten years.” “And how many of them did you baptize?” “Kibrom will be my third.” “You only baptized three people out of a hundred that you studied with?” “Yes, that’s right.” “Why?” “Because in our church we call people to be true disciples of Jesus, and that means repenting of all your sins and making a genuine commitment to follow Jesus for the rest of your life. Many are not willing to make that kind of commitment.” “And Kibrom made that commitment?” “Yes, he did.” More testimony followed. The Judge was thorough. After five and a half grueling hours on hard wooden benches, the Judge gave his verdict, which went something like this: “I have heard both sides of this case. I have read the many letters of recommendation about Kibrom from the members of his church. I see the dedication of these members in attendance today. And I believe them. I especially believe their Pastor, Wally Olopade. If they say Kibrom has sincerely changed, then I believe them. And I am granting this young man asylum in the United States of America, so that he does not have to go back and be persecuted for his Christian faith.” The courtroom erupted with cheers, tears and hugs! The Government Attorney reserved the right to appeal the case. But it didn’t matter. The Judge of all men will preside in that courtroom as well. Faith on trial. It’s usually not this dramatic. But once in a while, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, our faith gets put to the ultimate test – do right and risk prison, torture and death. Kibrom chose to do the right thing, earning him a place among the heroes of faith.