“It is better to be deceived a thousand times than to live a life of suspicion.” —Spurgeon
Almost four years ago, we packed up everything we could fit in eleven suitcases and moved to Uganda. More specifically, a slum in the heart of Kampala. Our house was a disappointment at first and with our compound wall a bit too low paired with a sleepy night guard, we were robbed twice.
A few years later some men tried to break in while we were home by clipping our lock on our gate, but they ran away when they realized we were home.
Last month my husband’s motorcycle was stolen from in front of the church we planted two years ago. He was inside for a matter of minutes, and thieves broke the lock and took off.
Last week one of our young men was on his way home in the early hours of evening and was robbed by four guys. The same week three of our young men were walking back from community group and were chased by a larger group of men seeking to steal their clothing.
Living overseas brings a whole host of insecurities. Being robbed is one. It is a personal attack on security and can result in anger and helplessness. We have had a hard time with trusting motives and actions of many people since we moved here.
A couple years ago a wise pastor friend of ours came on a trip to visit us. After watching us interact in our neighborhood and listening to Dan preach, he pulled Dan aside one night. He told us we were becoming bitter and jaded. He offered these words of wisdom: “It’s not their ability to take advantage of you, it’s more about your availability.” Such a simple thing opened our eyes.
It’s a weary process. When we put up walls to protect ourselves and walk around with bitter suspicion, we are not spreading the Gospel. Our negative attitudes toward others due to our insecurity hinders our message. We are called to be available even in hard situations. We have to look to Jesus to fight the battle against suspicion and bitterness.
Who knows if the mom who comes to our gate saying she lost the equivalent of $100 and has been chased away by her husband (with a machete) is telling the truth? Who can tell if the iPod that mysteriously disappeared from Dan’s office was taken by someone who worships with us on Sundays? Who knows if those young men watching every time we lock our gate are planning to rob us? We are called to be here and to serve and love like Jesus even when we are taken advantage of, robbed, and slandered.
In the end of it all, we answer to Jesus. Are we going to say, “I was going to tell people about the Gospel, but they stole from me and lied to me, so I decided they weren’t worthy of the message”? For now we live in one of the worst districts in Kampala that is known for its thieves, thugs, and prostitutes. But with a lot of grace and the beauty of God’s salvation, maybe one day it will be known for its love of Jesus. And we get to be a part of that with open vulnerable hearts that belong to God. That is all the security we need.