The state charged him with a very serious offence in Sahel Province of West Africa; murder to be specific. It was what lawyers referred to as culpable homicide punishable with death.
Since the trial began, the prosecution counsel had observed that this middle-aged man in the dock radiated an inner peace, strength, and courage; something so uncommon with most capital offenders. While in court, his lips were always moving in a silent prayer like Hannah. More often than not, he seemed to be genuinely pleased about something no one within the courtroom could comprehend. Many people in the courtroom imagined that the accused man did not understand the gravity of the charges levelled against him. Others suspected that he was another deranged religious bigot. Even some of his church members had abandoned him. Only a few stuck by their belief in his innocence.
The trial continued into the first month, second month, third, fourth, a year, the second year. Witnesses were called, witnesses were cross examined. The prosecution team closed its case with overwhelming evidence placed before the court, a blatant hurl of stones to prove that the so called “evangelist” had probably raped and murdered the thirteen-year-old girl that had passed the night at his abode. The prosecution relied on strong circumstantial evidence that indicated that witnesses had last seen the thirteen-year old girl with him, for the police had not found her body, and there had been traces of human blood drops seen in his apartment on the morning of the evangelist’s arrest. The defence team sought to rely on evidence that the evangelist was a peaceful character and that it was very unlikely that he could have been responsible for the death of the minor. The trial eventually wound up after twenty months, and the court set a date when it would deliver its judgment. Everyone that had keenly followed the trial was certain that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt.
However, on the date adjourned for delivery of the judgment, something spectacular and seemingly like a scene out of blockbuster movie occurred in the courtroom. The lead prosecution counsel announced to the amazement of the court that the prosecution had decided to withdraw all the charges levelled against the evangelist because the Ministry of Justice had received information from the police that the missing thirteen-year old girl had been found alive and hearty, in another neighbouring province on the fringes of the Sahara. A journalist had innocently taken a picture of the now fourteen-year old girl, selling locally made yoghurt in the streets of the neighbouring province. One of the police officers involved in the investigation of the evangelist had stumbled upon the newspaper where the girl’s picture had been published and had alerted the police authorities who decided to investigate further whether the murdered girl was indeed alive. When the lead prosecution counsel had finished announcing his withdrawal of the charges against the evangelist, another forlorn figure suddenly jumped out of the gallery and stood before the judge with hands raised in supplication. His eyes were bloodshot, and he looked visibly shaken.
“Jesus is Lord!” the intruder in long robes proclaimed. There was nothing in his appearance that indicated that he shared the same faith with the accused person, who also watched him with an enquiring gaze from the dock.
“Order in the court!” the court clerk dutifully barked, as all eyes were on this strange man who was sobbing.
The man in the long robes began to confess to the judge. He stated that the accused man in the dock had been leading a team of Christian missionaries to preach in his town. During these regular crusades, the confessor has lost one of his wives and two brothers to the Christian faith. The conversion of his family members to Christianity and prompted him to join a clandestine group within the town that was bent on destroying the accused person. The teenage girl had been employed by the group to set up the evangelist and after that, she had been smuggled out of the town to the neighbouring province, after he had planted false evidence within the evangelist abode, and the police had been invited to investigate him. However, within the twenty months of the ongoing trial, the confessor had had psychic encounters with a man with pierced hands and feet, who kept following him and asking him why he was persecuting him. The confessor had lost two wives and four children to a ghastly motor accident, and his only surviving wife was the one he had driven away from home after she had become a Christian. One of his lead accomplices in the clandestine group that were set up to oppose the growth of the church in the town had shared similar experiences of being harassed by a demon before he developed mental problems and ended up in a psychiatric hospital. The teenage girl was said to be dead had also been experiencing a scenario where an angel-like being often stared accusingly at her. The confessor confessed that the evangelist in the dock was an innocent man who was framed up by his group.
It was a free voluntary confession; direct, positive, duly made and satisfactorily proved.
The accused man in the dock did not look surprised. He seemed to be sure that there was a way out of the situation he had been in these past twenty months. The judge remained pensive for a few minutes before he scribbled a few things into his large notebook. The judge adjourned delivery of the judgment to the following day when the judge set the accused man free. He was discharged and acquitted of all the charges levelled against him. The police charged the confessor to court for providing false information and misleading the police.
A year after the malicious prosecution, the evangelist who had never been a father in fifteen years of marriage became the proud father of triplets. God blessed his ministry with signs and miracles, and he won thousands of souls in the very town that had almost consumed him.
Today, when he preaches on James 1:2 and I Corinthians 10:13, he can recount his personal trials and ordeal with joy.