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In Uganda, if you steal something, you risk getting beaten, even killed. While the Van Warts entertained guests and visited the market, Matthew Van Wart and his friends left the women to continue shopping. When Matthew approached his car, he noticed the car door open.

A man hopped out, closed the door, and started to walk away.

“I realized we were being robbed, and I started to chase the guy. We took off running—or I should say he took off running, and I lumbered briskly after him. We rushed around a corner, and he found himself cornered with a fence ahead and to his right, two motorcycle taxis (bodas) to his left, and me huffing and puffing up the rear.” Matthew grabbed his wrist, took his small bag, and opened it to find a pair of Matthew’s sunglasses.

The thief struggled and looked at Matthew wide-eyed, “You have to save me.”

Matthew turned and saw a crowd of people coming toward them. He tried to explain to the crowd that the thief was his responsibility and that he would take the man to the police. A mob began to form, hitting the thief despite Matthew’s attempts to protect him. A woman in a car saw the situation and opened the car door, urging them to get in. Matthew pulled the thief in, and the woman shut the door. She tried to drive away, but the crowd pressed around the car, making escape almost impossible.

“Don’t let them get me. They will kill me!” The thief cried out.

Matthew assured him of his safety. “I preached one of the fastest sermons in history, complete with an invitation. I told him he needed to turn from his foolish ways and follow Jesus.”

The woman started the car, moving through the crowd, and finally drove them back to Matthew’s car. Matthew took the thief out of her car and locked him in his car while asking his visitors to call Elizabeth. After Elizabeth arrived, she called their good friend, who quickly came and sent for the police. Matthew and their good friend attempted to calm the mob down. The police soon arrived and arrested the thief, taking him to jail. What felt like 3 hours was 45 minutes.

Matthew and his friends went to the police station and made their statements. “The thief also made his confession. As they took him away and we were leaving, I read him the riot act one more time, telling him that he could have easily died, that he needed to start his life over and follow Jesus.”

A week later, the police asked Matthew to return to the station. The thief hadn’t stopped preaching or sharing his testimony since his arrival in jail. The man was released on probation and has been following up with a Ugandan pastor – a friend of Matthew.

“He has professed faith in Christ and is being discipled—praise the Lord! Please keep praying for him as he is just beginning his spiritual journey.” The mob couldn’t understand why the Van Warts would save a thief’s life. Pray for Ugandans to understand forgiveness and how Jesus paid it all.

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