Crossing the (Double Yellow) Line


As I tooled along in my car, I knew today would be an easy day. All I had to do was drive another 30 minutes and surprise Aaron, a Peruvian musician recording in Cayambe, Ecuador. It was his birthday, and I wanted to take him and the two other guys in the band out to eat because they were so far from home.

There was a gas truck going so slow up the hill that three cars in front of me passed it on the corner. I followed suit. When I came to the corner and crossed in front of the gas truck, I noticed that the dotted yellow line was now a double yellow line (“No Passing Allowed”). I quickly slowed down just as I heard a car horn. The driver was very angry. I pulled over so he could pass me, but he was dressed in a colonel’s uniform and motioned for me to follow him.

The colonel led me to the police station, where he made it clear that the officers were to put me in jail for what I did. In Ecuador, the penalty for passing on a double yellow line is a minimum of 30 days in custody. The colonel threatened to throw the two policemen behind bars if they did not arrest me. He copied my license information and said, “I will check tonight to see if you put this man in jail.”

I quickly called and text messaged all my friends. The ones whom I was meeting for lunch thought I was joking with them as part of their friend’s birthday surprise. I finally convinced them to come and take my car to a safe place.

People from all over the country started calling me, some trying to help and others saying they knew someone who could help. Some just wanted to visit me and keep me company.

Brown & inmateThe jail was filled with about 60 people in one big room with 30 bunk beds. I quickly paid the $20 fee for a bed as I saw that they were filling up fast. I was able to get to know others who were there, most of them for drinking and driving or driving without a license. I played cards with the guys and spent a lot of time reading, writing and praying.

My devotions that day were on Romans 12. I sat on my bunk and read it with different eyes. My situation had brought new meaning to the text. “Don’t think of yourself more highly than you ought . . .” (v. 3) and many other verses stuck out in my mind. The chapter teaches us that we are the Body of Christ with different gifts. I decided right away to sacrifice things in jail. Every meal I got, I made sure I shared half of it with someone else (food is not provided in jail in Ecuador; you have to find family or friends to bring it to you).

Miracles happened as the lawyers worked to get me out. They knew that my wife and son were in Canada visiting her parents, and I was supposed to be taking care of my other three kids. Thanks to Heather Martin, our intern, they were in good hands.

On the way to the hearing, the policeman who had to accompany us said, “That same colonel put me in jail for sitting down for five minutes on the job. I had been standing for seven hours straight.”

I said, “You know what? God—not the colonel—put me in jail.” I had learned that the Lord was doing something in me and the men with whom I shared a cell.

God worked another miracle as the secretary who took down my information said, “I am also evangelical. I go to the Alliance church in the valley.”

I said, “Really? My parents helped start its mother church.” We started talking about all of the pastors we knew. After she heard my story, she said, “You will be back with your kids tonight.”

“I hope so.”

“You will,” she replied. “The man in there who has to sign all the papers also attends the Alliance church in the valley.”

My lawyer’s mouth dropped open. He is not a Christian, but he said, “Even with all of my contacts to try to get you out, you were supposed to serve 15 more working days. But who would have thought that God would help us out today?”

I was in jail just three days. I got home and had a party at our house. Two women who were out on bail from the women’s prison in Quito were baptized in our apartment complex. We celebrated together, but I didn’t say a word about my three days in jail; these women had been in prison for years.

Since my brief incarceration, Inca Link Ecuador and Soul Light Link, organizations that work closely with The Alliance, are making plans to find jobs for people in prison in Ecuador. This will give the inmates an opportunity to work and live a more dignified life. One youth leader said, “I have several machines to make clothes. I will donate them for this ministry.”

Other ministries among prisoners have been fruitful. A local leader said, “Our church is going into the men’s jail every Thursday night to do a Bible study.” Another one said, “My dad just taught leadership training in the women’s jail.”

Crossing the double yellow line changed my life forever. It was not the colonel who did it—it was God. Now, I expect to be more involved in jail ministry, finding ways to help those who are where I was.

And I don’t plan on passing on the double yellow line anymore.

Goin’ South

Inca Link (www.incalink.org) is a ministry that connects North Americans with South Americans to work in compassion and construction projects. The main goal of Inca Link is to reach as many of the 300 million youth in Latin America as possible with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Inca Link identifies, connects, facilitates and mentors high-capacity youth leaders to multiply their impact in Latin America. This is done through several ministries.

Short-term missions exposes youth, adults and families to missions, compassionate ministries and the world. Internships give college-age students and older North Americans and South Americans the opportunity to try out missions and ministry, as well as lead short-term missions experiences.

Inca Link’s compassionate ministries are growing. Inca Link Peru has a day care center in Trujillo next to the garbage dump. Staff members offer a safe, fun and educational environment for children while their parents work in the dump. For more information and opportunities to become involved, visit www.incalinkchild.org. An orphanage and camp ground is being built by Inca Link Peru with short-term missions teams as well. Get involved!

Inca Link Ecuador provides women just released from prison with a sewing job. The leaders also have a dream to work with a teen pregnancy center (Ecuador has the second highest incidence of teen pregnancy in Latin America).

Corban (www.corbandweb.com) is a Christian band of Peruvians in which Lisa Brown participates. A three-month U. S. tour—from July 1 through September 2009—will raise missions awareness. There will also be a two-month tour in Canada on the heels of the U.S. tour.

—Rich and Lisa Brown

Past Alliance Life Issues


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