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Integrity Has a Price - Part 3

Jan. 28, 2015By: Jeff AtherstoneAuthor Bio

It's 2 AM and I'm wide awake... usually a good sign that the day didn't go as planned.

Long story short... nothing happened.

The squatters argued that they were not served a notice to appear, which is a bit funny because their lawyer was in court on time and they were all standing outside of the courthouse (so how is it that they didn't know to appear in court - seems fishy to me)... so now the seller of the land has to provide a legal document (insert a technical name that I can't remember here) which states that he really did serve them notice.

Due to this technicality the judge delayed the hearing until April 3.

But here is where the whole issue of integrity comes in. We could have had the whole thinggavel1 taken care of today for just under $1,000 (remember this is a $100,000 land purchase so we are talking less than 1%). All we had to do was pay the judge and our case would have been heard.

I believe this is where the Western influence (or let's get more personal and say missionary influence) has added to the corruption in Uganda.

To a westerner "time is money" so it has become common practice to "pay" (insert "bribe") to speed up service. This happens with missionaries getting work visas at the Ministry of Immigration. It happens for missionaries seeking to register their NGOs (Christian organizations). It happens for missionaries who pay to get out of traffic tickets so they don't have to stand in long lines at the bank to pay the real tickets. It happens with couples who want to speed up their adoptions. The list goes on and on.

I'm not saying that all missionaries do this, but it is also more common than it should be among this crowd.

Our cultural (not biblical)  impatience has created a system that encourages corruption.

Part of me wonders if "being slow" has become the most profitable business practice in the developing world?

So today the squatters took a calculated risk and delayed the process. Now all eyes are back on us, the school with a mizungu (white) director. Will he bribe the court? Or better yet, will he pay us (the squatters) to stop fighting this case in court?

So here is the updated prayer list:

1) Pray that the judge, seller and squatters all show up in court on April 3 with all the legal documents filed correctly 
2) Pray that the judge grants us favor and makes his decision on the evidence
3) Pray that the squatters don't pay to win
4) Pray that the judge acts on his decision in our favor and sends his bailiffs to clear the squatters off the land
5) Pray that the squatters don't retaliate against the school or my family
6) Pray that the testimony of this purchase inspires our staff, students and everyone else involved to seek God's favor rather than paying for man's favor 

Show Comments   |   Leave a Comment  |  Tags:  missions, money, uganda, west, corruption, patience, integrity, arcc

They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Tax Return

Mar. 22, 2012By: Darren CarlsonAuthor Bio

Turbo Tax is a wonderful thing and I have found it very helpful in preparing our tax returns.  It shows me in a crystal clear fashion how much money I have made and the various deductions I can take – in particular, charitable giving.  Last night as I finished and clicked “Send” to e-file, they alerted me that I had a high risk of being audited.  A few thoughts crossed my mind.

Rendering to the US

I don’t like the tax system in the US – it’s very American to think such a thing.  I don’t think it’s fair (but not in the way most people complain about it), but my conscience and Scripture leads me to believe that fudging my tax return is not a good way to protest.  I’m not going to give the government more or less than they want.  I will stay within the parameters of the law.

Jesus once said, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's” (Luke 20:25 ESV).  I'm sure the Roman government was doing plenty of immoral things with the taxes people paid.  For Jesus, that was not the issue.  He did not take a moral stand by not paying taxes, nor should we.  I am sure that last sentence should be nuanced, but let us have Luke 20:25 start the conversation. 

My Integrity is Worth More Than $900

My wife is amazing.  One of things she does on top having four little children is teach private music lessons.  Before children she was an opera singer (for real!), a high school teacher and a college instructor.  Now she teaches the kids of two families.  They are lucky. 

The IRS would never know if I didn’t enter her income.  When I did, our return dropped $900.  For us, that is quite a chunk of change.   Thoughts ran through my mind for a day as I thought about whether to enter her income.  Who cares, I thought, about a few hundred dollars.   They won’t miss it anyway.

Even thinking of it caused turmoil in my soul.  Could I sell out for a few hundred dollars?  Unfortunately, it was tempting, but in the end I trusted Christ and the promises of Scripture and moved on.  It is amazing how doing the right thing is burden lifting.  

Scripture says,  "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold" (Proverbs 22:1 ESV).  May it be true of all of us who name Christ as Savior.  Report all your income to the glory of God.

If I am Audited, I Hope They Can Tell I am a Christian Without Talking To Me

Someone might take a peek at tax return, and I hope they can see how much I value Christ.  I remember first thinking something like this a few years ago when I was trying to buy a home and the mortgage broker was a Christian.  He knew my job, my income and my giving.  Was he challenged and spurred on to a life of generosity or was he appalled by how low my giving was?

I know first hand that there are complicating situations that cause giving to increase and decrease in different seasons of life.  There is also a lot of giving that can’t be recorded as a tax write-off, but I hope the IRS agent sees that I value Christ and serve Him, not money.

Jesus said,  “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money" (Matthew 6:24 ESV).  May it be true of us.

And What of the Return

Many of us are going to have money coming back to us.  What should we do?  Are you asking: Does this count as income that we need to give away?  If so, it's the wrong question.  We should ask: How can I use this to glority God?  It could mean employing a friend to do work or helping a non-profit or church.  It could mean buying a gift for a family member.  It's all His.  

Maybe next year I will get audited as well.


Show Comments   |   Leave a Comment  |  Tags:  integrity, money, economics
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