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My fine is paid

19 April 2022

My fine is paid

Buying a ticket to help someone out is not so easy on Bulgarian trams.

An incident on a Bulgarian tram reflects the Easter message.

Words Kathleen Johansson

Captain Kathleen Johannson is an Australian Salvos officer (pastor) working with a team pioneering the work of The Salvation Army in Sofia, the capital of Bulgaria in Eastern Europe. This work now includes emergency aid and support to refugees fleeing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As Easter approaches, a recent incident on a local tram prompted her to think about the sacrificial and grace-filled love of God. 

A few days ago, helped a young woman on a tram because the tram guards were giving her a fine for not having the correct ticket. She clearly didn’t understand Bulgarian or English and was becoming more physically distressed by the second. 

I stepped in and tried to say in my broken Bulgarian, “will pay for her.” 

“Do you know this woman?” one of the guards questioned me in English. 

“No,” replied, “but want to pay the fine for her.” 

Clearly confused by my actions, the guard initially refused to let me pay the fine, which was 30 leva (about $AUD24). Eventually, after a lot of hassle – including telephone calls and attempts to use Google Translate – they found a way and allowed me to pay the fine. This scared young woman was eventually able to get to where she needed to go – a mosque. 

assume that Igave that tram guard something to talk about over the dinner table that night. But more importantly, his words “Do you know this woman?” kept ringing in my ears. 


Jesus was ready to take my mistakes, mess, and shame and pay the price for it on my behalf. And then God the Father said, “Do you know this woman?” 

And Jesus said, “Yes, know everything about her, and Istill want to pay on her behalf.” 

If someone like me, a timid and newly-arrived foreigner, was willing to intervene in a frightening situation and help a young woman who Idid not know, then how much more is your Father in Heaven, through his son Jesus, willing to pay the price for the mistakes you’ve made, to clear your slate, and to pay the fine on your behalf?

He knows you, and he still wants to pay the fine. No matter what. 


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