Recently one of our dear friends in the Persian Speaking World shared part of his testimony:
When I was sent to prison, I questioned God. The prison was built for 800 inmates but currently holds around 3,000 with crimes ranging from severe spousal abuse, theft, anti-government activities to murder. Most of the prisoners were large men with tattoos covering much of their body. Even though I am tall, I felt vulnerable and weak in comparison to them. The cells were small, they were only meant to hold four prisoners, but they usually held twelve. It was hard to find a place to sleep. The cells smelled like a toilet and the language coming from the inmates wasn’t much better.
All this caused me to cry out to God, “Why do I have to be here? Why do I have to smell these terrible odors and hear this terrible language?”
When I walked in the yard to get some fresh air, I saw prisoners whose faces were filled with hatred; it made me think they wanted to kill me.
I asked myself, “What have I done to deserve such treatment? Why do I have to be here?”
I said to God:
“You called me by name. You called me to become a house church leader. I was ordained to baptize believers and share communion with them. You have trained me well to be what you want me to be. By sharing your Word, I was able to strengthen the faith in Jesus of many people. With the power of your Word, I was able to encourage couples not to get divorced. I was your tool to help people to walk in the light. But now…? Is imprisonment your reward? This is a dreadful place filled with people who curse me, who are evil and condemned to die.”
During this time, I was in such turmoil with pressure and pain that I didn’t allow myself to notice that God was using me in prison. It was when I was released from jail and called back sometime later to sign papers, that I heard God’s answer.
After signing papers, I was able to go into the yard to say goodbye to some of the inmates and guards who had been polite to me. There was also a huge inmate who approached me. He wondered if I had been freed. He still had 70 years to serve before he could be released. He had committed some terrible murders.
He said to me, “When you left the prison, the light also departed.”
I wondered what he meant so he explained. “The way you talked and kept your mouth clean, the way you encouraged people, the way you tried to bring peace between people…brought light into our lives. I am sad you were released because we have no one else to talk with about how to live our lives.”
That conversation helped me understand the reason for my imprisonment. It was not because I was part of a house church and considered to be against the government. I was in prison, so I could share the Gospel with some of these people. By being one of them was the only way they could hear the Good News about Jesus.
I want to thank Persian Ministry for helping me to be mature enough in the Word of God, to understand God’s will, to learn from the Bible what I can teach to others, including those condemned to the death penalty.