During the Covid-19 pandemic, many of us experienced a little of what it is like to be confined. But for some persecuted Christians, their ‘lockdown’ is much more severe and long-lasting. So how do you cope if you are labelled as an enemy of the government and thrown in jail? How do you live out your faith in solitary confinement, where it’s just you and God?
Mojtaba from Iran faced that challenge. Arrested for leading a secret house church, he was incarcerated in the notorious Evin Prison for over three years. In the darkness of his prison cell, God was present and at work, but Mojtaba didn’t see it that way at first.
“I had this feeling that, if I am in prison now, it’s about my sin, it’s about my faults, it’s about what I did bad and God is punishing me. One day, God spoke to me and I felt it strongly: ‘Mojtaba, stop being selfish. If you are in prison now, it’s not about you, it’s about me. Look around yourself.’
“And I looked around myself. And I saw people, poor people. Many people that had bad crimes, many bad experiences in their lives. I saw the doors, the huge gates of the prison and the big locks on the doors and how secure it is. No one can enter the prison and start to evangelise.
“But it was an inner voice that said, ‘Look, I took you through these doors and gates here to evangelise people, to talk to people about Jesus.’”
“It doesn’t matter what situation I’m in, I can work in God’s kingdom wherever God places me.”Mojtaba
Mojtaba saw the incredible opportunity God had placed before him. He began talking about his faith with other prisoners. Some of them accepted Jesus.
The next difficulty was getting a Bible. How could anyone bring one into the prison? But God had the most unusual solution…
A kindly imam came to the prison every day, so Mojtaba asked him for a Bible. Bringing in a whole Bible was too dangerous, but he brought in portions of the Bible in English. With the help of a friend, Mojtaba translated them, and shared them with other prisoners. Through these smuggled snippets of Scripture, more and more prisoners gave their lives to Jesus.
“I never prayed for God to release me from prison,” Mojtaba says. “It doesn’t matter what situation I’m in, I can work in God’s kingdom wherever God places me. It doesn’t matter if it is in prison or out of prison. Because persecution will take the gospel to the places where nothing else can do it.”
Lord Jesus, thank You that You are present with and working in our persecuted brothers and sisters, even as they sit in prisons around the world. Strengthen and uphold them where they are, and empower them to be Your hands and feet to others.
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