Philippians 1:12-14 — Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
The Apostle Paul writes these words from prison, but he assures his readers that prison in no way hindered the spread of the gospel; but has actually advanced it. He is chains only because of Christ, and because of his imprisonment, others have become bolder and fearless in sharing their faith. And the gospel advances!
In September of 2004, three middle-aged Indonesian Christian women were sentenced to three years in Indramayu prison, West Java. Dr. Rebekka, Ratna Bangun and Eti Pangesti were falsely accused of converting Muslim children to Christianity through their program called ‘Happy Sunday.’
There were four hundred men and twelve women in the prison. Rebekka, Eti and Ratna were the only Christian women. The other women were Muslims. Before the Christian women arrived in the prison, there was much unrest. But soon after they arrived, the prisoners got along together as friends. The three ladies were a great testimony to the women prisoners and also to the guards.
While in the prison, Dr. Rebecca said, “The most important thing for us to do daily is to become the living testimony of Christ’s love among all the prisoners and to share the Word of God, even though we have to do it secretly. Only in His time will we be free from this prison, and when that day comes, we will have been purified as gold through this baptism of fire.
Ratna commented, “I sometimes feel that if I was outside this prison, I might be able to do many things for Christ. But then I realize how thankful I am to be here because we are able to share our lives with other prisoners. They are criminals, and they never heard the good news about Jesus and His unconditional love. God shows me that this is our opportunity to share the love of God.
Eti concluded, “I want my days here to become days with Jesus through my personal devotion, prayer and reading the Word of God. I want to serve Him in this prison because around us there are many souls trying to find the truth. I love to share the truth with other prisoners because it is easy to share with them about a God who loves them. They are looking for the answer for their troubled life. And the only answer lies in the truth of God’s love.
“Being in the prison is not our plan. I believe it is God’s will we are here, and the Holy Spirit helps us, encourages us and comforts us. The Holy Spirit leads us and God gives us strength to minister to the other prisoners. I believe many people in this prison will open their hearts to Jesus and many souls will be won for God’s glory.”
And that’s exactly what happened. The three women even led worship services inside the prison. After three years, they were released and the other prisoners wept as they left. God even uses imprisonment to advance His kingdom.
–Posted by: http://www.opendoorsusa.org
Rebekka, Eti and Ratna
II Corinthians 1:3-7 — Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.
Help me, O Lord, to make a true use of all disappointments and calamities in this life, in such a way that they may unite my heart more closely with you. Cause them to separate my affections from worldly things and inspire my soul with more vigor in the pursuit of true happiness. Amen.
–Susanna Wesley (1669-1742), mother of John and Charles Wesley and 17 other children