Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’
~ Acts 27:23-24 (NIV)
We’ve been learning personal lessons from prison from Pastor Okuk Ojulu in Ethiopia as he shared them with Jim Cunningham.
He says, “The third lesson I learned is that imprisonment is for ministry to people in need. The thirty-six people who were imprisoned with me from Gambella in the Addis Ababa prison–777 kilometers (483 miles) away from our families–had no strong faith in the Lord.
“I began to realize that the Lord put me there to minister to these people, to feed them with the Word of God in the prison. I ended up baptizing some of them in the prison although I was not an officially recognized pastor, for no pastor was allowed to do this work in the prison.”
I am always amazed at the positive lessons from reading prison memoirs of followers of Jesus. And so many times they come to this similar conclusion. They were there to serve others.
Mama Kwang of Project Pearl in China is a wonderful example. Carl Lawrence tells her story in his award-winning book, The Church in China:
As she sat quietly in prison singing a hymn, the Lord gave her a message: “This is to be your ministry.”
“But,” she objected, “I am all alone. Whom can I minister to?” She continued to pray that her ministry would be fulfilled. Suddenly an idea came to her. She stood up and called for the guard.
“Sir, can I do some hard labor for you?” The guard looked at her with contempt, mingled with surprise. No one had ever made that kind of request before. “Look!” she exclaimed, “this prison is so dirty, there is human waste everywhere. Let me go into the cells and clean up this filthy place. All you have to do is give me some water and a brush.”
Not to her surprise, she soon found herself on her hands and knees cleaning and preaching. She was looking into the faces of people no longer recognizable as human beings. Through continuous torture, they had lost all hope of ever seeing another human being who did not come to beat them.
Oh, when they realized that they could have eternal life, they would get so excited. They would fall down on the dirty floor and repent of their sins, and do you know that very soon all the prisoners believed in Jesus Christ.”
RESPONSE: Today I acknowledge that God can enable me to minister anywhere for Him—even prison.
PRAYER: Thank You Lord that even in a filthy prison dungeon you give ministry opportunities.
1. Carl Lawrence, The Church in China (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 1985), p.149.