ADVANCING THE GOSPEL
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel.
~ Philippians 1:12 (NIV)
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 actually advanced it. Then he states in the following verses that 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!
A Vietnamese brother, we’ll call Daniel, was led by the Lord to the minister in the north where he soon found himself in the midst of a revival. The inevitable soon happened and Daniel was sent to prison, his “training school,” for three years. He shares his experience in prison:
After my arrest I was put in solitary confinement and chained to the ground for six months. This was a very hard time for me. The cell was only 2 x 3 meters, there were no lights in the cell and I only had one bowl of rice and salt a day. A piece of bamboo was stuck between my crossed legs and chained to the ground. My hands were chained to the ground behind my back and whenever I had to go to the toilet I was offered only a plastic bag.
I felt totally deserted. I asked the Lord to take my life. It was too much for me. I prayed a lot but thankfully the Lord did not do what I asked.
One night in my prison cell, chained to the ground, I saw a vision of the Lord. He did not speak a word. He just placed his hand on me and I felt how new strength filled my body. I cried and repented before the Lord. Then I knew the Lord was saying to me that He would not allow me to leave this world defeated, that when He takes me “home” it would be victoriously. The next day the police came and took me to another cell but I could not walk. After one year I could walk again.
Today I can see why God allowed this difficult time. After three years in prison there is a church in every area where I spent time and more than 200 inmates came to know the Lord. Three other prisoners who came to know the Lord also started churches in prison.
When I was released, I found that my village church had grown to 500. I know that God has a good plan. He sent me to prison to preach the gospel and so that I may become a strong warrior for Him.
RESPONSE: Today I will pray differently for brothers and sisters in prison for their faith.
PRAYER: Help me Lord to always trust Your plan – even when it seems difficult and overwhelming.