JESUS IS WORTH IT ALL
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
In Eritrea today, thousands of Christians are imprisoned for their faith without formal charges. Recently three prisoners who had escaped the prison setting were interviewed in safety. Their interpreter said, “They have really suffered. They did nothing wrong. But just for their faith, they have spent years in prison. They were locked up in containers, tied up in the helicopter position, denied food. Why? Because they worship Christ. Because they say they are born-again. Because it is wrong to be evangelical Christians.”
The three men, Peter, Paul, and John met in prison after being arrested for their Christian activity involvement. They worked hard. They farmed, mined, did building work on government projects—always in the sun. No shade or rest in very high degree heat.
They say, “The prisons are very dirty. There is no washing, no cleaning. And the food is very little—just bread many times, sometimes even no food. This makes many prisoners sick. They did not allow us to see a doctor. Many people died. It is very sad. Also, they beat us very much, for no reason. Some had broken hands, legs, even chest bones and most of the time no doctor to attend to our injuries. Some died from their injuries. We think some also died because they lost hope. Their hearts just gave up! We saw some die like this.”
They were repeatedly asked to deny their faith and sign an official document. One said, “The police threatened to arrest our other family members also if we refused to recant and sign the document. But we refused because we do not want to leave Jesus and become Marxist.”
They say they encouraged each other not to give up. Finally, one evening they broke out of the line and jumped over the fence surrounding the prison. One said, “The fence was made up of plants with big thorns. We jumped over them and ran. When the prison guards started shooting, we went in different directions. We heard bullets flying over our heads but none hit us.”
The Lord proved faithful and all three men separately and safely crossed the border after walking for days. How happy they were when they were miraculously reunited at a camp. They, however, could not stay at that refugee camp as they were informed that they could still be arrested and repatriated. And through the help that God provided using Christian brethren, they moved on to a safer place where they are awaiting God’s opening of doors to resettle at a more secure place.
One of them spoke for the others in saying, “When I reached here, I looked back, and saw that I had lost my freedom. But I also see now that I had lost time. I could not continue with school, I could not get skills training. I do not know how to do office work. I can’t even see myself marrying and having my own family. I am almost forty years now and I have to start from nothing.” Then he smiled and concluded, “But I still have Jesus. And He is worth it all.”
RESPONSE: Today I will appreciate what I have in Christ and know that He is worth every deprivation.
PRAYER: Pray for the many still in prison today in Eritrea. Pray they will also be strong in faith.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.