Tears squeezed out from the young man’s eyes. Then they opened wide in utter terror. “They’re going to kill me,” he cried. “They said they would. They claim that I am a ‘snitch’ and I can’t get away from them!” The young fellow before me was trembling in overwhelming fright. I knew that being a “snitch” was the worst offence in prison, and doubtless this young man was in danger. With intensity, I told him the first thing we do is to pray an emergency prayer. God can help us, I told him.
So we prayed for immediate deliverance. Before I even said my “Amen”, the prison chaplain (Peter Roomet) walked through the room. I called him over and explained the situation. Chaplain Peter asked a few questions of his own, and then made some telephone calls. Within a short time the young man was assigned to another block and officers went to his cell, moved his few belongings to the new cell so he didn’t have to show his face. He was safe!
I am continually awed by the power of genuine simple prayer. When the sky is falling in, what do we do? How easy it is to worry and fear or get angry, but it does no good. But bringing our earnest petitions to the Lord is such a simple solution! He then opens the way to work out the solution He has in mind. With our eyes on the Lord, He is in charge of the results, not us.
The news each day is filled with frightening stories of ISIS. In my mind I see that news picture recently of a group of 15-20 Coptic Christians in Libya lined up on the shoreline, each with his executioner standing beside him. In a short time each one was going to lose his head, literally. Every night I lock my doors because robbers might sneak in. Our home was broken into in the last several years, so I live now with a little more fear than I used to. How unnecessary! Yes, I must take reasonable precautions, lock the doors, drive safely, have suitable insurance; but someday maybe the sky will fall in on me. Then what will I do? My eyes are on the Lord. “I will rescue those who love me and protect those who trust in my name” says the Lord. But it will be His kind of rescue. Even death is not always a defeat. For us Christians, death is a triumphant ending that brings us to the throne of the Father.
Another man, in his early 40’s, was literally brimming with joy as I met him in prison. Only two weeks earlier, through the help of the chaplain, he had accepted the Lord as his Savior. His attitudes and behavior were transformed! It was extraordinarily visible on his face. For 16 years in an upstate prison he told me he had nursed anger, bitterness and resentment. A fellow inmate and a past friend of his in all the bad things they had done became a Christian up there and urged him to do the same. He refused. Year after year he watched that friend; waiting for him to give up his “religion”, watching for the changes to evaporate. But they didn’t, year after year! Upon coming back now to prison after his release, he said to me “I see I cannot make it on my own. On my own I’m a disaster. I need God to be in charge.”
For some of us, we might face a dead end, or we’re driven up a wall, or knocked down, or thrown into a whirlpool of problems and losing our bearings. How are we going to make it? We find ourselves inexplicably getting irritated at everyone, or angry or fearful, or unnecessarily prone to temptations. What are we Christians supposed to do when the going gets rough, when the world falls in on us?
The exciting news is when we let go of our ways into God’s hands, we receive succor in time of need. The comfort of God soothes our souls. How awesome it is to see at those times, when we purposely and deliberately depend on God, that solutions show up that we never imagined could have possible -like my whipping out this Onesimus article when I was sure I had no time or inspiration to do it!
How wonderful our God is! As Scripture says it: “How kind the Lord is, how good he is, so merciful is this God of ours!” Onesimus is attempting to bring this good news to men and women in prison. We on the Onesimus board are deeply grateful for our two chaplains, Peter Roomet serving the men and Lil Anthony serving the women. They know the goodness of the Lord in their own lives and are testifying to that with those incarcerated. They are bringing hope to many, day after day.
Thank you, Lord.