Argentina: Faith flourishes behind bars

Argentina: Faith flourishes behind bars

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Argentina: The amazing transformation at Los Olmos prison
Prison Revival in Argentina

 

In Argentina between 2008 and 2019 the percentage of Evangelicals grew from 9% to 15.3%. This revival is most remarkable in the nation’s prisons.

The evangelical advance in Argentina occurred, as in most Latin American countries, in all sectors of society, but especially “in the most vulnerable, including prison inmates,” says researcher Verónica Giménez of the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research (CONICET). There are similar developments in Brazil, where the huge Universal Church of the Kingdom of God has 14.000 people working with prisoners.

As an example, 40% of the approximately 6,900 inmates in the province of Santa Fe live in evangelical wards, estimates Walter Gálvez, Undersecretary of Penitentiary Affairs, who is also a Pentecostal. The Puerta del Cielo (‘Heaven’s Door’) and Redil de Cristo (‘Christ’s Sheepfold’) congregations are among those that exert strong influence in Santa Fe’s prisons. They began to evangelise inmates in the late 1980s and today have more than 120 pastors working inside prisons.

From hired killer to pastor

Rosario, a city with 1.3 million inhabitants, has high levels of poverty and crime. Violence between gangs seeking to control territory and drug markets has helped to fill its jails. Eighty percent of crimes in Rosario are carried out by young hitmen who provide services to the drug gangs, whose bosses are imprisoned and maintain control of the criminal business from the jails.

Jorge Anguilante from Piñero prison was sentenced to 12 years for murder. He has been allowed to head home every weekend to minister in a small evangelical church he started in a garage in Argentina’s most violent city. As he leaves, the former criminal-turned-pastor greets the guards with a single word: “Blessings!” His violent life is behind him, the word of God made him “a new man.”

His story, of a convicted murderer embracing an evangelical faith behind bars, is common in the dungeons of Argentina’s Santa Fe province and its capital city, Rosario. Many began selling drugs as teenagers and were caught in a spiral of violence that sent some to their graves and others to overcrowded prisons divided between two forces: the evangelicals and the drug traffickers.

In a church service in prison pop-style hymns blared from loudspeakers while three TV cameras recorded the ceremony for other worshippers watching at home via a YouTube channel. “No one else is going to jail. Not your children, not your grandchildren,” the pastor shouted to the crowd. “Change is possible!”

Inmate Ruben Luna, who is serving a 14-year sentence for murder, embraces Sebastian Monje, who has been in prison for eight months for attempted murder and robbery, before being baptised inside an evangelical cellblock at the penitentiary in Pinero.

Each evangelical unit at Pinero is run by 10 prisoners who have about 15 assistants for the 190 inmates. They’re in charge of controlling everything and keeping the peace. “We don’t use knives, but the Bible to take over a cellblock,” says Pentecostal pastor Sergio Prada. Prisoners who want to be allowed in must comply with rules of conduct, including praying three times a day, giving up all addictions and fighting.

Oasis inside prison

For the past 20 years, Argentine prison authorities have encouraged, in one way or another, the creation of units effectively run by evangelical inmates, sometimes granting them some additional special privileges, such as more time in the open air. The wards are much like those in the rest of the prison: clean and painted in pastel colors, light blue or green. They have kitchens, televisions and audio equipment, here used for prayer services. But they are safer and quieter than the regular units. Violating rules that prohibit fighting, smoking, alcohol or drugs can get an inmate sent back to the regular prison.

“We brought peace to the prisons. There were never any disturbances inside the evangelical wards. And that’s better for the authorities,” said Rev. David Sensini of the Redil de Cristo church, one of Rosario’s largest Pentecostal churches. Access is controlled by both prison officials and ward leaders who function as pastors and are wary of gang attempts to infiltrate.

Source: Evangélico Digital

Joel News International, # 1248, February 22, 2022

Revival behind bars
How God’s grace transformed Los Olmos, Argentina’s largest maximum-security prison. This inspiring e-book describes in detail how the revival in Los Olmos prison started, which changes it brought, how inmate leadership emerged and how the prison church was organized. Specific attention is given to the role of the prayer watches and how the revival influenced other prisons across Argentina. Detailed growth statistics are included. | order here

See also

Prison Revival in Argentina

Argentina: The amazing transformation at Los Olmos prison

Christian missionary tortured in prison led 40 to Christ

Iran: How two women brought hope in Tehran’s brutal Evin Prison

Remember those in prison

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BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

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George Chen – In the Garden: 18 years in prison

George Chen – In the garden: 18 years in prison

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The World Watch List 2022

Around the world, more than 360 million Christians live in places where they experience high levels of persecution, just for following Jesus. That’s 1 in 7 believers.

During the 18 years Chen had spent in prison, when he had often worried that all Christians had been killed or fallen away from the faith, God had caused the three churches he had led to increase from a total of 300 to 5,000 believers!

See Pastor George Chen’s moving labour camp story – In the Garden – YouTube 5 minutes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6dIi6k76MQincluding Chen singing ‘In the Garden’


George Chen 1932-2021

A Tribute by Paul Hattaway

George Chen was the very first Chinese Christian I ever met in my life. In the 1980s I was a new believer in Christ, saved just a few months, when the direction of my life was radically changed after hearing Chen speak at a church in my home country. I knew next to nothing about China at the time and my life was directionless. I had never had a single thought of going to China.

I was speechless after hearing the testimony of this man who spent 18 years in prison for Jesus. He had endured horrific conditions, and had not only survived the ordeal, but had emerged with an unconquerable faith! George Chen’s eyes shone as I spoke with him after the meeting. He encouraged me to unreservedly make myself available to God, and to consider being a “donkey for Jesus” by carrying Bibles across the border from Hong Kong to the spiritually starving Christians in China, who had been without Bibles for three decades.

As recorded in my biography, the Lord miraculously propelled me to China through a series of astonishing events, despite being a teenager with no money to my name. I found myself in China just weeks after that pivotal meeting, and I had also been exposed to a type of Christianity that was completely foreign to most Westerners. I recalled my meeting with George Chen in “An Asian Harvest”:

“His testimony impacted me deeply. in the formative time of my Christian walk. He had spent longer behind bars because of his love for Jesus than I had been alive at that time.

This precious man had learned to appreciate the small blessings of life…. George taught me that the kingdom of God cannot be defeated by evil men or governments. Whatever terrible things Satan and the world can throw at Jesus’ disciples, His purposes will not be thwarted.”  …

The Apostle Paul told Timothy, “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3).

Churches throughout China suffered continual hammer blows throughout the 1950s and 1960s, as Satan’s fury was unleashed on them. One Christian who suffered greatly was George Chen (Chinese name: Chen Minying), who endured inhumane treatment at the hands of his persecutors, only to be preserved by the hand of God. He was even given an international ministry after his release from prison.

Chen was born in 1932 to a humble family in Zhejiang Province. The chaos engulfing China at the time caused them to move to Shanghai, where George grew up. After hearing the Gospel he surrendered his life to God, and the Holy Spirit gave him a gift of evangelism.

Chen founded three rural churches with a total of 300 members, most of whom he had personally led to Christ. The believers had a hunger for the Word of God and desired to spread the Gospel, which soon caught the attention of the Communist authorities. Chen was first arrested in 1960 and imprisoned as a counterrevolutionary.

For the first three-and-a-half years, George was one of five inmates crammed into a cell that was so small the men had to lie on their sides, head-to-toe, like sardines in a can. A wooden bucket in the corner of the tiny space served as the toilet for all the men. George was often so hungry that he ate toothpaste to satisfy his cravings. Chen’s wife and son were not allowed to contact him during his incarceration, and for years he was oblivious to the fact that she had died, and his son had been killed by the Communist authorities.

In 1964, Chen was moved inland to a prison labor camp in Anhui Province, where he served a further 14 years.


Inmates at a prison labor camp in China in the 1970s.

After months of backbreaking work, seven days a week, the prison leaders were infuriated that they had been unable to make the evangelist deny his faith in Jesus.

They ordered Chen to perform the worst job in the prison, daily shoveling human excrement to be used as fertilizer. The massive amount of waste produced by 60,000 prisoners flowed into a large cesspool a short distance from the cells. He later recalled the struggle of those long and difficult years, and how he was often troubled by thoughts that God had abandoned him:

“I spent my days deep in human waste, turning it with a shovel to make compost. They thought I would be miserable, but actually I was happy. It smelled so bad that no one came near me, so I could pray and sing aloud all day.

If I was not a Christian I would have died, because the smell was maddening, and the stench terrible. But I enjoyed being alone in the cesspool, so I could pray to our Lord, recite the Scriptures, and sing hymns loudly.”

To counteract the thoughts that he had been forsaken, as he stood deep in human waste every day, George often sung the beautiful words of his favorite hymn, In the Garden:

“I come to the garden alone While the dew is still on the roses And the voice I hear falling on my ear The Son of God discloses.

“And He walks with me And He talks with me And He tells me I am His own And the joy we share as we tarry there None other has ever known.”

Finally, in 1978, the political situation relaxed a little in China, and Chen was released from prison and placed under house arrest. Eighteen long years had passed.

When he entered prison, the Cultural Revolution had yet to begin, and Mao held complete power. Now, the Cultural Revolution was over, and Mao was in the grave.

George was afraid that nobody would remember who he was. Most of all, he wondered if any of the Christians he had once known were still alive, or if there were any believers left in China at all. With trepidation, he slowly made his way home, not knowing what he would find.

For almost two decades, George Chen had been both burdened and blessed by the memory of his church members. Countless times, as he stood in the excrement pit, he prayed aloud for them, asking the Holy Spirit to sustain their faith and help them to overcome. As he got off the bus in his home area, he failed to recognize many of the buildings or faces of the people he passed.

Then, from behind, came a cry of shock from an elderly woman. “Pastor… is it you?” One of his former church members was still alive! In a typically constrained Chinese manner, the two did not hug, but shook hands as tears rolled down their faces. George was relieved. Now he knew that he was not the only Christian left in China. There were at least two!


Millions of books (including Bibles) were burned during the Cultural Revolution, creating a famine of the Word of God in China.

 God is Good

News of the pastor’s return spread throughout the neighborhood like wildfire, and soon the shining faces of many other believers pressed against the windows of a house he was invited to stay in. Many people were beside themselves with both shock and joy. They presumed the pastor had died decades earlier, and not a word had been heard to suggest that he was still alive.

The biggest shock was to come. When George asked one of his old friends if any fellowship of believers had survived, he was told, “Yes! God is good! He has sent His Spirit to breathe on us, and now we have many members. We are so glad that you have returned, because we do not have any Bibles and few of us remember many of the words of Jesus. Please teach us, pastor. Please!”

The Lord Jesus Christ, who promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church, had done a great miracle. During the 18 years Chen had spent in prison, when he had often worried that all Christians had been killed or fallen away from the faith, God had caused the three churches to increase from a total of 300 to 5,000 believers!

George was amazed, and he hardly slept that night as he tried to take in everything he had heard. His rejoicing was soon tempered, however, when he was told that his wife had died years earlier, and his young son had been killed. The prison officials had cruelly withheld this information from him.

Chen remained under house arrest until 1981, when he was “rehabilitated” by the government and his criminal records were erased.

Remarkably, for a man whom other Christians had forgotten about and assumed to be dead, God opened the door for George Chen to obtain a passport, and he shared his testimony in church meetings around the world during the late 1980s and 1990s. At each meeting, he invariably took time to thank the Body of Christ for sending missionaries to China in the past.

Chen remarried and spent much of his latter life traveling between his home and southwest China, where he ministered among ethnic minority groups, especially the Lisu people in the high mountains straddling the border with Myanmar. He was much loved, and he often drove a van hundreds of miles to deliver loads of precious Bibles to spiritually hungry Christians.

Although he officially retired in 2012 at the age of 80, George Chen continued to travel to China, where he advised house church leaders in Henan and Yunnan provinces. After many years spent ‘in the garden’ with Jesus Christ, his life shone into many dark places, and had become a sweet fragrance that attracted many souls to the kingdom of God.

Just a few months ago we received this photo of George. He looked fit and healthy, and we remarked that he would probably live to one hundred.

It wasn’t to be, however, and the Lord Jesus Christ finally called His servant home on October 27, 2021, when George Chen died peacefully in his sleep while in Hong Kong.

He was 89 years old.


George Chen in 2021, aged 89

Article edited from: In Memory of George Chen – Forever ‘In the Garden’

 

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BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

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George Chen – In the Garden: 18 years in prison
Over 100,000 Renewal Journal views annually.
Persecution in 2022

The Insanity of God- free online movie

The Insanity of God

With dramatic changes in Afghanistan, thousands of Christians in prison in China and North Korea, murders across North Africa, is God worth it? This free movie explores those stories dramatically.

Free online movie: The Insanity of God
A true story of faith and persecution

Inspiring articles, discounted books, free PDFs
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The Insanity of God:
https://renewaljournal.com/2021/08/21/the-insanity-of-god-free-online-movie/
Renewal Journal – a chronicle of renewal and revival: www.renewaljournal.com

The Insanity of God – book link

The Insanity of God is the personal and lifelong journey of an ordinary couple from rural Kentucky who thought they were going on just your ordinary missionary pilgrimage, but discovered it would be anything but. After spending over six hard years doing relief work in Somalia, and experiencing life where it looked like God had turned away completely and He was clueless about the tragedies of life, the couple had a crisis of faith and left Africa asking God, “Does the gospel work anywhere when it is really a hard place?

Nik recalls that, “God had always been so real to me, to Ruth, and to our boys. But was He enough, for the utter weariness of soul I experienced at that time, in that place, under those circumstances?” It is a question that many have asked and one that, if answered, can lead us to a whole new world of faith.

How does faith survive, let alone flourish in a place like the Middle East? How can Good truly overcome such evil? How do you maintain hope when all is darkness around you? How can we say “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world” when it may not be visibly true in that place at that time? How does anyone live an abundant, victorious Christian life in our world’s toughest places? Can Christianity even work outside of Western, dressed-up, ordered nations? If so, how?

The Insanity of God tells a story—a remarkable and unique story to be sure, yet at heart a very human story—of the Ripkens’ own spiritual and emotional odyssey. The gripping, narrative account of a personal pilgrimage into some of the toughest places on earth, combined with sobering and insightful stories of the remarkable people of faith Nik and Ruth encountered on their journeys, will serve as a powerful course of revelation, growth, and challenge for anyone who wants to know whether God truly is enough.

See also:

4
Modern Day Daniel


Christian missionary tortured in prison led 40 to Christ


Evangelization in North Korea


North Korea: Cherishing the book he once feared

Korea
North Korean believers meet underground

North Korea
North Korea: The blessing of forced solitude with God

 

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BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

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Argentina: The amazing transformation at Los Olmos prison

 

Argentina: The amazing transformation at Los Olmos prison

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The Olmos prison in Argentina used to be notorious for murders, satanic activity and violent riots. Today, however, you can hear inmates and guards praising and worshipping God.

This all began with one man’s obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit. In the mid 80’s Pastor Juan Zuccarelli felt called to prison ministry in Buenos Aires. He had, at that stage, only done crusades in the city and was a bit daunted by the task of ministering in prison, but knew he had to do it. He was told that the only way he could get into the prisons would be to become a prison guard.

He applied for a position and found out that he would have to wait 8 months for the application to be processed. He hoped that God would change His mind in the meantime and that He would call him somewhere else. Amazingly, within a week, he was contacted by the prison authorities informing him that he had the position. Juan took up his appointment immediately and became a prison guard, knowing that he would use his position to preach the Gospel.

300 prisoners attended the first crusade in Olmos prison. Of those, 100 were saved.

Sadly, these men were then physically, verbally and sexually assaulted by their peers because of their commitment. The Lord revealed that the Christians needed to have separate cell blocks, to create a safe space for them.

In 1987 the idea was proposed to the prison warden, but he was completely against it. Juan remembered an old burnt-out cell block that had previously been completely destroyed. He told the warden that if he would give them that cell, they would fix it, paint it and turn it into the best cell block in the whole of Olmos. He suggested that when the government came to inspect the prison they could show that cell block off as the model cell block. The warden accepted the challenge.

21 prisoners started that first cell block and they were able to have times of prayer, fasting and Bible studies which produced amazing results. Eventually they took over the entire floor, which was previously known as the ‘Elephant’s Floor’. It was used to house the most dangerous criminals and even had an altar built to honour Satan. In the past, families would bring the inmates small cats and dogs to burn as sacrifices to Satan, giving him power over the prison. After much prayer, that entire cell block now belongs to Jesus Christ.

The Christians have 24 cell blocks today and 1,600 prisoners have been saved at Olmos.

Once the Christians started to multiply, a group of missionaries was sent from Olmos to another prison to begin a church there. As new prisons were built, authorities approached Olmos and asked them to help them start churches in the new prisons so that they could be built on a similar solid foundation. Up to 200 saved prisoners from Olmos have been sent to new prisons to set up churches. Their growth eventually took over prisons in the entire province. Today there are churches in all 40 prisons across the provinces of Argentina.

The government then contacted Juan to start a completely Christian prison (before, they had only set up churches within prisons). There were 3 small prisons which had been empty for about 2 years and the officials told Juan he could pick anyone he wanted and he would be given the keys.

Juan identified Daniel Tajeda, an evangelical Christian, to be the warden of the new prison. He was very young at the time and only 96th in line for the position. However, Daniel’s faithfulness outshone the other candidates and he was appointed as the warden of 10 prisoners. From there on it grew, from 25 to 130 inmates. This prison is called ‘Christ, the Only Hope’.

The authorities saw the excellent results and gave Juan another prison.

The government was not able to provide any funding for the Christian prisons. There were no beds and mattresses and the cells were completely empty. There was no electricity, running water or gas. They also needed computers and medical supplies. All of their needs have been provided for by donations from ministries outside the prison. This dramatically improved the image of the church in the eyes of the government.

‘Christ, the Only Hope’ prison has 270 inmates and is run strictly on Christian principles. The staff believe that the prisoners have the potential to change and this fact is proven again and again. The inmates have serious criminal records, ranging from robbery, to rape, to murder. However, when these same criminals accepted Christ in their hearts they changed.

What a fully Christian prison looks like, how it’s organized, and the results of this approach when it comes to rehabilitation.

The Olmos prison in Argentina used to be notorious for murders, satanic activity and violent riots. Today, however, you can hear inmates and guards praising and worshipping God.

The authorities agreed with an experiment: a prison with 270 inmates called ‘Christ, the Only Hope’, run strictly on Christian principles.

Prisoners have to follow strict daily routines that train them to be spiritually disciplined. They start each new day with worshipping God. At 6:00 AM all the inmates gather for a time of devotion and praise and this is followed by a time of prayer. They also fast twice a week. In the afternoons the inmates gather for Bible study and fellowship, and later in the day attend a church service. When the inmates go to their rooms, five intercessors take up their posts and begin to pray through the long hours of the night.

One prisoner said, “Although we are locked up physically, God has made us free spiritually. God has blessed us to be an example to the outside world.”

The prison runs a store house where inmates donate food and clothing. They cannot tithe in money, but the things that their families and other visitors bring them are tithed to the store house. This is used to help others in need, both families outside of the prison, and prisoners in other units.

Due to their good behavior, the inmates are granted many special privileges. They are not locked up in cells with standard iron bars. These have been replaced with bright orange curtains so there is complete freedom of movement. They are allowed generous visiting hours with their families and this helps them form strong social ties which will assist with integrating them back into society upon their release. In many of the job creation programs in the prison, prisoners are entrusted with the use of a wide variety of tools normally prohibited in other prisons. This allows the inmates to make money while being in prison so that they can support their families.

There has been no attempt by any prisoner to escape ‘Christ, the Only Hope’. There have been no riots either. If an inmate should cause any problems he is spiritually disciplined. His punishment is to pray, fast and read the Bible. Inmates are never put into solitary confinement.

The lifestyle practiced in the Christian prisons has attracted the attention of other prison authorities.

Judges noticed that criminals wanted to be sent to these prisons. The authorities decided to send one of Argentina’s most hardened criminals to one of these Christian prisons. Hector Sanchez had been sentenced for the rape and murder of two young girls.

Hector says: “When I first got here my family had abandoned me, so the director of the prison asked a pastor to come and visit me. The Lord rescued me even though I was such a bad person who did terrible things. I believe He has put me here because He has a purpose for my life. To those who knew me before I came here – my transformed life is a testimony.”

Statistics show that 45 out of every 100 prisoners who are released end up back in prison for committing another crime. In contrast, only 5% of prisoners from evangelical prisons relapse.

The prison also runs a rehabilitation centre for inmates under the guardianship of the church.

Selected prisoners with less than 4 years can serve, work and live at the rehabilitation centre during the week with no guardianship at all. Over weekends they return to custody. The work they do and the trust they are given helps them build confidence. When they are released into the outside world they are equipped with life-skills to help them make a success of their lives.

It took 21 years to build the Christian prisons to where they are today in Argentina, but it all started with the faithfulness of one man. The challenge to all Christians is to follow the call that the Lord has placed in your hearts, no matter how crazy it may seem. When you act in obedience, God always comes through for you. Like Ed Silvoso says, “See what you’ve never seen before, do what you’ve never done before.”

VIDEO – The unbelievable but true story of how a prison that was once run by the church of Satan has been transformed into one of the most powerful churches in Argentina. An eye opening testimonial of how the power of God can fully restore criminals, their families, and even a corrupt system. This will infuse you with hope!

Source: Juan Zuccarelli, Ed Silvoso

REVIVAL BEHIND BARS

This e-book is a classic that’s only available on our website! Authors Michael Richardson and Juan Zuccarelli describe in detail how the revival in Los Olmos prison started, which changes it brought, how inmate leadership emerged and how the prison church was organised. Specific attention is given to the role of the prayer watches and how the revival influenced other prisons across Argentina. Detailed growth statistics are included.

E-book in pdf | original revival story | 42 pages | reading time: 45 mins

Revival Behind Bars book: https://www.joelnews.org/#e-books

Source: Joel News, # 1179, # 1180,  August 11 & 18, 2020

See also

Argentina: Faith flourishes behind bars

Prison Revival in Argentina

Christian missionary tortured in prison led 40 to Christ

Iran: How two women brought hope in Tehran’s brutal Evin Prison

Remember those in prison

GENERAL BLOGS INDEX

BLOGS INDEX 1: REVIVALS (BRIEFER THAN REVIVALS INDEX)

BLOGS INDEX 2: MISSION (INTERNATIONAL STORIES)

BLOGS INDEX 3: MIRACLES (SUPERNATURAL EVENTS)

BLOGS INDEX 4: DEVOTIONAL (INCLUDING TESTIMONIES)

BLOGS INDEX 5: CHURCH (CHRISTIANITY IN ACTION)

BLOGS INDEX 6: CHAPTERS (BLOGS FROM BOOKS)

BLOGS INDEX 7: IMAGES (PHOTOS AND ALBUMS)

BACK TO MAIN PAGE

 

 

 

Christian missionary tortured in prison led 40 to Christ

Christian missionary tortured by ISIS in prison led 40 to Christ

By Mark Ellis

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Charged with being a spy, Czech missionary Petr Jasek endured a 14-month imprisonment in Sudan where he was tortured by fellow cellmates. But Jesus supernaturally imparted peace during his confinement and he became a bold witness, winning many to Christ.

 

 

 

2

In his role as the Africa regional director for Voice of the Martyrs (VOM), Jasek went to Sudan to document the persecution of Christians, which was happening in the Nubah Mountains in clashes between the government and rebels.

He was detained by the Sudanese police at Khartoum Airport in December 2015. It seems immigration staff found a duplicate passport Jasek carried for security purposes, which led to his immediate arrest and imprisonment.

vomtodd

Jasek interviewed by Todd Nettleton at VOM

“I arrived at this cell at about 1:30 am,” he told VOM. He found the cell overcrowded, with people covering the floor. “They had to squeeze a little bit so they would create some small room for me to lie down on the floor.”

The conditions were sparse. “I had no blanket…two extra T-shirts and one extra pants and a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap; that was all.”

Guards refused him blankets or a mattress, because he was from the Czech Republic and they told him they thought he should be used to cold weather.

At 5:30 am he was awakened by the Islamic call for prayer. All six of his cellmates began praying fervently. “They showed me a place behind them where I was supposed to stand while they were praying. The rule is that me as a Christian, I had to stay behind them so they would not look at me while they are praying.”

After the prayers, they identified themselves as DAESH, the Arabic acronym for ISIS. All his cellmates were ISIS fighters!

“Two days later they started to openly torture me and beat me…I was hit with their fists into my face many times. They called me ‘filthy pig’ or ‘filthy rat.’”

One of the ISIS fighters barked an order: “Filthy pig, come here.”

“I decided at first I would not respond to these rude names and when I did not respond I got hit with a wooden stick they unscrewed from the sweeper that was there to clean the floor.”

Jasek was hit on the head, shoulders and fingers or they kicked him in the stomach and back with their boots. “At that time I was really thinking about the Lord Jesus what He had to go through when He was arrested and they also were beating Him with a wooden stick and were ridiculing Him, slapping Him.

“I became like their slave,” he told VOM. “I was really [made] to wash their clothes, wash all the dishes, clean the toilet with my bare hands. They were just making fun of me. I did not resist.”

“I could clearly see the Lord Jesus and how He suffered for us.”

Then Jesus imparted something to him that was amazing and unexpected, considering the circumstances. “I received a wonderful peace at that time and surprisingly, when I was physically attacked I was experiencing the greatest peace in prison time ever, all these 14-1/2 months.

“I could even pray during these beatings for my family members, I could pray for other fellow prisoners and I was not moved to the point when I used to be before, because I had this peace from the Lord at this time of the physical attacks on my body.

When Jasek began to exalt and and glorify the Lord’s name during his beatings, this made them even more furious. “They decided to torture me even in much worse way.

“Eventually, they decided to do waterboarding to me. It’s a way of torture where a person lays on his back and they cover his mouth and pour water, which gives you the feeling that you are getting drowned.

The Sudanese guards had not intervened to stop Jasek’s torture, because they were intimidated by the ISIS fighters. “It is [thought] that if these Islamists get released they will get revenge on those guards.”

Jasek didn’t have access to a Bible during his captivity, so he meditated on Scriptures he memorized as a young person.

“I was literally asking the Lord that He will keep my mind sound and that I wouldn’t lose my mind through the situation,” Jasek said. “The Holy Spirit kept reminding me some of the verses that I had memorized. This was just enough for me, to give me enough strength everyday to pray,” he told VOM.

He also thought about Jesus’ teaching about loving enemies. He was startled when he heard his abusers weeping late at night when they could not sleep.

“They were crying. They were also missing their family members. They were also crying to God for help,” he recounted. “That allowed me to easily continue to pray for them. I was praying for those fellow prisoners, the interrogators, for the guards, for the prosecutors and for the judge, that the Lord would reveal Himself as the Lord, Savior and God.”

Remarkably, one of the guards intervened to prevent the waterboarding. Jasek said he felt the Lord used the guard to move him out of the cell.

“Later on I told the guard that he saved my life and we became close friends,” Jasek said. “I gave my email address and I started to share the Gospel with him. He was very passionate. I told him that if he ever makes it to Europe, he can stay at my house and we will take care of him.”

Then Jasek was moved to another prison where conditions were even worse.

“We were squeezed in a small room — 15 by 18 feet. There were sometimes 40 of us. That was the situation and I was able to lead 40 Eritrean refugees to Christ,” he said. “It was like new revelation for me. I started to be courageous and openly shared the Gospel with other fellow prisoners. Later on, that resulted in them putting me in solitary confinement again.”

Shortly after being placed in solitary confinement, Czech consular officers were able to bring him a Bible.

“I didn’t have to do anything else but read the Bible all day. I could not read the Bible all day because I could only read when there was enough light, which was about 8 [a.m.] … until 4:30 p.m. I had to stand reading on the bars so that I could have enough light. I was so hungry for Scripture. I read from Genesis to Revelation within three weeks.”

Jasek noted that he gained a profound “new understanding of Scripture.”

He was eventually removed from solitary confinement and moved to a larger prison that can hold about 10,000 people.

“I went from solitary to a cell where there were like 100 people in one cell,” he explained. “We were squeezed. There were 75 beds. Only 75 could have a bed and 25 had to stay on the floor.”

Amazingly, guards at the new prison allowed him and two incarcerated Sudanese pastors to hold worship services.

“The first day I came to the chapel to spend time in Scripture with the Lord. They asked me to preach. I would preach once a week, sometimes twice a week,” Jasek said. “Of course, they were monitoring us and they were reporting what we were teaching about. There were two other pastors from Sudan and we knew that nothing worse could happen to us.”

Preaching in prison allowed Jasek and the other pastors to witness to “people that were hopeless.”

“They were real criminals — murderers, rapists, thieves, drug dealers. It was such a wonderful time,” Jasek said. “They responded to our teaching. We were just teaching the Gospel. It was so wonderful to see the changed life of those who dedicated their lives to Christ.”

vomjail

In February 2017, he was granted a presidential pardon and Sudanese President Umar al-Bashir ordered his immediate release. He returned to the Czech Republic on February 26, 2017.

During the time Jasek was interrogated by the jihadis in prison his wife was in a Bible study back home and the leader stopped the study to pray for the “situation that he is right now in.”

“They stopped reading and started to pray for the Lord’s presence over the situation,” Jasek said. “When I came home, I realized that was exactly the time when I was on my knees before the Islamists and they were beating me. But I was experiencing a supernatural peace.”

“I came for four days to Sudan. But I was there 445 days,” Jasek told VOM. “When you think about all the hardships and seeing what the Lord was able to do through us, then what else can we say but the Lord’s ways are much better than our ways.”

“We know from the words of apostle Paul that everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. I felt like I received my life back. I was first threatened to be sentenced to be executed. [Then] later on, life imprisonment. Then, my life was returned back to me. I told the Lord, ‘My life does not belong to me anymore. It belongs to the Lord.’”

To learn more about Voice of the Martyrs go here

Source: God Reports, April 11, 2018

See also

Argentina: The amazing transformation at Los Olmos prison

Prison Revival in Argentina

Argentina: Faith flourishes behind bars

Christian missionary tortured in prison led 40 to Christ

Iran: How two women brought hope in Tehran’s brutal Evin Prison

Remember those in prison

Barnabas Fund www.barnabasfund.org
Voice of the Martyrs www.persecution.com.au
The Open Doors www.opendoors.org.au

This article is in Mission Blogs

See also The Spirit told us what to do – 2 teenage girls plant 30 churches.

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Iran: Two Women brought Hope in Tehran’s brutal Evin Prison

Two women brought hope in Tehran’s brutal Evin Prison

May 22, 2013

* 20,000 New Testaments given
* House church for prostitutes
* 259 days in the notorious prison

Iran: How two women brought hope in Tehran’s brutal Evin Prison

Podcast:
Nicky Gumble with Maryam and Marziyeh at Holy Trinity Brompton church, London – a personal interview – 40 min.

Maryam Rostampour and Marziyeh Amirizadeh knew they were putting their lives on the line. Born and raised as Muslims, both women grew unsatisfied with the teachings of the Koran and converted to Christianity after personal encounters with Jesus. Though Islamic laws in Iran forbade them from sharing their Christian beliefs, in three years they’d covertly put New Testaments into the hands of twenty thousand of their countrymen. They’d started two secret house churches, including one for prostitutes – many of them women who had been abandoned by their husbands and had no other way to support themselves and their children.

“We both had the same vision from God for evangelizing Iranian people by distributing Bibles. God showed me how Iran is like a land that needs seed. He told me, ‘I will raise and grow this.’ Maryam also had a dream about this, so we became sure it was God’s will,” explains Marziyeh. “We decided to cover all parts of Tehran. We usually went at night and distributed Bibles into mailboxes. Every day we went shopping or to restaurants and talked to people, often handing them a New Testament. We also started a house church for young people and another for prostitutes. All of this is illegal and dangerous because no one is allowed to talk about any religion except Islam. During this time, we could see God’s miracles every day. We have many stories of how God protected us.”

But finally – perhaps inevitably – in 2009, the two young women were arrested. For some reason in the months before that, they were unable to hand out Bibles, as the Holy Spirit took away their desire to evangelize. “We knew something would happen, that there would be a change in our lives. Only after we got released we heard from one of the security police that they were watching us for two months before arresting us. But they couldn’t prove we were handing people Bibles. We believed it was God’s protection for us.”

“After hours of praying and singing, we felt God’s peace in our hearts.”

The two women were held in the notorious Evin Prison in Tehran, a place where inmates are routinely tortured, and executions are swift and sudden. 

“Our first night in prison, we both were so scared,” recalls Maryam. “We had no power to speak. The first thing the security police tried was physical torture. They put us in a dark, cold cell and said they would come to torture us. We just hugged each other and said goodbye, thinking it was the last day for us. We began to pray for each other. After hours of praying and singing, we could feel God’s peace in our hearts. But it was not easy. Every day was mental torture. In interrogation they threatened our families, which was even worse than hearing about execution.”

“One day they invited a university professor in to convince us to deny our faith. He told me that if I was one of his family members he wouldn’t wait for the court’s decision – he would have killed me himself,” says Maryam. “We went to something like 10 courts, and in each court the judges would threaten us with execution,” says Marziyeh. “But the hardest part was the execution of other prisoners. I never experienced such a difficult thing. After the execution, there was this spirit of sorrow and death everywhere, and sometimes we couldn’t say anything. Everyone was under pressure.”

But in the face of chilling interrogations and intimidation, something remarkable happened: instead of succumbing to fear, they chose to take the radical – and dangerous – step of sharing their faith inside the very walls of the government stronghold that was meant to silence them. They found the prison being fertile ground for the gospel.

“Prison was like a church every day. We gathered and prayed.”

“Prison is the place where most people are hopeless,” Marziyeh says. “They all need someone to save them. The prisoners were open to hear about Jesus and many were asking us to pray for them. Before we were imprisoned, we would ask God to show us whoever he chose, and that we would be able to talk to those people. But detention and prison increased those opportunities, since it was like a church every day. We gathered and prayed. It was easier to evangelize because we were already in prison.” “We just tried to love them,” Maryam says. “This had a great affect on most prisoners and even the guards.”

“Prayer was the only thing that helped us, strengthened us,” says Marziyeh. “Sometimes we couldn’t even pray in Farsi, our language. We didn’t even know how. Many times we were praying in tongues. We witnessed power in prayers, especially in difficulties. We could see the miracles of God every day and it made our faith stronger. We didn’t have a Bible with us in prison, but every day we could touch God. We could touch Bible verses inside the prison because we were living them. We learned how to forgive our enemies. We remembered how Jesus forgives our sins and how he suffered for us.”

After international pressure from the United Nations, Amnesty International, and other human rights groups, the women were released. They left Iran to continue ministry through writing and speaking in the United States. In their book ‘Captive in Iran’, Maryam and Marziyeh recount how God used their 259 days in Evin Prison to bring about a miraculous reversal: shining light into one of the world’s darkest places, giving hope to those who had lost everything, and showing love to those in despair.

Source: Joel News International 861, May 22, 2013

Leadership Conversations by Nicky Gumbel:
Nicky Gumble with Maryam and Marziyeh at Holy Trinity Brompton church, London – a personal interview – 40 min.

In 2009 in Iran, Maryam and Marziyeh were imprisoned and sentenced to death because of their Christian faith. Maryam and Marziyeh were born into Muslim families but converted to Christianity and began to share the Gospel with those around them. They were arrested in March 2009 after being accused of evangelism and apostasy. After 259 days in Tehran’s notorious Evin Prison they were released. This is their story.

https://www.alpha.org/blog/leadership-conversations-with-nicky-gumbel-podcast-maryam-marziyeh/


Their book of their story. You can read the first 19 pages on Look inside.

There is an ongoing underground revival in the Muslim world. Over the past 20 years more Muslims have found Isa (Jesus) then in all the previous centuries together.
See links:
Iran: where Christianity is growing fastest
Iran – fastest-growing evangelical population
Many Muslims are turning to Christ
Jesus and Muslims: Life in the desert
18,000 Muslim leaders led to Christ in West Africa
Jesus appears to Middle Eastern Muslim for a month
Iman hated Christians until Jesus raised him from the dead
Muslim woman returns from the dead to tell about Jesus

See also

Argentina: The amazing transformation at Los Olmos prison

Prison Revival in Argentina

Christian missionary tortured in prison led 40 to Christ

Iran: How two women brought hope in Tehran’s brutal Evin Prison

Remember those in prison

Barnabas Fund www.barnabasfund.org
Voice of the Martyrs www.persecution.com.au
The Open Doors www.opendoors.org.au

Revival PDF books on the Main Page

**********************************************

The Tree

The Tree

A 4 Death of JesusA 7 LionThis Christian Herald story is included in The Lion of Judah (4) The Death of Jesus and (7) The Lion of Judah in one volume

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A great prison warden, Kenyon Scudder, often told this story of a modern-day miracle. A friend of his happened to be sitting in a railway coach next to a young man who was obviously depressed. Finally the man revealed that he was a convict returning from a distant prison. His imprisonment had brought shame on his family and they had neither visited him nor written often. He hoped, however, that this was only because they were too poor to travel, too uneducated to write. He hoped, despite the evidence, that they had forgiven him.

To make it easy for them, however, he had written them to put up a signal for him when the train passed their little farm on the outskirts of town. If his family had forgiven him they were to put up a white ribbon in the big apple tree near the line. If they didn’t want him back they were to do nothing, and he would stay on the train, go far away, probably become a hobo.

As the train neared his home town his suspense became so great he couldn’t bear to look out the window. His companion changed places with him and said he would watch for the apple tree. In a minute, he put his hand on the young convict’s arm. “There it is,” he whispered, his eyes bright with sudden tears. “It’s all right. The whole tree is white with ribbons” (The Christian Herald, January 1961).

It’s all right. The whole tree is red with blood.

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

We celebrate our eternal reunion, forgiven and clean.

This story from The Christian Herald, 1961, precedes the famous 1970s song “Tie a yellow ribbon ’round the ole oak tree” about a similar story of a man returning home on a bus after three years imprisonment.

Tie_a_Yellow_Ribbon-p0im3m-d 2

Tie a yellow ribbon ’round the ole oak tree

I’m comin’ home, I’ve done my time
Now I’ve got to know what is and isn’t mine
If you received my letter telling you I’d soon be free
Then you’ll know just what to do
If you still want me
If you still want me

Whoa, tie a yellow ribbon ’round the ole oak tree
It’s been three long years
Do ya still want me (still want me)
If I don’t see a ribbon ’round the ole oak tree
I’ll stay on the bus
Forget about us
Put the blame on me
If I don’t see a yellow ribbon ’round the ole oak tree

Bus driver, please look for me
’cause I couldn’t bear to see what I might see
I’m really still in prison
And my love, she holds the key
A simple yellow ribbon’s what I need to set me free
I wrote and told her please

Whoa, tie a yellow ribbon ’round the ole oak tree
It’s been three long years
Do ya still want me (still want me)
If I don’t see a ribbon ’round the ole oak tree
I’ll stay on the bus
Forget about us
Put the blame on me
If I don’t see a yellow ribbon ’round the ole oak tree

[Instrumental Interlude]

Now the whole damned bus is cheerin’
And I can’t believe I see
A hundred yellow ribbons ’round the ole oak tree

I’m comin’ home, mmm, mmm

(Tie a ribbon ’round the ole oak tree)

The Christian Herald story is included in The Lion of Judah (4) The Death of Jesus

 

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