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Life Outside of Prison

(Source: VOM Radio. Edited for length and clarity. Photo: Christians in Iran praying.)

Robert Aserian was a pastor in Iran, where most people are Muslims. The government in Iran does not want anyone to teach Muslims about Jesus. But Pastor Aserian wanted to tell everyone about his Savior — including Muslims. That’s how he ended up in prison.

A previous post told about the difficult conditions Pastor Aserian endured in prison. Then he understood that God was with him, and he was in God’s plan. And he had peace. “OK, Lord,” he prayed. “If You are here, I can be in prison for years.”

He didn’t have to stay in prison for years. But life wasn’t easy outside of prison either. The pastor told Todd Nettleton of VOM Radio what life is like for released Christians in Iran. Read part of their conversation below.

Pastor Aserian: We were always under observation and control. We couldn’t contact any Christians, because that person would get in trouble [for talking to us].

Todd: It’s very difficult to be a pastor when you’re not allowed to talk to any of your congregation.

Pastor Aserian: Yes. One difficult experience church leaders have is when they are set free, other believers are afraid to contact them. They become so alone. I even heard some of them say, “When we were in prison, it wasn’t so bad. Now our situation is much worse.”

Todd: We think of people who are in prison, and we pray for them, “Lord, sustain them while they are in prison.” Then they get released and we say, ‘Wow, praise the Lord. He has answered their prayer; they are out of prison.” But that may be the time they need prayer even more.

Pastor Aserian: Exactly.

Todd: So I would encourage our [VOM Radio] listeners who are praying for a Christian in prison. We want you to do that. Prisoneralert.com is a website of Christians in prison. But don’t just pray while they are in prison. They might actually need your prayers even more after they are released than they do while they are in prison.

To Do and Talk About
*Why might a released prisoner need prayer?
*Visit prisoneralert.com and choose a prisoner to pray for today.
*Find the list of released prisoners on prisoneralert.com, and choose one to pray for.

 


Life in a Solitary Cell

(Source: VOM Radio. Edited for length and clarity. Photo: A church in Iran. The pastor’s face is covered to protect his identity.)

Robert Aserian was a pastor in Iran, where most people are Muslims. The government in Iran does not want anyone to teach Muslims about Jesus. But Pastor Aserian wanted to tell everyone about his Savior — including Muslims. That’s how he ended up in prison.

The pastor told Todd Nettleton of VOM Radio what going to prison in Iran is like. “It was very difficult because they came to our home early in the morning, and I was arrested before the eyes of my two boys. For me it was difficult that my small boys observed what happened.

“I was placed in a solitary cell, a difficult experience. The cell was a small room, maybe 2 meters by 2 meters [about 6 ½ feet square]. Nothing is there. No bed, no newspaper, no book, no TV, nothing. You are sleeping on the ground. For five or six hours, I was under interrogation. [“Interrogation” is questioning by the police.]

“I started to pray and worship, then I started to preach. I imagined that I stood before a congregation, and I preached to that imaginary congregation.

“There was some exercise in that small room — just walking in the small space hundreds of times. I tried to remember the words of the Bible, books that I read, and childhood memories. [I remembered that] in Colossians 1:24, Paul rejoiced in his suffering.

“Twice in the prison, the Lord spoke with me directly. That was a big comfort for me. I found out that I’m not alone. God is with me, and I am in God’s plan. God told me, “If you are here, it is My plan.’ From that point, my fear was gone.”

Pastor Aserian was released from prison and has left Iran to live in a safer place. Please pray for him and for all the Christians still in prison in Iran.

To Talk About
*How did Pastor Aserian keep busy in his solitary cell?
*Measure an empty space 6 ½ feet by 6 ½ feet. Talk about how you would spend one day in the space.
*Using the pastor’s story as a guide, what can you pray for Iranian Christians in prison today?
*Should Pastor Aserian have stopped telling people about Jesus so he could stay out of prison?


Prisoner Surprises Letter Writers

To Dinh Trung
To Dinh Trung

To Dinh Trung, a Vietnamese Christian, was in prison in Vietnam several years ago for sharing the gospel. The Voice of the Martyrs told readers about him in the VOM magazine. Many Christians prayed for Trung and wrote letters to Vietnamese officials on his behalf.

Trung had been to prison more than 20 times. Government officials did not want him to minister among tribal groups. On one of his trips to share the gospel with members of the K’ho tribe, police officers pulled him off his bicycle and arrested him.

The prisons where Trung was locked up were miserable places. “I was in an isolation cell about two meters square,” Trung said about one of his prisons. (Two meters is about 6.5 feet.) “It was very dark and dirty with no windows. They did not allow me to bring anything inside. The mosquitoes could freely bite me. The smell was terrible. I could not bathe. I got a high fever.”

While Trung was in prison, his wife and three children were left to care for themselves. Clearly Trung had many reasons to be eager about leaving prison.

Then an unusual thing happened. Because of the concern of Christians around the world, Vietnamese officials agreed to let Trung out of prison early.

But he wasn’t ready to leave! He had taught many prisoners about God, and he felt he needed to stay and teach them more about following Christ. Perhaps the letters and prayers of other Christians strengthened him enough to remain in prison and teach the prisoners.

Trung finished his prison sentence, was released from prison, and continued to serve the Lord.

To Dinh Trung’s story is told in the book Jesus Freaks, revised and updated edition. Parents and teachers: The new Jesus Freaks is available here. Please preview the stories before sharing them with younger children.


A Jesus Freak in Colombia

When Luis was 10 years old, he and his brother hid under a bed while a violent rebel group called FARC (rhymes with “dark”) attacked their village in Colombia. The attackers took Luis’s father as a hostage before they left town. Thankfully, Luis’s dad was freed after a few hours, and the family escaped the area together.

Luis gave his life to Christ when he was 13. He felt God’s call to help villages that had suffered violent attacks. So he bought books, games, and other items, and he took them to his old village, which was still a dangerous place. In addition to gifts for children, Luis also brought New Testaments and gave them to police officers, soldiers, and rebel fighters. “I told them, ‘Jesus still loves you despite all the pain you have caused,’” Luis said. “I thought, ‘If I die, I die with Christ'”

Now Luis is a pastor. “I’m not scared,” he said. “I have a call from God.”

Source: Jesus Freaks, revised and updated edition. Parents and teachers: The new Jesus Freaks is available here.  Please preview the stories before sharing them with younger children.


Praying for Muhammad and Covered Ladies

Ibrahim, a pastor in Iraq, says that many Muslims are seeking the truth. “A lot of people are turning away from Islam,” Pastor Ibrahim said. (Islam is the religion of Muslims.)

Ibrahim encourages Christians to pray for more Muslims to come to Christ. He told VOM workers about one way his Christian friend prays for Muslims.

Ibrahim said, “My friend told me, “When I wake up, I don’t just pray for Muslims. Instead I say, “Lord, everyone whose name is Muhammad, please come to him.”’ So he is going to be praying for 20 percent of Muslims.” [Muhammad is the man who started Islam. Many Muslims name their sons after him.]

“We can also pray for every covered lady, ‘Please Lord, show yourself to her.’ So we are praying for 40 percent of Muslims.” [Strict Muslims believe that women should cover themselves in robes and scarves in public.]

To Think About
Pastor Ibrahim’s friend thought of a way to pray for Muslims. He prays for everyone named Muhammad, and for “covered ladies.” What are some other ways you can pray for Muslims?