A letter I received from a New Hampshire man said he was in trouble with the law, adding it wasn't the first time. He been locked up before on a drug charge. But, considering his past, this supposed offense was so different from his previous one that the local newspaper ran a story on it, which he had enclosed.
The story told of his arrest and of his long-term addiction to heroin. It described his sordid past but said he had become a Christian about a year before his arrest and this had led to his present problem.
Let me explain.
When this former addict found the chains that bound him for so long had been broken by the power of God, he wanted to tell everyone about it. He became active in a church and started distributing stories of faith in an effort to share the good news.
Since one of the inmates of the jail had contacted his church, asking for a visit, my correspondent was chosen to respond to the request and he accepted. After all, he'd been where the prisoner now found himself, so could identify with him. Besides, his Lord had commended those who had visited prisoners and said in doing so they had ministered to him. (Matthew 25:36-40) It seemed like a wonderful opportunity to show the love of his Lord to a troubled person.
On arriving at the jail, this convict-turned-missionary noticed a number of police cars in the parking lot and just couldn't resist placing stories of faith on their windshields. Here was a chance to tell the officers he had once feared and offended that he wouldn't be troubling them anymore ... and why.
That was when his trouble began.
This one whose life finally had order and purpose was arrested for placing literature on the police cars and charged with disorderly conduct. A deputy told him he should have received official permission before attempting to share this good news with them. So this dangerous pamphleteer was jailed until someone could post his bail. And, surprising as it may seem, he's but one of many who have been imprisoned for telling what good things God has done for them when they have responded in faith to his love.
Jeremiah, the Old Testament prophet, spent time in a damp dungeon for speaking the truth to his king when it would have been easier to dilute his message.
John the Baptist was sent to jail and later beheaded because he refused to water down his message and boldly rebuked King Herod for immorality.
Peter was imprisoned for preaching the gospel and was kept there pending probable execution but was freed through the prayers of his church.
Paul wrote much of the New Testament from a Roman jail. Those who suffer for their faith are in good company. Through the centuries, millions of believers have endured painful persecution, sometimes even losing their lives. They're sure to be rewarded when they stand before the judge.
There is a happy ending to the story of the man who went to jail and got arrested.
When the city attorney found out what had happened to him, he immediately secured his release and gave him a letter stating he had acted well within his rights. This twice-freed man was so pleased that he had to write to me to tell the good news.
We who enjoy the blessings of human rights and religious freedom ought to be grateful to God and not forget those who gave their lives to keep us free.
Roger Campbell is the head of Higher Ground, a radio ministry based in Waterford, Mich.
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