Sometimes Christians Go To Jail

Sometimes Christians go to jail.

It’s funny that I was thinking about this on Sunday morning before news of the arrest of ten Baptist American missionaries in Haiti. A church sponsored team was detained at the Haiti/DR border and charged with child trafficking for trying to take thirty-three children to safety without proper documentation.

I admit, at first I was appalled because it all seemed so misguided – especially when one child cried that she wasn’t an orphan and that she thought she was going to a camp or a boarding school. But in the context of the chaos in the wake of the disaster, rampant government corruption and poverty levels so dire parents offer their children to total strangers – not in exchange for cash – but in the desperate hope that their child may find a better life than they could ever dream of in Haiti – well, I guess I’m not so quick to judge.

Sunday morning I was thinking about the long tradition of believers spending time in prison for either preaching the gospel, practicing their faith, acting on their beliefs against government sanctions or refusing to submit to immoral civil authorities.

Joseph was imprisoned when Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him of attacking her (he had actually resisted her come on).

Esther was taken captive and imprisoned in the King’s harem –eventually chosen as Queen of Persia.

Daniel was thrown in a lion’s den for refusing to cease praying to his God.

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into a furnace when they would not bow down to a golden government idol.

Peter and Paul, as well as other apostles, were beaten and imprisoned repeatedly for preaching the gospel.

Stephen was stoned to death for preaching.

Through the centuries, hundreds and thousands of Christians were fed to lions, tortured for sport or imprisoned for acting on behalf of others. Some faced charges for smuggling Bibles into countries closed to Christianity. Others have been imprisoned or sent to work camps by Communist governments simply for practicing their faith. Some died in concentration camps for assisting Jews during the Holocaust. Some have been arrested for trying to convert Muslims or carrying the Jesus movie into Muslim controlled countries. Some have been charged or harassed for homeschooling. Many were arrested for their involvement in the Underground Railroad and again during the civil rights movement. Many more were arrested for protesting outside of abortion clinics. Some women who convert to Christianity from Islam are made prisoners inside their own homes.

I’m not sure how we got our modern reputation as “do-gooders” when historically we’ve been renowned as trouble makers.

I think we’ve enjoyed the luxury of a government founded on Christian principles for so long – been so spoiled by the freedoms afforded by that government – that we often walk into other countries under the mistaken assumption that they will see things our way. We Americans have developed a naiveté that Christians cannot afford as we move about the globe.

There is much evil afoot and Jesus warned us about this when He said, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matthew 10: 16-22

Now, don’t get me wrong. Some Christians have gotten into trouble just for causing a ruckus. Peter warned about this when he said, “If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name.” I Peter 4:14-16 Sometimes meddling can look a lot like missionary work. We have to be prayerful, discerning and wise, guided by the Spirit at all times.

I certainly cannot wax poetic about spending time in prison. There’s nothing romantic about it. Christians who spend time in any type of lock-up experience suffering most of us will never understand. None of us should seek out this type of metal bar martyrdom.

BUT, as evil persists in this world, more of us should be standing against it, joining the resistance and risking even the freedom we take for granted for the sake of reaching others with the message of what Jesus Christ has done for us.

The world will not understand.

We will be misunderstood, at the very least. Hated and reviled by some. Called bad names. Humiliated, thwarted, deceived, used, abused, tricked, robbed, frightened, beaten, arrested, deported. Some of us will go to jail.

Sometimes Christians go to jail. You know what they learn?

That God is there, too.

There are no bars that can hold our Father from reaching His children – He will find us if we’re trapped in gulags or barracks or palaces or penthouses or foreign jails or interrogation rooms or courts or under piles of rubble. He will be with us.

God with us. Sometimes Christians go to jail but God goes there every day.

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    The Conversation

  1. Greg says:

    How interesting that Dusty Chris recently blogged on a similar topic. 🙂

    The point, as you said, is to be there because of your Spirit-led witnessing, not because you broke legitimate laws.

    We’re spoiled here in the US, in that we don’t have to worry much about being thrown in jail for preaching Christ.

  2. Cheri says:

    You said, “God with us. Sometimes Christians go to jail but God goes there every day.”

    So true. So true.

    Excellent post. Very challenging.


  3. Anonymous says:

    Hi Lori: Hope your cold is better. I am teaching at two places until the end of April. Happy Valentine’s Day. I may be writing a SNIPETTS TWO— MORE SHORT STORIES.

    I do love my blog. It is lots of fun . I love it if someone makes a comment. Hope your husband is doing okay. Fondly, Fancy Nancy