By Daneille Gray Snowden
Saeed Abidini, a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and an American citizen has been imprisoned for over a year in Iran. He was arrested as he was opening an orphanage. Beaten, hungry, laying in a dark prison; Saeed has been able to lead several to Christ. God has opened doors to hurting souls; hidden away from the rest of the world; to shed His Glorious Light on them.
We as Christians love to read about others who God is using, even in their own adverse circumstances. We find ourselves admiring our brothers and or our sisters in the Lord who face difficulties and triumph by reaching out to others. And, we should admire them as well rejoice as God is using the circumstance to infuse the Gospel into the deepest and darkest places of a man's soul.
Yet, everywhere I can turn my little head I see people all around in their own particular prisons. Some our self built. But, many more are in prison's of depravity, pain, loneliness, hurt and so on.. Even in our free country; we see this. My question for the church of Jesus Christ is; "What are you doing in your prison?" Jesus instructed; "...occupy till I come." [Luke 19:13] Occupy means to; take up space, engage yourself, to take possession or control of the place or situation. The opposite would be to; stay in bed, hide under the covers and lick our wounds. It's a choice we as humans, and as Christians make; on how we will OCCUPY ourselves while we are in this prison. I can hear the 'self-help' so called theologians grunting, or the 'Name-It-Claim-It' folks squirreling in their seats. Difficult times come, they are used to form us and grow us. But, it's not always about us either, it's about the souls who we encounter in the prison, i.e. your life at the time.
Read Genesis 40, how can we not agree that God had His hand on Joseph as he was in a very dark, damp and filthy prison. He was like a Prince in his father's (Jacob's) house; yet he was emotionally stabbed in the back by his own family, lonely, and misinterpreted by the people he did serve. Still yet, his one on one time with his God, proved his godly character. "But the Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy and loving-kindness and gave him favor in the sight of the warden of the prison." [Gen. 39:21] Joseph continued his ongoing walk with His Lord by reaching out to others.
God used Joseph WHILE IN PRISON! So many ask me as a minister; "Why do I have to suffer like this? What else am I to do?" Anymore, as I have been through my own (prison) times in life, I just answer with a deeper understanding; "I don't know, but I do know that now you are on a unique platform to touch and minister in a new light." Read Pastor Saeed's letter he wrote to us as he was (and still is) in prison last year; LETTER FROM SAEED ABEDINI. [CLICK LINK] God has used our brother and many more in their prison's. I also think of Joni Eareckson Tada [from
Theology of Suffering -click link) As she shared her story when she raised the same questions on why am I in this prison; God sent her a wise man of God who said; "God permits what He hates, to accomplish that what He loves." (Pastor Smith). As Joni's body is imprisoned being a quadriplegic, suffering tremendous pain daily and who even faced cancer; her voice and her ministry only has increased.
Jesus, was imprisoned, beaten and even murdered. What did He do in His prison? How did Peter, Paul, and the other Apostles in the New Testament 'OCCUPY' themselves in their prisons? They sought their Heavenly Father, they worshiped and they reached to others! Even in their sufferings.
|Pastor Brad Snowden suffers daily, yet|
IN ADDITION: Listening to one of my favorite Bible teachers today (Chip Ingram) he talked about Paul in prison. [Reference in Phil. 1] The emperor had 9 to 10 thousand troops of body guards called the Praetorian Guard.
They all had shifts of every 6 hours to be chained to the Apostle Paul. Chip asked; "What happens when you are chained to Paul?" They heard the Gospel, and thus the Gospel was spread to the utter parts of the earth.
You see; "Paul looked at his prison through the lenses of purpose."
Phil. 1:16 "The latter [proclaim Christ] out of love, because they recognize and know that I am [providentially] put here for the defense of the good news (the Gospel)." [HERE=PRISON]
v.20 "...now as always heretofore, Christ (the Messiah) will be magnified and get glory and praise in this body of mine and be boldly exalted in my person, whether through (by) life or through (by) death."
v.22 "If, however, it is to be life in the flesh and I am to live on here, that means fruitful service for me; so I can say nothing as to my personal preference [I cannot choose],"