A Door in the Darkness
Excerpt from Chapter 16
From A Small Price to Pay
2: God provides
4. Obey God?
8. My Father
Being transported from temporary prison to temporary prison was not easy. The prisons were often overcrowded and filthy. Once I stayed in a prison that had over six inches of wet, slimy waste all over the floor. The prisoners had placed their soup bowls upside down to make a way to walk to the toilet from the bunks. People were sick and coughing, and it was a miracle that we did not all catch a disease and die from the horrible conditions.
But it was not the bad food and the lack of sanitation that bothered me the most. It was the conduct of the prisoners themselves. Nothing was too vile or evil for them. Their language, their attitudes, and their actions were extremely difficult to bear. We were all crowded together—murderers, thieves, arsonists, and political prisoners. The toughest of the bunch were always out to assert themselves and bring the rest of us under their thumbs.
One night, a strong young man was thrust into our already crowded cell. He was a loudmouth, filling our cell with his bragging.
That evening, when I knelt to pray before I climbed into my bunk, I felt him watching me. When I was finished praying, he watched me as I lay down. Then he walked slowly over to me. In a loud voice, he taunted, “So! We have a holy man with us. Hmmm.” His tone was sinister, chilling me.
He motioned another young man to him and said something in a low tone. Then he addressed me.
“Where have you hidden your gold?”
“I don’t have any gold,” I answered.
“Ha!” He laughed loudly. “We don’t believe that. You are a holy man, and you were not put in prison for nothing! You must have
embezzled church money.”
I shook my head. “No, it is not for stealing that I am in prison. I am here because I preached about God.”
“Yeah, right!” Cursing, the young man leaned over me menacingly. “Say what you will. No one is put in prison just for speaking about God. You are hiding the true reason you are in here. I know you priests! You grow fat from the coins that you extort from the people, and then you become rich.”
I understood then that he thought I was an Orthodox priest. “I do not go to the Orthodox church. I am a minister, but we do not get salaries for the church work we do.”
“We will see if you tell the truth,” he bragged. “You will tell us where you have the money hidden. We can search you in here and find it.”...
The strong young man grabbed a towel and twisted it around my neck. “Tell us where the money is!” As his accomplice held on to the other end, they began twisting the towel and pulling it tight.
I felt my throat being squeezed tightly. “Lord, if this is the way I am to die, then let me die. I pray for my wife and the boys. . .“ My lungs were screaming for air. The pressure around my throat was terrible. I lifted my hands toward my neck, but someone hit my arms away.
I felt myself begin to black out. Then blackness swept over me....
When I regained consciousness, I was still lying on my bunk with the towel around my neck. There was no one standing over me. I shifted my head and saw the group of men playing cards. I sat up and rubbed my neck.
“Here is your towel,” I said, and tossed the instrument of my torture toward them. They looked at me, cursed, and resumed their game.
Evidently they had searched me after I had passed out. At any rate, they did not molest me any further that night.
The next evening, the same group approached me again. “Holy man, what can you do? Can you conduct services here in prison?”
I looked at them. Were they mocking me? “Yes, I can sing and pray here in prison.”
“Then begin. Show us what you can do.”
I looked through the smoke-filled room. “How can I do anything when the air is filled with smoke?”
It is common for prisoners to make chifir in prison. This is made with black tea, boiled until the thick goo is so concentrated it acts like a narcotic. To brew chifir, the prisoners burn their socks, underwear, or anything else they can get their hands on. The resulting smoke in the cell is suffocating.
The leader yelled to the others. “Put out the fires. Stop smoking The holy man is going to speak.”
Every eye was on me. The leader glared at them until, one by one, they put out their fires....
I began to speak. Since I was fairly sure most of them knew the Lord’s Prayer, I spoke about the prayer, line by line. I was amazed how quiet everyone became. They all listened respectfully.
All evening, I spoke about God. I told them how He loves us. I told them what God hates. In fact, I spoke until ten o’clock when the call for curfew made us go to our bunks.
The next evening, they asked me to speak again. I spoke for four hours. Incredibly, this continued for three weeks. I knew that God had opened this door for me. Every day I wondered how I could possibly speak for the entire evening again. But each night, the Spirit was faithful and provided topics. I quoted the Scripture verses I knew and used them to introduce the subjects I spoke on.
They didn’t all listen every evening. Some of the men lost interest and began to play cards or occupy themselves in other ways, but many of them listened. Sometimes I began a subject late in the evening just before curfew. Then, when we were told to go to bed, I would tell them I would continue the topic the next evening. This worked well to pique their curiosity and maintain their interest.
Since this was a transit prison, prisoners were constantly taken out and new ones brought in. But every evening, the young man who had tortured me made everyone quiet down and gave me a space to speak. When I was finally transported to the next prison, many of the men spoke kindly to me.
When I thought back to my first night in that cell, I understood that the torture I had gone through was a small price to pay for the privilege of preaching for three weeks to the ungodly men. I prayed that somehow the seed I had sown would bear fruit.
"For our light affliction, which is but for a moment [in light of eternity], is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal." (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
In a world that is fast rejecting God's Word or twisting His Truth, we need to prepare for unthinkable challenges to our faith and families. This book will help us stand firm in Christ and gratefully "pay the small price" of suffering with Him!
I suggest you order at least ten of these books and share with your friends and relatives, so that they, too, may be encouraged and equipped for the times ahead. (That's what I did)
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