And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear. Philippians 1:14
The Apostle Paul indicates that another reason why the gospel was actually advancing during his imprisonment was the bold courageous witness of other believers who had lost their fear.
Two Chinese itinerant evangelists who carried Christian books with them were arrested in Anhui Province during their ministry. The Public Security Bureau (PSB) put them in jail and beat them. The guard beat the face of one until it bled and then took his shoes away in the cold of winter. Then they poured cold water on him throughout the winter. He became deformed from the harsh treatment. Both were kept in jail for six months.
They had led two people to the Lord in that prison location before they were arrested, and when they were released from jail after six months, there were over one hundred new Christians in the area from the seeds that these men had planted. The two people that they led to the Lord spread the message to others. The work grew even while the itinerant evangelists were in prison.
In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, fourteen Christians continued their witness while in prison by reading scripture aloud. By the time they were released, they had read through the entire New Testament and forty-four inmates professed faith in Jesus Christ.
Pedro Pablo Castillo shares a similar situation in Nicaragua where half of the four thousand political prisoners became Christians. On the eve of their release, they prayed, sang and read scripture to celebrate their pardon. Castillo returned to the jail to urge them to let Christ shine in their lives whether in jail or outside.
We shared earlier about Pastor Tu in Vietnam—leader of the fastest growing house church network. Pastor Tu spent three years in prison for his evangelistic ministry. When he was released, he found his house church network had grown three hundred per cent during his imprisonment years.
I received a Christmas card from him the following year that read: “…God greatly gives our church 20,203 more new believers this year. Hallelujah!”
RESPONSE: God’s kingdom will advance when I overcome my fear and become a bold and courageous witness to the power of the gospel.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to trust You fully and become a dynamic force in boldly advancing the growth of Your church.