Workers —

Peace in a Prison Cell

Spiritual resources in solitary confinement.

As they threw him unceremoniously into a cell bereft of anything but a single dangling bulb, Robert recalled the wisdom of the pastors with whom he had been privileged to meet – those who had gone on to be murdered or executed by this regime for their unwavering faith in Christ. They had told him that he must always be ready to sacrifice everything for Christ, even his very life.

He had always known it could come to this, but his intense sorrow today was not at his arrest and imprisonment. Rather, it was that his two little boys had been witness to it. His faith in God was such that he had much to draw from. He knew the interrogations would be long, and perhaps painful, so in his mind he recalled how Jesus had saved him. When his friend became a Christian, Robert had difficulty believing that such an intelligent boy could be so taken in by Christianity. However, as his friend shared his testimony of God’s saving power, Robert asked Jesus to show Himself, and He did. 

Within one week, Robert became convinced that Jesus was the risen Christ. The visions and healings he went on to witness as a young Christian now encouraged his aching heart. A call to ministry among his Muslim Farsi speaking friends had been clear and he had pursued that with passion ever since. 


In the ensuing hours and days God, in His mercy, spoke directly to Robert in that cell saying, “I have brought you here”. A calm descended on his spirit, and He knew that if God had willed this then he could trust Him with family, friends, and his church members. For one long month he endured that small solitary habitat before being moved into a larger cell with two other inmates. The five–hour interrogations to which he was regularly exposed caused him to draw deeply from the disciplines of praying, fasting, reading, and meditating on God’s word and other books which had informed and encouraged him in his daily walk with the Lord. These practices had produced within him a level of intimacy with the Saviour on which he could now rely.  He knew that without that level of intimacy, what he was about to endure would be so much more difficult.

Over the next few weeks, he composed sermons in his head and preached them to the four grey walls in English. He prayed and tried to remember and recite all the many Bible passages he had committed to memory, giving thanks to God for every promise in His precious Word. He reflected on the experiences of others, who in the past had endured persecution, and their willingness to be vulnerable.  He remembered how even Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane displayed that human angst about the suffering which was to follow and allowed God to minister to him in his weakness.

He soon realised that on Sundays the atmosphere within the cell became quietly different. At first, he could not work out what had changed or why, until he remembered that on Sundays churches all around the world meet and pray for the persecuted church.  Prayer worked, and it continues to work for those who are still imprisoned for their faith.

On his release, Robert would come to realize that even more prayer was required for him and his family than during his time in prison. In this brutal regime, release from prison usually means loneliness with Christian brothers and sisters unable or unwilling to contact the released prisoner for fear of reprisal or rearrest. That lack of fellowship often causes a deep depression in those who are released, growing out of a sense of isolation far greater than that induced by a prison cell.

As we pray for those imprisoned for their faith, let us also remember to pray for those who are released. May our constant and fervent prayers fill their homes with a quiet peace just as they did within Robert’s prison cell.

Today, Robert ministers to Iranian Christians, offering therapy and counselling to those who need it as well as continuing to use his gifts in teaching and translation. 

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