by Grace Yost
Who is a captive? Perhaps you’re thinking of the one who’s behind bars of steel—but that’s not all. Satan holds billions of people captive—and only a fraction of them are in literal prisons.
Such are the lives of a young woman and a young man in this story. They both had a similar background, having grown up in less-than-ideal circumstances, which made them easy targets for the evil one. But the truth is that we’re all targets of his cunning ways.
How can we guard against his relentless attacks when he leads us down a path we didn’t intend to travel, and the dangers are not readily discernible? First, we must daily submit our lives to Jesus, who made the ultimate sacrifice for us by humbly leaving His throne in glory, His royal crown, and His robe, to come to this world. Here He ministered through love and humility, stooping down to touch the life of a perishing soul without ever sacrificing His principles.
This young woman had been in multiple foster homes, and when she turned 18 the state declared her an adult and dropped her off at a city park with her meager belongings! Now homeless, and experiencing what she describes as pure hell, she made a disastrous choice by mistaking a man’s attention in a local bar for love. After years of abuse, loneliness, and misery, she paired up with him, and ultimately they were both arrested.
Life in Prison
Have you ever considered what it might be like to be 21 and facing life in prison with no possibility of parole? Here are a few excerpts from a letter she wrote us after being convicted of murder:
“In the beginning, I didn’t really know what to think of my predicament. I was in shock, but slowly I began to grow bitter. Then one day I just broke down and cried in my bed, and for some reason I began to argue with God—I probably sounded crazy to the other inmates around me. I grew up fighting Him all my life, and you could say I had an enormous chip on my shoulder. Throughout my life I was taught the Scriptures and at 17 I accepted Him into my life and was baptized. I truly believed I was heading in the right direction and felt a touch of happiness. But that feeling was very short-lived, and soon I allowed Satan to take control of me.
“What an argument I had that night with God! When completely exhausted, I began to feel something I hadn’t felt in a long time: peace and comfort. I began to see what people were talking about when they said God knows how much you’re capable of handling.
“At first I fought the reins, believing that life had put me through too much, and this was too much for me to bear. But, I am still alive. I am here and going through this for a reason. And even though I don’t have a clue what that reason is, there is one. We’ll have different trials and tribulations, but it’s what we do with them that matters: who we meet, how we act—it all shows our true strength. I now see this life as a challenge and I want to finish it well. I don’t really understand what happens after I die, but I would really like to learn.
“Thank you again for all you’ve done, and please keep up the good work of ministering to everyone. God bless.”
This young woman’s journey with God has just begun, but let me tell you about a young man who has steadily climbed the spiritual ladder since he began corresponding with us over six years ago. His bad choice of friends led him to become a member of a gang, and after a murder happened he went to trial and was sentenced to life in prison, too. At the time he was first being charged, his girlfriend gave birth to a precious daughter whom he has not been able to see grow up. But look at these excerpts from the letters we’ve received:
“I lost my state court appeal, so prison is looking permanent unless the federal courts (God really) says otherwise. But I’ve come this far, and I’m mature enough to see the reality of the situation; I see more of others’ needs than mine. I’m right where God can use me, and I pray for those I can’t heal (those I’ve hurt), or apologize to.
“I’ve repented of my old sinful ways and genuinely acted out my salvation in spreading the doctrine of the Most High.”
These young inmates have sat at the feet of Jesus, but they’re on different rungs on the spiritual ladder.
Not an Option
Is Jesus calling you to reach out and touch someone who may be less than desirable in your sight? If so, you may need to sit at His feet and study His character more fully.
Complaints, criticism, and a judgmental spirit are tools of Satan. The tools of Jesus are a meek and quiet spirit. Pride and self-importance must not reside in the heart of a child of God. The Scripture tell us in Psalm 52:2, “Your tongue devises destruction,
like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.”
There have been times in my own spiritual journey when I took the words of Jesus too lightly, but those words have become the stepping stones that today allow me to minister to inmates too numerous to count. In my younger years I would likely have turned down such an opportunity, but God uses life circumstances to change us.
We are called by Jesus in John 13:34 to love one another, as He has loved us. This is not to be taken lightly; this is not an option if we’re seeking eternal life. In Isaiah 61:1 the prophet Isaiah calls on us to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. Jesus himself spoke similar words while speaking in the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth (see Luke 4:18).
Through the Eyes of Jesus
As I’ve prayed earnestly to see others through the eyes of Jesus, my eyes have been opened to my own shortcomings, and I earnestly desire to have the mind and character of Jesus. If we could truly discern the circumstances that surround each individual’s life, we would be far less likely to speak hasty, judgmental words, and would be possessed of a much greater love! Jesus, the Redeemer and Mender of broken people, willingly came to free all men and women burdened down by the ravages of sin.
Are we guilty of shunning the captives? Oh yes, it can easily happen when we’re in our comfort zone and see no need to step out of it. Our precious Savior had a marked love for the captives and less fortunate. Can we do any less?
P.S. 3ABN’s pastoral ministries department did send this young woman information on what happens when we die. Please join us in prayer for her, and all the others we seek to help.