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Topic: Rejoicing (11/22/04)
TITLE: Praise in Prison
By Allen Duty
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“SIT UP STRAIGHT!”, a voice screamed at him, no more than eighteen inches behind him.
If Jim wasn’t strapped to the chair, he would have jumped through the ceiling. He had no idea there was still someone in the room with him.
Jim had been arrested yesterday morning for sharing the good news of Jesus Christ with an undercover agent in the south side of Philadelphia. A few months ago, the United States government passed a law making it illegal to discuss anything pertaining to religion outside of approved centers of worship. Christianity was deemed to be the most dangerous of all religions practiced in America. As a result, the government closed down any church that would not allow the government to install an official who was regarded as compliant with the new policy. In addition, the executive branch mobilized a division of the Central Intelligence Agency that would act as the enforcers of the new law. Their job was to gather information on anyone who was thought to be breaking the law, arrest them, and “educate” them on the importance of tolerance in America.
“Lean forward,” grunted the man who stood behind him. Roughly, he began to unfasten the latches that held Jim to the wooden chair. He grabbed Jim under his arms and forced him to stand. Taking him by the shoulders, the guard spun him around and pushed him forward. The door to the small questioning room swung open, blasting him with cooler air from the corridor outside. Though his back was stiff from being strapped to the chair for so long, Jim was grateful to be standing up for a change.
The guard pushed Jim through a series of hallways that seemed to go on forever. They finally stopped, and the guard swiped an electronic key card that opened a metal door in front of them. With a warning not to move, the guard unlocked the cuffs that bound Jim’s hands behind his back. Pulling the cloth off of his eyes, he gave Jim a hard shove into the room and slammed the door.
Though the room was dimly lit, the light made him squint with pain from being blindfolded for so long. Once his eyes adjusted, he surveyed the room. There was no bed, only a small blanket no larger than a bath towel tossed in the corner. A few feet away from the door, there was a metal plate with a biscuit and a package of crackers on it. Rubbing his forehead, he sat down next to the plate and let out a long sigh. He was relieved to finally be alone and out of the immediate watch of the guards. He picked up the plate and praised God for His provision.
Jim remembered the words the apostle Paul wrote from prison: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am . . . I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:11, 13). With a lump in his throat, Jim began to sing hymns to the Lord. Though the walls of the holding room kept him from family and friends, they could never keep him away from His Lord and Savior.