Captives No More!

May 11, 2019

by Maria Fontaine

A witness through stone walls and iron bars

A friend wrote me about a young man named Jake who is in prison. She had corresponded with him in the past and had just received a letter from him after a long period of silence. He sounded desperate, asking her to please pray for him because he was fighting to hold on to his faith in God—and even his sanity—in a very difficult situation.

My friend wanted so much to help him, but she didn’t know what to say. She wondered if I would be willing to help her write something. When I asked the Lord about this, He said, “Yes, I want you to write him, because he is so embattled at this time that he could be greatly impacted for the better by your letter.” I prayed fervently that I could express God’s love for this man and encourage him to hang on.

The letter turned out to be a bit lengthy. The Lord led me to add Bible verses to be sure it included the basics regarding eternal salvation, overcoming fear, etc. I didn’t think that he would mind the length, as he’s desperately wanting help and has the time for it.

Here is my letter, with some changes made to make it more general, in case you would like to share it with someone you know in prison. Be sure to use their name several times throughout in order to make it more personal.

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Hello! I want to tell you that I’m proud of you for fighting to hang on to your faith! It takes a tremendous amount of strength to stand strong when you feel hopeless and depressed, and you’re surrounded by so much evil and darkness. You can gain strength by remembering that the Bible says: “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4). That means if you have Jesus in your life, He is greater and stronger than any evil person or evil spiritual force in the whole world.

You’re God’s child. No matter when it was that you opened your heart to Jesus, He promised to be with you forever. If you have never received Him or you don’t remember doing so, I suggest that you pray a simple prayer, such as:

Jesus, I need You. I can’t see the way to go; please help me. I want Your presence in my life. Please come into my heart, forgive me of my wrongdoing, and fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jesus said: “Behold, I stand at the door [of your heart] and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20). He has promised to come into our lives and to fill them with His joy and peace, and eternal salvation, no matter what our circumstances.

Once you’ve invited Jesus into your life, He is there to stay. Nothing can change that. Even if at times you don’t feel Him there, He is. He will never leave you, ever!

(I’d like to share some Bible verses with you in this letter, as I’m not sure if you have a Bible. I would imagine it might be difficult to get a Bible, or maybe it’s been stolen. Or if you do have one, maybe you don’t know where to start reading it, so we can go over some verses right here.)

Jesus said:

“All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”John 6:37

“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”—John 10:28

The Bible says:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”—John 3:16

“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”—Romans 8:35, 37–39

“He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.”—Colossians 1:13

Sometimes the pain of all you have to endure is made more difficult when you feel so alone. But you are not alone in this terrible struggle. Jesus is there. He is with you every moment.

The Bible says: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6).

In addition, I believe God can bless you by helping you to find a friend there who can be a help to you spiritually and who you can help as well. Cry out to Jesus for this. Believe Him for a miracle, and trust that He will do it.

You might say, “You have no idea what it’s like in here. I am never safe! The men here steal, they lie, they beat you up. And sometimes you think someone is your friend, only to find out he’s just conning you, and he rips you off.”

You’re right. I don’t know what it’s like where you are. I can hardly imagine what you’re going through with the depression and feelings of hopelessness, abandonment, loneliness, and fear. However, I know that Jesus knows every bit of what you’re going through. He understands you completely, even better than you understand yourself. He loves you. His heart is pained to see you suffer, and He wants to help you. He wants to give you peace in place of your fear.

Jesus knows what it’s like to be arrested, locked up, and beaten. In fact, Jesus knows what it’s like to be condemned to death. He died on the cross, even though He was innocent. He did that for you, for me, for every person who has ever lived on earth. But you know what? He would have done it even if it were only for you. You are that important to Him.

You can talk to Jesus through prayer no matter what’s going on in your life. Even when you feel like all is lost, you can express what’s on your heart to Him. You can give Him all your cares and concerns, knowing that He cares for you. Jesus can give you insight and speak to you through the Bible, or with His still small voice that you hear whispering in your heart and mind. You can carry on a conversation with Him at any and all times, knowing that He’s always there for you.

Fear can be a major hurdle to get over, but here’s the good news! There’s no need to fear. There’s no need to fear even in the worst prison when you have Jesus. As you keep your mind on Him, He will keep His arm around you and will be your protector. If you make Him an important part of your life, you will see the difference. Things will happen and things will be different. You can overcome depression, bitterness, suicidal thoughts, and fear, even in prison.

When Jesus announced His calling in this life, He declared that He had come to heal the brokenhearted, to set the captives free, to rescue those who are bruised. Isn’t that wonderful? You fit into all these categories, and that is one of Jesus’ objectives, to truly set you free. You have certainly been a captive, bruised and beaten in heart and mind in the terrible place where you are. But Jesus has deliverance in the spirit for you whether you are in prison or out of prison, the freedom that He has promised to everyone who receives Him.

“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”—2 Corinthians 3:17

“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. So if the Son, Jesus, sets you free, you will be free indeed.”—John 8:32, 36

Jesus said: “Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.”—John 14:27

Here are some of the promises from the Bible that you can make part of your life:

“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you.”—Isaiah 41:10

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”—Psalm 23:4

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”—Deuteronomy 31:6

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”—Psalm 46:1

“Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.”—Jeremiah 1:8

God loves you so greatly that He has given all these wonderful promises in the Bible for you. However, you’re going to have to fight to keep trusting Him. You are going to have to choose to believe God instead of the devil who keeps throwing lies at you, trying to convince you to let him take over your mind with fear. No matter how hard it is and no matter how many times you have to say out loud or in your mind, “I believe You, Jesus, and I reject the devil’s lies. I trust in You to fulfill Your promises.” If you will do that, I know it will make a difference.

That’s how God’s promises work. They have tremendous power if you take them seriously. You can do this by reading them over and over and believing that God is speaking to you personally! Eventually you will likely memorize some of the promises, and then you will be able to remember them no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

God has made many, many promises to you, and they can support you when you feel like you’re falling. It sometimes takes time for God to work, but He does all things well. He uses everything in your life to eventually bring good to you if you believe in Him and are devoted to His purpose. (See Romans 8:28.)

Don’t give up! I know that things are very bad right now for you, even worse than I could ever imagine. But keep going, keep looking to Him, even when it takes your last drop of strength. You’ll need patience, which I know is not easy, and endurance, which is hard too. The Bible says: “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). He has His hand on your life, and no matter what may happen, He will be right there, helping you through everything, and ultimately working everything together for your good as you stay close to Him and love and live for him.

I know you’re in the hands of someone who loves you enough to take even the darkest points in your life and bring His light into them to give you hope and the courage to keep going. Jesus is a friend that sticks closer than a brother. (See Proverbs 18:24.) Concentrate on holding on to Him, and He’s promised to never leave or forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)!

Dear Jesus, this is Your child and he’s doing his best in spite of these nearly unbearable circumstances. He needs You. He needs the help of Your Holy Spirit. He needs all that You have to offer him. He needs the strength, the comfort, and the greater faith that the Holy Spirit can provide when things seem like they can’t get any worse. Help him to look to Your Holy Spirit, to seek the help he needs. He needs the strength, the wisdom, the boldness, and so much more that is his for the asking. (See Luke 11:13.)

He’s weary and feeling overwhelmed by the darkness all around him. He needs to see Your light. Please do something to give him hope. Please supply his needs, especially the miracle of a supernatural peace that can overwhelm the fear and the evil spirits that inhabit where he is forced to live.

Help him to sense Your protection around him. You said that when we pray, if we believe that we’re going to receive, we will have those things that we need. (See Mark 11:24.) Give him faith to believe. The way that he can get that faith is to study Your life in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the Bible and immerse himself in Your Word and Your promises. The Bible says that if we keep our mind fixed on You, we will have peace.

I pray that You will fill his heart and mind with that peace that goes beyond what we can even comprehend (Philippians 4:7). He can’t just walk away from these troubles and horrible situations, but he can find Your presence even in the midst of them. He can determine in his heart that he’s going to look to You and claim the help that You’ve promised him. Sometimes it will take everything he can muster; it will take patience and endurance, as his circumstances may not visibly change right away, but You are always with him. I pray that he will be able to feel Your love surrounding and filling him, that he will have grace, peace, and patience. I pray that he will grow in his knowledge of Your Word and that he will find satisfaction and joy in living a life of faith.

That is my prayer for you, my friend.

As a parting thought, I want to share one last truth that has been borne out in my life and the lives of many Christians who have faced very difficult struggles. In the depths of the worst situations, when you may feel like you don’t have any more to give, He can often reveal a wonderful blessing by placing someone in your midst who needs faith like you have. And as you try to help someone else, you’ll discover that God’s love grows stronger and more wonderful in your own heart. He blesses you as you lift someone else with the love, comfort, and hope that you are relying on. If you don’t know what to say, you could perhaps start by sharing this letter with them.

“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.”—Luke 6:38

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Brothers and sisters, I would ask you to please pray for this young man, that God will sustain his spirit and that he will be able to find the fellowship that he needs so that together they will be able to spread God’s light in that place of darkness.

There are so many Christians who have gotten on the wrong track and have been incarcerated because they have run afoul of the law. God can give them hope to go on and provide a way to be a blessing behind bars. Pray not only for this young man but others who you may know personally or have heard of. They desperately need to be upheld in prayer so they can learn to be a light to others. Pray with me that we can widely distribute this letter and that everyone who receives it will share it. As a result, I believe that entire prisons can be reached for Jesus.