A Papier-Mâché Prison

April 28, 2012

by Maria Fontaine

Can I tell you about a long-term witnessing experience Peter and I have been having? It’s nothing that “wow” or something for which we can claim major victories; it’s just the day-by-day planting of seeds and praying that the Lord will water them.

We have been so grateful for the Lord’s take on this situation and for His encouragement in our ministering, because in this case, we haven’t seen quick and visible results. We enjoy our times with people, and we want to be sure that it will benefit the folks we are with by our giving to them in ways that will eventually lead them to know the one we represent. That’s why we always try to ask the Lord not only for specific steps to take along the way, but also for His take on the progress being made.

To give you a little background, we have had a substantial amount of contact with a man who Peter met while doing business. From the start he seemed drawn to us, and has spent a considerable amount of time conversing with Peter. In the course of those conversations he has shared his personal views on many things, including his views on places he’s lived around the world, politics, religion, and some very negative comments about churches and those who attend them.

Peter, and I, in the few times I was present, were able to share our personal experiences and our perspectives, balancing out some of the negative attitudes that he expressed. Through our personal example, explanations, and perspectives, we were able to paint a different picture—the positive side—of Christians and Christianity, and therefore, of course, God and Jesus.

We decided to invite him and his wife to dinner. In Peter’s and my times with the Lord beforehand, the Lord said:

This man is beginning to understand that who you are has something to do with your faith and love for Me.

Your dear friend is Mine. He’s so close to the kingdom, it’s almost touchable for him. And yet, the veil of disbelief, seasoned with doubt, stands between him and the great joy that is easily within his reach. That’s why I brought him across your path.

He is so close, so very close. And you, Peter, have been a key to bringing him to this point where he can easily break through that paper-thin wall of doubt. Remember the rice-paper panels that used to separate areas and rooms in Japanese houses? That’s what he has: a rice-paper variety of disbelief.

He desires the truth, but his vision is blocked. Show him that he doesn’t have to be bound by what looks strong and menacing but in reality is easily destroyed.

He doesn’t need good works; he doesn’t need preaching; he doesn’t need faith-building scriptures. He just needs a simple hand in his hand to lead him through this barrier to the truth.

Do you remember that story of a jail in a town in British Columbia, Canada, in the 1900s? It was used for many decades and never had a single breakout. Those inside never knew that one of the walls was nothing but thin wood and papier-mâché. It had been cleverly made to look like stone and iron. So although they were nothing more than a simple kick away from escape, those held there saw it as a solid prison. Their own minds and perceptions kept them bound in spite of the fact that there was no substance to what was holding them prisoner.

That’s this man’s state. Though his walls of attitudes and mindsets and rejection have no more substance or ability to bind his mind and heart than those paper-thin walls, he is still as shackled and imprisoned as if they were bands and chains of iron and walls of stone.

You just have to keep penetrating these walls of rejection, opening tiny holes of hope and truth with the touches of My Spirit and love until he finally realizes that his prison is constructed of nothing. It could happen tomorrow, or in six months. When it does happen, he’ll finally find himself bursting through into a whole new dimension, and the truth will truly make him free.

Our dinner with this couple was very enjoyable. Though our faith was evident, our time with them wasn’t a deep witness but a time of establishing a bond of friendship. Peter prepared a wonderful Indian meal, which both of them raved about. Our developing friendship with them seems to arouse their curiosity about that “something” that is different about us. They can sense it and seem to enjoy being around us, but they are still trying to grasp why they are so drawn to us.

As you’ve doubtless experienced, witnessing through building relationships is a gradual process. We can’t usually predict what the key to a person’s heart is going to be or when we will find it. Often we don’t even realize when some seemingly insignificant word or observation that we convey will be the thing that will move people that inch further in the process and will finally bring the tipping point for them. I believe every step is important. The combination of what is said and done, as well as each person’s own choices and heart determines how and when and where they will choose to take another step toward Jesus. We just have to be there, connecting with them and allowing the Lord to guide our conversations and our actions. We need to be prepared to give the support that will make it easy for them.

As you look around your day-to-day life, whatever situation the Lord has you in, I believe you’ll find those who are in this state: prisoners of attitudes and mindsets, waiting for someone like you who is open to the Lord’s guidance and filled with His Spirit. All it takes is being willing to share whatever you have, great or seemingly small. The tiniest keys can open the greatest doors with His love and truth. We just have to use what we have where we are and He’ll do the rest.

P.S. Just as a little point of interest, in case you were wondering if the somewhat bizarre account that the Lord spoke about in His message to us of the Papier-Mâché Prison is actually a documented event, here’s the info: The prison was at Fort Alcan, British Columbia, and the reports of this discovery were recorded in the May 9, 1946, edition of the Alaska Highway News and again in the October 5, 1946, edition of the Spokane Daily Chronicle. Sometimes fact can be stranger than fiction.