While in prison Paul wrote to the church in Philippi. He expressed thanks for the brothers and sisters in Philippi, and told them he prayed for them that they may abound more and more in love an knowledge and insight, and filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ. Then he said:
12Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
Every where Paul was – whether free or in prison – everyone he came into contact with learned quickly he was committed to Jesus and the advancement of the Gospel. It was so much so that even the ‘whole palace guard’ knew who Paul was and what he stood for, that is, his commitment to Jesus Christ. Paul loved even his captors.
Years ago there was a man (Dmitri) in a Communist country who was imprisoned for holding church services in his house. He was put in a remote prison that housed 1500 real criminals, men who were tough, hard, and downright mean. (Story paraphrased from The Insanity of God by Nik Ripken)
Every evening before bed, Dmitri raised his arms to Heaven, and sang his “heartsong” to the Lord. At first those who could hear him laughed and jeered and joked, but Dmitri was not deterred from worshiping even in his prison cell. Soon the jokes stopped, the jeers and laughter fell silent, as the love and commitment of Dmitri to his God became obvious and common knowledge among the prisoners.
Occasionally a prisoner would be taken from his cell, and, accompanied by two guards, marched out to never return. The prisoners knew they had been executed. No one ever returned from that walk, and no one was ever set free.
One day the two guards came for Dmitri. They began the walk down the long hall, a guard on either side of him, holding onto his arm. Dmitri knew this was the end.
Suddenly, 1500 hardened prisoners burst out singing Dmitri’s heartsong until the prison rang and echoed with voices thunderously singing praise to God who they knew, somehow, Dmitri still trusted, even facing death.
The guards were so astonished they jumped back from Dmitri; one asked “Who ARE you??!”
Dmitri replied “I am a son of the Living God, and His name is Jesus.”
In Daniel chapter 3 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. were brought before King Nebuchadnezzar because they did not worship the golden image the king had decreed everyone must worship. They said to the King :
17If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. 18But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
So Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego came out of the fire, 27and the satraps, prefects, governors and royal advisers crowded around them. They saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched, and there was no smell of fire on them.
Instead of taking Dmitri out to be executed, he was returned to his cell. Some time after that he was released. After 17 years in prison, he was free.
God is faithful; in life or in death, He is no different.