Remember Those Who Are In Prison
I just saw the news that Asia Bibi has finally arrived safely in Canada. If you don’t know her story I encourage you to go here (https://www.christianpost.com/news/asia-bibi-leaves-pakistan-to-be-reunited-with-daughters-in-canada-reports.html) to read about her experience. She spent 8 years in a Pakistani prison for supposedly blaspheming Muhammad. After being released a year ago she has remained in Pakistan while her daughters sought refuge in Canada. She was detained there largely due to the fear that if she were released to travel to Canada, radical Muslims in Pakistan would riot and cause massive social and religious disruption.
Bibi is only one of thousands of prisoners who suffer unjust incarceration for no other reason than that they love Jesus and refuse to recant their faith or deny their Lord and Savior. Most of us go about our business every day without giving a second thought to brothers and sisters like Asia Bibi. We were more faithful in remembering and praying for Andrew Brunson during his imprisonment in Turkey, largely because he is an American church planter and missionary. So what is our responsibility toward these Christian men and women who suffer so horribly for their faith?
The answer is found in Hebrews 13:3. There we read this exhortation: “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.”
The author of Hebrews, whoever that may be, exhorts us all to be compassionate and sacrificial in reaching out to help both those who are “in prison” because of their faith (see Hebrews 10:34) and others who may not have been persecuted by being thrown in jail but in other ways have suffered greatly because of their faith in Christ.
When he exhorts us to “remember” them he doesn’t mean that all we should do is sit around and think about them or mention them during announcements on Sunday morning or even merely pray for them. He means to visit and serve and encourage and provide food and clothing and other comforts (see 2 Tim. 1:16-18 where Paul himself was served in this way by Onesiphorus). This is what we also see in Hebrews 10:33-34.
The phrase, “as though in prison with them,” is likely his way of saying: “If you were in prison, how would you want to be treated by the rest of the Christian community? Envision yourself suffering in this way and everything you would need and hope for, and then go and do likewise for those who really are in prison.”
But it’s not only those who are in jail because of their Christian faith, but also those who are suffering in countless other ways. They may have been beaten or stoned, as Paul was. They may have lost their jobs and are barely finding enough money to buy food. They may have lost their homes. They may be the object of slander and injustice in the court system. So never forget that you too are a physical being who could as easily be on the receiving end of precisely the same mistreatment.
Praise God for those who have labored for years behind the scenes to secure Asia Bibi’s release, many of whom also sacrificed greatly to help Andrew Brunson regain his freedom. Don’t forget them. Remember them. Pray for them. Visit them if possible. And give generously to those ministries that are working hard to help our Christian brothers and sisters in Pakistan, Iran, North Korea, China, and elsewhere in the world.