The Prison Power series will connect the stories of Biblical prisoners with stories of our brothers and sisters today to illustrate how God’s kingdom is built even through imprisonment. This post is an excerpt from Prison Power by Paul Estabrooks and Jim Cunningham. To download a free copy of the full book, click here.
Ahab was king of Israel, and he was evil. He was a murderer and a greedy, deceitful King – and he despised the Lord’s chosen prophets. In 1 Kings 22, the Bible records one particular story about Ahab’s interaction with a prophet.
Ahab was allied with King Jehoshaphat of Judah against the King of Aram. When Jehoshaphat advised seeking the Lord’s advice, gathered some 400 prophets and asked, “Shall I go to war?” “Go”, they answered, “For the Lord will give it into the King’s hand.” Jehoshaphat was unsatisfied and asked, “Is there not a prophet of the Lord here, of whom we can inquire?” Ahab answered, “There is…but I hate him, because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.”
This was the prophet Micaiah. And when he arrived, he had a simple philosophy for what to say to the King: “As surely as the Lord lives, I can tell him only what the Lord tells me.” Sure enough, Micaiah contradicted the other 400 prophets who had told the king what he wanted to hear. He told Ahab that the war would be a disaster.
The King was furious. Ahab said, “Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water, until I return safely.” Micaiah complied, but his last word to Ahab was a conviction that he spoke from the Lord. “If you ever return safely, the Lord has not spoken through me.” He was taken away and imprisoned, but Ahab never returned. He was shot down with an enemy arrow.
Prison Principle: Speaking the words of the Lord may mean persecution and imprisonment, but God’s truth ultimately prevails.
Ahmad was a respected Muslim leader and a brilliant scholar in Sudan. While studying for his doctorate in comparative religions he began reading the New Testament, and ultimately gave his life to Jesus.
Then in 1991, Sharia Islamic law became the law of the land in Sudan. Ahmad was called in for questioning. When he admitted to being a Christian, he was arrested, put in chains, and thrown into solitary confinement. His first night in prison, his execution was arranged – but unexplainably, the guards could find no gasoline for their car to drive him to the place of execution.
The next day, he was to be arraigned before the Islamic High Court. A lawyer friend urged him to renounce his faith publicly and just keep it secretly in his heart. Ahmad refused. “Jesus is my only defence,” he said. “I cannot deny Him.” As a result, Ahmad was sentenced to six months in prison, stripped of his military rank, and fired from his teaching position. His wife had already divorced him. He also lost his four children, his car, house, and bank account. The judges informed him that if, at the end of his sentence he still refused to return to Islam, he would spend six more months behind bars.
But in the prison, Ahmad organized small Bible studies and prayer groups. “By the end of three months,” he said, “there were 305 known Christians in our prison, at least seven from Muslim background.”
They moved him to a second prison where Ahmad and seven other Christians began meeting together. After a week, 50 gathered around a tree in the prison courtyard. Two months later, there were 115 believers, growing bolder and experiencing miraculous answers to their prayers.
Ahmad refused to tell the courts what they wanted to hear, choosing instead to stand by the truth of Christ. And despite the ruling against him, that truth prevailed in the midst of persecution, loss, and imprisonment.