I just finished reading a powerful book about the suffering of a Christian man imprisoned in Sudan for 445 days. While I understand the concerns of Christians here in our country that we might lose some of our religious freedoms, I had to once again see that we have no idea what real persecution for the cause of Jesus Christ looks like.
Petr Jasek,, a citizen of the Czech Republic and an aid worker, made a trip to Sudan in December 2015 to see what Christians could do to help their fellow Christians suffering at the hands of the government of Sudan. After meetings with local pastors and other Christians he was at the airport getting ready to return home to his family when he was detained for questioning by Sudan security agents. They took his computer, phone and camera and charged him with espionage, waging war against the state and undermining the constitution.
After hours of no sleep and repeated interrogation, he was taken to prison and placed in a cell approximately eight feet wide by fourteen feet long. There were already six men in the cell with only one bed. The five men without a bed slept on mattresses on the floor. The only space he had to lay his body down was next to the entrance to the bathroom. The shower was completely broken and the Western-style metal toilet was covered in rust. He saw a hose coming out of the wall for water but soon discovered that the water was only on once or twice a day.
I can’t imagine the stench of the room with seven men crowded together and no real facilities to maintain cleanliness.
Added to that horror, he soon discovered his fellow inmates were ISIS fighters. Although Sudan is an Islamist government, they did not want ISIS to find a home in their country because they were afraid they would win the people’s allegiance and their own control of the country would be lost to ISIS leaders.
He first realized who he was sharing his cell with when he was awaken at 4:30 a.m. by the call to prayer. The men in the cell rose to their feet and began their morning prayers. He was told that when they prayed he had to wake up and stand in the back corner of the room where they would not have to face him.
Since they had no access to news on the outside, they asked him to share the latest news. He immediately thought of the terrorist attack that had taken place in Paris earlier in November. At the mention of the death of 129 people, he was shocked when they at first became very silent, then began hugging one another and shouting with great joy “Allabu Akbar!”
After weeks of imprisonment he was set for a trial. While waiting for his trial he was moved several times to different prisons and different cells. Toward the end of his imprisonment he was able to share a cell with fellow Christians.
After delay and delay he was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. A fine of 100,000 Sudanese pounds ($17,000) was also imposed on him.
For most of us I am afraid we would have been crying out to God “why me?” Petr came to the understanding that his time and his life were in the Lord’s hands. With confidence that God was still in control regardless of how hopeless things looked, he began finding opportunity to share the Gospel with other prisoners and with his guards.
One of his greatest joys while in prison was when he was allowed to have a Bible. He said
The Word of God is not chained – even when God’s people are. The Scripture is alive and active, and when I began feelings its activity in prison, I would not keep it to myself. The Lord began prodding me to share the Gospel with my fellow prisoners – nominal Christians, animists, and even Muslims….In prison I truly learned to love my enemies. I still pray for the ISIS prisoners and I pray that many Christian prisoners in Sudan might have the opportunity to share the Gospel as well.”
Thankfully the Czech government and Christians around the world continued to intercede for Petr and he was released in 2017 after 445 days.
This story is one worth reading. “Imprisoned with ISIS – Faith in the Face of Evil”.
The book is worth taking the time and money to read but you can also check out his story at
Christian aid worker says time in Sudanese prison allowed him to share Gospel
Next time I hear someone complaining about how we are persecuted in this country for being a Christian, I will just remember Petr’s story and say God help us if we ever really have to suffer persecution.