A Prisoner of the Lord
It was the missionary’s custom to preach the Gospel every Lord’s Day from 3 to 4 p.m. on the steps of the Liberty Statue in the main square of Potosi. Occasionally a colonel stopped to listen and then passed on. One day the colonel called him aside to warn him of coming violence on the part of the police if he did not desist from preaching in the square. (The cathedral was near the Liberty Statue, and the vicar was not very pleased with his preaching the gospel there.) He thanked the colonel for his concern as to his safety; however, because the constitution in Bolivia prescribed liberty of worship, he felt he would rather suffer persecution than give up the privilege of making known the story of our Lord Jesus and His love for the lost.
Sure enough! The next Lord’s Day the persecution began. The missionary had just finished preaching the gospel when a police officer appeared. Drawing his sword, he ordered the missionary to “March!” Upon questioning the officer as to where he was being taken and why he was arrested without a judicial order, the reply was a harsher order to “March immediately!” He was taken to the police station and roughly shoved into the inner prison by one of the guards. It was a cold, bleak, and dirty room with just a small hole in the wall through which some light filtered—no bed and no food.
He remarked later that he would never forget the experience. When the huge steel doors closed behind him, he fell on his knees and prayed, “Lord Jesus, I am not a prisoner of the State but a prisoner of Thine. Thou alone canst free Thy servant from this dungeon. Thou didst deliver Peter—Thou canst deliver me.” Well, the Lord lives! Praise His Name! “It is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22,23). On the next day he was brought up from his cell to the office of the chief of police. Imagine his delight to find the colonel waiting there for him. Evidently, he had missed his friend; also, the missionary’s wife had told him that her husband had not come home all night. He quickly went to the police station and ordered them to bring his friend out of prison immediately. He asked him what he was doing there. The missionary answered quietly, “Sir, I am a prisoner of the Lord Jesus Christ for preaching His precious Word.”
Quickly turning to the chief of police the colonel asked, “Why is this man arrested? What has he done?”
All the chief could say was, “He is a perverter of the peace of this city, and the vicar said he should be expelled to Uruguay. Besides, he is a troublemaker and opposed to the government of this country.”
Taking the matter over the head of the chief of police, the colonel said to the young missionary, “You go straight home to your wife, and I shall look after you.” This he faithfully did. He ordered a soldier to go home with him to guard him and to be present at the meetings in order to report to the colonel any danger that he might think the missionary to be in. The missionary expressed his profound gratitude to the Commander of the Southern Army for his faithful care of him. He hurried home to his dear wife who was waiting patiently and watching anxiously at the window, where she had watched for him ever since he had gone out two days before. Weeping on his shoulder she said, “Honey, I am so afraid that your enemy (the vicar) will yet do some harm to you.”
He comforted her by saying, “Never mind, dear, we will continue to pray for him, that the Lord may humble him and convict him of his need of the Savior.” Someone had told his wife that it was the vicar of the cathedral who had had her dear one arrested. For nearly a year they and some of the young men in the meeting prayed for the vicar, and their prayers were rewarded, as we shall see later.
Meanwhile a revolution broke out, headed by this same vicar. The president of the land was put out of power by the army and replaced by another president. For this the vicar was made a bishop and transferred from that state to another.
The Lord surely hears the prayers of His own. Two years later it was published in the newspaper that the bishop had thrown off his robes and become a “heretic.” What had really happened was that the Lord had shown him mercy and saved him from his sins! This happened through his reading the small booklet of the Gospel of John which the missionary had given out all over the city before he was arrested. At that time the vicar was supposed to have destroyed all he could gather up—all but one which he had slipped in his pocket to read later on privately. The Lord used this booklet to save his precious soul. What grace! Persecution broke out against him, and ultimately, he had to leave the country. How wonderful is the grace of God! “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (John 8:32,36).