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Adventist Mission


Setting Prisoners Free

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, August 19.

By Andrew McChesney


hristopher was very disappointed when he went with his wife to an evangelistic meeting in Poland. His wife had told him that the preacher always showed a short video as part of the presentation, but this time he didn’t. Christopher was very upset.

At home, he shouted curses at his wife. It was the last straw for her. “Tomorrow, I will leave and take the children,” she said. “This house has never heard anything positive from you.” Before going to bed, she looked pitifully at Christopher. “I have never heard you pray,” she said. “Why don’t you pray to God? Only He can change your heart.”

Christopher cursed his wife and went to bed. But he couldn’t sleep. Later that night, he got up, went to the kitchen, and started to talk to God. “I don’t know if You exist, but I’m a very bad person,” he said. “I hurt my dear wife and my children. I drink alcohol. I don’t want to live like this. Can you help me?”

He spoke to God for 30 minutes. But he didn’t hear a reply.

In the morning, Christopher took the bus to work. On the bus, he met friends, and they started talking. They always used profanities, and this was no exception. But for the first time Christopher didn’t like their language. He wondered what was wrong with him.

At work, Christopher and his coworkers pooled their money as usual for drinks after work. But Christopher didn’t drink this time. Instead, he went straight home “Lord, stop my wife from leaving,” he prayed.

At home, his wife had packed three suitcases and was ready to leave with the children. “Honey, give me one more chance,” Christopher said. “Can we have a new start?”

She stopped. “OK, I will give you one more chance,” she said.

The next day, Christopher went to the preacher at the evangelistic meetings. Between puffs on a cigarette, he said, “I want to be baptized. My wife plans to be baptized on Friday, and I want to join her.”

The preacher knew that if he refused, Christopher probably would never ask to be baptized again. He prayed silently, “Lord, what would You do if Christopher asked You?”

“I know that I’m smoking,” Christopher said. “But I promise that I’ll quit on Friday.”

On Friday, Christopher said, “Pastor, I haven’t smoked since getting up this morning.”

The preacher wondered what to do. He wondered what church members would think. He decided to take a risk. He baptized Christopher with his wife.

The preacher wondered what would happen next. He didn’t have long to wait.

Not long afterward, Christopher confided that he had gotten into trouble with the law as a young man. He said he wanted to witness to other young men in prison.

The preacher had been born into a Seventh-day Adventist family and had never had any contact with young prisoners. He didn’t know how what to do.

“Don’t worry,” Christopher said. “I can ask the prison warden for permission to visit.”

“OK, I’ll go with you,” the preacher said. Silently, he prayed, “Please help me. I don’t know how to act around prisoners.”

The prison warden spoke firmly and directly.

“You have one chance,” he told the preacher. “If your sermon is boring and someone tells you to stop, you can’t come back.”

The preacher prayed even more. “Lord, this is a hard challenge,” he said. “Help.”

On the day of the sermon, young men wearing identical clothing filed into the room. They looked bored. The preacher sensed that he needed to change his sermon immediately.

“Friends,” he said, “do you know why I came here?” He pointed to Christopher. “Because this man was like you when he was a teen. Christopher, can you come up?”

Christopher stood up. “Friends, I understand you,” he said. “I lived here. I wasn’t the best teen. I’ve done some pretty bad things. I once tried to escape from this very prison and look at this” — he stretched out his wrists to show scars where he had tried to commit suicide. “But, praise the Lord, someone saved my life. Today, I came to share good news. When you are released from prison, you can do what you were doing before, or you can change your life and live for God. I invite you to choose God.”

After that day, Christopher and the preacher visited the prison many more times. A Polish television crew even followed them in, and the young prisoners told the crew, “We are so thankful to the Seventh-day Adventists for visiting us. They brought the Bible to us. We never had the Bible before. We are learning about Jesus, salvation, forgiveness, and the opportunity to start a new life.” The prisoners’ words filled Christopher and the preacher with joy.

“This was very important to us,” says the preacher, Ryszard Jankowski. “God can give us a new life. It doesn’t matter what you have done. God gave Christopher a new life, and He can give you a new life, too.”

Thank you for your Thirteenth Sabbath Offering in 2017 that helped build a television studio for Hope Channel Poland. The preacher in this story, Ryszard Jankowski, is today the president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Poland and is a regular speaker on Hope Channel Poland, the local affiliate of Hope Channel International.