Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison. . . . If any think that their influence would be lost there, and their voices no longer afflict the ear of the State, that they would not be as an enemy within its walls, they do not know by how much truth is stronger than error, nor how much more eloquently and effectively he can combat injustice who has experienced a little in his own person. Henry David Thoreau, ON THE DUTY OF CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE.
While this may seem foolish to the world - we have a serious mission. Men's lives are being destroyed in jail. It is a time of crisis for them, a time they are searching for answers. When inmates find out we are citizens of another government, their ears perk up. They know first hand how oppressive their government is. They are glad to hear about a heavenly government where the burdens are light.
When my wife Rachel went to jail, she shared the cell with prostitutes and drug addicts. Many of them were there, not because they had recently committed a crime, but because they violated some requirement of probation stemming from a crime committed years ago. They told her that once you're caught in the system's web, it is almost impossible to disentangle from it. When they found out Rachel was a citizen of Heaven, they gathered round her with their Gideon Bibles and searched the scriptures together. They huddled on the floor discussing Heavenly citizenship long after the lights went out. Rachel said it was her most receptive audience.
The secret that makes jail a worthwhile experience is to forget self. Yes, you are being inconvenienced. Yes, you have other work to do. Yes, you have been treated cruelly. But none of that matters. Your Commanding Officer has sent you on a mission and you are to do His will, not yours. The fields are already white for harvest. John 4:35 He has sent you as an insider to reach prisoners who desperately need to know the Truth that will set them free. To go to jail for Christ is an honor. Don't miss this opportunity to make conversions and change people's lives. You'll have opportunities to speak with the inmates, the jailers, judges, and prosecutors. Let God use you, tune into the Spirit and He will give you the words He wants these people to hear. When you find yourself getting depressed and downtrodden in jail, remember your mission. Take your eyes off self and remember your purpose is to testify of your King.
You have a lot of work to do in jail, but don't push yourself on them. Let the evangelism happen in God's time. He will prepare the way for you. If somebody wants to talk, then talk. If someone doesn't receive you, then back off. Feel it out, let the Spirit work with you. Jail can actually be a rewarding experience. Let the love of God dwell in your heart. Remember your homebase. Come back to homebase whenever needed. You may go down many paths, but keep coming back to homebase. Just because you're in jail, doesn't mean they can deprive you of homebase.
Your Heavenly citizenship is the foundation you build on. You are in a foreign country. You are not a State resident. You have no place to lay your head, because the world has claimed all the earth. And you are not of the world. You are not part of any worldly city, county or State. You are of the household of God. Heaven is your homeland.
Your home is in your mind. No one can take it from you. No matter where they put you, you homeland is still Heaven. One of our citizens made a sign, EMBASSY OF HEAVEN, and hung it on the bars of his cell. The jailers kept pulling it down, but he kept hanging it up again. Finally, the sign stayed up. That cell was no longer part of the world order. Our citizen had claimed it for Jesus Christ.
As long as you stand on homebase, they have no jurisdiction over you. They may try to move you off the mark, but keep coming back to your citizenship in Heaven. The victory belongs to those who stand until the end. You are not of the family of the world. You have no obligation to submit anything to them, they are not your guardians. They want a social security number? They want some health information? What for? They are not your caretakers. You belong to the family of God.
When you find yourself tempted to compromise, remember what Jesus said when Satan approached Him after 40 days of fasting:
"Away with you, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'"
After Jesus was tempted, angels of the Lord came and ministered to Him. When He came out of His fast, He did not receive His provisions from Satan. He received them from His own household, the angels of God. You are going to be doing exactly the same thing. Wait on the Lord - don't break down in the hands of the enemy. Your provisions will be made available to you when you are released from Satan's agents. And only when you are in the hands of the household of God, shall you be nursed back to health.
Jail is the war zone. You're on the front lines. Jail is no laughing matter. The spiritual warfare of jail will separate the men from the boys. The warfare will not be the visible, carnal kind. You will have no guns, no knives, only the Word of God. You will fight with handcuffs on, spiritual handcuffs. They will lash out and revile you, but you must always return love and kindness to them. Matthew 5:44 They will be bent on destroying you, but you must try to save them. You are expected to make conversions, not just of inmates, but of guards and clerks and lawyers. Their souls are in need of God as much as anyone's. 2 Peter 3:9
If you're called to join the front lines, then be a good soldier for Christ and put on all the armor. Then let Him refine and chastise you. Humble yourself. Be ready to learn and be born again. Return as a little child and accept His instructions.
Be joyful while you are there. Have a smile on your face. Invite the Holy Spirit into your heart. Do not worry or fret over what you will say or do. In the final hour it will be given to you. Do you know why? Because you are already living it. The preparation for jail is living a Christian life. That is your only preparation. If you are obeying Christ's commands, then the final hour is easy. You won't need to worry about what you will say or do. The words and power of God will be yours because you are His. That's why Jesus gave the instruction, "Let it stick therefore fast in your hearts, not once to study before, what ye shall answer." Luke 21:14 (Tyndale) How do Satan's agents know what to do? Because of the style of life they are living. It's easy for them. If you're living a Christian life, it will be easy for you, too. There is no mystery to it. It is God's doing - it is God working in you.
My prayer for you is that you glorify Almighty God. Glorify not yourself. But while you are glorifying Almighty God and glorifying the Son of God, the Son of God and God Himself will glorify you. Wait for His glory. It is not you that is doing this, but it is He that works in you. Do not forget that. They are Satan's agents, we are God's agents. We are His Body. We are the Body of Christ. We are the citizens of Heaven - they have no jurisdiction over us.