When I see this photo of Petr—taken while still in prison—I see a Free Man. I see a man of kindred spirit with the Apostle Paul—a man who surely experienced an ounce or two of suffering. It seems either of these men could have written the words Paul penned in Colossians 1, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake…”
Early Sunday morning, I received word from two separate and very reliable sources that Petr Jasek, after a year and two months in a Sudanese prison, had received a pardon from the president of Sudan, al-Bashir. As I called to celebrate with friends and family, Petr was on a homeward bound plane, to be reunited with his lovely wife and children.
Even amidst the celebration, many people continue to ask me, “Why now?” and even “What does it all mean? Is God really in charge, and if so, why did this happen to a man going about God’s work to begin with?”
All of these questions are good, in that they offer us the opportunity to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord” (Philippians 2:12) which is just another way of saying, “think and feel for yourself, connect with God through you own life—not just doing and saying what someone else has told you—even when it’s scary and would be so much easier to follow someone’s rules.”
What I do know from both scripture and my personal life is that we must go down to come up, we must live to die, we must surrender to be set free. Jesus was so very controversial because he spoke, lived, and literally incarnated this paradox. Petr and his family stand as a beautiful reflection of this counter-intuitive truth.
While we are so thankful that Petr is physically free; we also know much lies ahead for Petr and his family. The first step will be to go to a hospital where he will be evaluated on his physical condition after such an ordeal. All through the process his family and their reunion will be supported by your prayers. Lastly, I ask you to keep up the prayers for Nuban Rev. Hassan Abdelrahim and Darfur Activist Abdel-Moneim Abdelmoula who remain imprisoned for “colluding” with Petr.
I come full circle to “I rejoice IN MY SUFFERING for your sake”. Let us pray for ourselves that we receive the message that was meant for “our sake”. “Are we willing to let the life of Petr and his suffering be for ‘our sake?’” “What has he shown us, not just “told” us?” “What do we learn and integrate in and through our lives?” “How might his—and others’—suffering change our lives?”