Please continue to Pray for Pastor Tim and his wife and children. 'The court has adjourned his case until July the 12th . This means that pastor Tim will most likely remain in the Remand Centre until this time.
Here is a copy of Pastor Tim’s most recent article while he sits in prison. (Copied from a news letter I received)
'Equipped with the bible, and in a cell 23 hours a day, you can read a lot of Scripture. Of interest, of course, are Paul’s letters written from prison. In fact, the Bible has much to say about imprisonment in both old and new testaments – something that stands out as I read it in my present circumstances.
One portion I want to draw to your attention is when Paul speaks about the shame of imprisonment in his second letter to Timothy. It’s no secret that Christians are divided as to how we should navigate such times. Pastors, like my self and others, are thought by some to bring great reproach and shame upon the church and our Lord. Others are not so sure what to think and so avoid speaking openly about it. I believe a similar reaction occurred when Paul was imprisoned by Roman authorities in his time.
Paul’s Letter to Timothy
After introduction and opening remarks, we come to the first command from Paul to Timothy in this, his second letter. “Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner,” (2 Timothy 1:8).
Paul has to encourage and exhort Timothy not to shrink back from declaring the gospel, nor think Paul’s imprisonment a stain or embarrassment. Why? Because Paul is in prison for Christ and his teaching. In the verses that follow, explaining the gospel, Paul says, “which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed,“ (2 Timothy 1:12).
So Paul regards his imprisonment is for Christ, and is himself not ashamed of his position in Christ.
Now why would Timothy be tempted to be ashamed of Paul? Why would Paul stress that he is not ashamed of his imprisonment. After all, hasn’t imprisonment for Christ been seen as glorious in church history? Why the shame?
Chains of Shame
The letter continues and Paul says “You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains” (2 Timothy 1:15-16)
This passage is instructive. Onesiphorus and his family were not ashamed of Paul’s imprisonment and continued to visit and encourage him, whereas others, including two men that Paul would have thought to stand by his side deserted him – presumably because they were ashamed of his imprisonment, unlike Onesiphorus.
So why would many be ashamed of Paul and leave him over his imprisonment? I would argue that the reason for the shame, and therefore a distancing with Paul, was because he had drawn the ire of the wider culture, but especially the authorities whom the culture respected.
In Acts 17, as Paul and Silas came to Thessalonica and caused no little disturbance the charges against them were clear: “they are all acting against the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, Jesus.” (Acts 17:7)
Here it is. The Christian profession, “Jesus is Lord,” will be problematic to a government that professes itself to be lord. Greeks, like Phygelus and Hermogenes, would have been raised in a culture where you honored and obeyed Caesar and they would have witnessed the consequences faced by political enemies. They could handle Jewish opposition to the faith, but here they are unable to handle their own culture’s shame. So they could embrace Jesus as Lord. They could handle Jesus as Savior. But when that made them enemies of the state – well, that was a line too far.
To be an enemy of the state would mean the loss of all comforts and privileges. Homes, lands, occupation, family, status, all gone. All of these came under the grip of the state and could all be lost.
Why else would we be ashamed of speaking truth? We are afraid of what we may lose. We may lose reputation; we may lose respect. We may lose friends. We may lose a promotion or employment.
Some things never change. Today, people are ashamed of those imprisoned for the lordship of Christ over his church because they are afraid to lose credibility, respect, and influence in the eyes of our culture and state.
When the government reflects the culture’s values – and ours certainly does – to be an enemy of the state will bring reproach. And bearing reproach and losing credibility and respect is something only a few – like faithful Onesiphorus – are prepared to do.
So let us not be ashamed of those imprisoned for Christ and his truth. Let’s be ready to suffer for Christ and his bride that he purchased with his own blood.