After spending 445 days imprisoned in Sudan on false charges that included “espionage” and “waging war against the state,” long-time VOM staff member Petr Jasek is finally home with his family in Prague.
For nearly 15 months, Petr was moved among five prisons in Khartoum, each worse than the last. Along the way, the Czech national shared a cell with drug smugglers, violent criminals and ISIS fighters, and he experienced physical and emotional abuse because of his Christian faith. Despite everything, he continually shared the gospel with Sudanese, Eritrean and radical Muslim inmates, leading several men to Christ.
Just before being released, Petr spent three days in a cell without running water. This, he said, challenged him more than anything. He was sleep deprived for three days, as guards banged on his cell door to keep him awake, and mice crawled across his bed and body every time he lay down.
Petr recited Philippians 1:12 as he considered everything he has endured: “Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel.”
“This is amazing how the Lord has used my imprisonment for spreading His gospel,” he said, “encouraging many believers, those who were prisoners for various reasons, but who dedicated their lives to Christ while we were there in prison and who are now serving the Lord.”
For more than 15 years, Petr has served persecuted Christians as a field leader with VOM, traveling regularly into the world’s most hostile areas and restricted nations.
While he lost 55 pounds in prison, an intensive medical exam following his release revealed no health problems whatsoever. Petr considers this to be a miracle. He didn’t expect this considering several fellow inmates had contracted malaria, and there was a cholera outbreak in the prison.
“Despite the terrible conditions, I did not get any serious illness,” he said after discussing how many others had malaria. “The Lord is really great and He is faithful.”
Authorities arrested Petr in December 2015 after he visited Sudanese Christians and provided a small gift to help with a man’s medical treatment. Three Sudanese men, Rev. Kuwa Shamaal, Rev. Hassan Abduraheem and Mr. Abdulmonem Abdumawla, also were arrested. Petr received a “life sentence,” which in the Sudanese system amounted to 20 years for espionage and four years for additional charges. Rev Shamaal was released on grounds of insufficient evidence. Rev. Abduraheem and Mr. Abdumawla remain behind bars, each serving a 12-year-sentence.
Petr saw evidence of the Sudanese church being emboldened by their circumstances in prison. Christian brothers and sisters from Khartoum, the Nuba Mountains and elsewhere in Sudan came to the courthouse during their trials. As police tried to prevent them from approaching the building, the believers sang Christian songs.
“While we were waiting for the court hearing, we were in the court prison and we could clearly hear the voices and we had tears in our eyes, especially the pastors from the Nuba Mountains, while we were listening to these songs behind some walls and barbed wire,” Petr recalled. “It was really great encouragement for us.”
Petr also found comfort knowing Christians in the United States were praying for him. He is grateful for all who prayed and fasted for his safety, health, ability to witness and release.
"I can tell you how important it is for a prisoner to know people are praying," he said. "I personally have made the commitment to the Lord that I will be praying daily for those who are prisoners, everybody, because it is so important. We all needed prayers from you."
Posted: March 6, 2017