By R. E. Knodel, Jr., Pastor, Grace Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Lynchburg
November-December 1999 – As Christian student John Reyes enters his seventh week of incarceration in the Lynchburg City Jail for witnessing at a public high school, all heaven is breaking out! Satan wanted him in jail, and now the devil will simply have to deal with the consequences.
John says that any number of people have urged him to become a “trustee” of the jail, which would enable him to get out of jail a bit earlier. But he said he’s been telling them he doesn’t want to do that for two reasons. First, he doesn’t want to take a trustee position from another inmate who would have children waiting for that inmate’s release. (John’s not married and has no children.) Second, John said, “Pastor Knodel, I’m having such a great ministry in here with the men, that I don’t want to get out of jail a day earlier than necessary!”
My spirit soared to hear such testimony of this dear brother who’s incarcerated for Christ and His kingdom! I would have thought that by now he would at least be bored, if not scared and disheartened. But John has taken to this Christian persecution like a duck to water.
And he’s inflicting injury on the enemy! Within two weeks of his entry into jail seven men had prayed with him to receive Christ. These were not quickie, superficial prayers, but men who had counseled with John and confessed their misery and great need for forgiveness. One of them who had the street name “Homicide,” had intimidated the other men in the cell. But he came, like Nicodemus, late at night and spoke to John of his agony. Since the man’s conversion, he has allowed John to disciple him on a regular basis.
John has established both nightly Bible studies and discipleship classes in his 25- man cell. Over a dozen Bibles have been distributed to the men and more have been requested! About half of the original seven have left jail since the earlier days, but the Lord has replaced them with others. Nine men, more than a third of the men in the cell, attended the Bible Study last Tuesday. In late September a man named Matt who had been released at 5:30 a.m. walked an hour and a half to our church to join us for worship. He testified that the atmosphere of the cell had “totally changed” since John’s arrival.
When our judicial authorities sent John to jail, it was a great discouragement to me. I thought the AFA attorneys had done so much good, but that men’s evil had triumphed. But I have come to see the glorious victory of the Lord. Real revival has broken out in our city jail! God has brought about a hunger for His word in the jail.
In this case, men said, “John Reyes deserves to be in jail.” But that which they condemned, God has justified by His redemptive work within our jail!
Judge Richard Miller found John Reyes to be especially abhorrent. His penalty for a contrived trespass was much more severe than that for many felony convictions. He intended that John become a “byword” as the Bible says. But God continues to justify that which men, in their wickedness, have condemned!
We in Lynchburg continue to give thanks for the AFA Law Center. And we rejoice that in Christ, even when we “lose,” we win!"