At the time, I thought it was the worst thing that would ever happen to me and I was nearly undone by the entire experience.
In February 1972, I was an overnight "guest" of the good people of Eureka County, Nevada, sleeping on an un-sheeted, blue tick mattress that was covered with numerous unidentifiable stains. The cot was situated behind chain link fencing, an exposed toilet, sink and un-curtained shower stall sharing the small space. Although I was fairly crawling out of my own skin after three days on the road, I did not take advantage of the facilities provided.
Thankfully, it was just an overnight stay. I wasn't under arrest as I had committed no crime. I was in protective custody because our vehicle had broken down on the highway, the sun was setting, and there was already one unsolved highway murder in the county and they didn't want another one on the books.
Even though I was the only female guest in the county jail that night, I wasn't alone in my incarceration. Danny was down the hallway, situated in a more traditional jail environment with actual bars instead of chain link fencing and it near to broke his heart to leave me in my cage to take his place behind those bars.
Even though I knew we weren't under arrest, even though I knew we would walk out the next day free as birds, I still cried myself to sleep that night.
It proved to be a valuable learning experience, however, and I'm thankful today for it. It has helped to keep me on the right side of the law. To my way of thinking, there is only one cause worthy of incarceration and that would be if it someday became illegal to follow the Lord Jesus Christ and confess him as both Lord and Savior.
Living in the United States, under the constitutional protection of the freedom of religion clause, I don't have to worry overmuch about spending any more time in the hoosegow. So far.
That isn't true in too many countries to name.
Iran was featured at the top of the news reports Tuesday, facing accusations that agents of that nation's government were part of a plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to the United States and wage an attack on the Israeli embassy here in the U.S.
However, many in the Christian community have been watching that nation for more than two years following the arrest, imprisonment and death sentence handed down to a young Iranian pastor, Yousef Nadarkhani. That sentence has been upheld by the Iranian Supreme Court and in late September, Nadarkhani refused to recant his faith in Christ and convert to Islam on four consecutive days. According to a source speaking to Compass Direct News, by refusing to recant on four consecutive days, Nadarkhani became subject to execution at any time.
He was arrested in 2009 after protesting the government's decision to teach the Koran to his son. He was subsequently charged with apostasy.
According to the American Center for Law and Justice, as of the afternoon of Tuesday, Oct. 11, the trial court in Iran is seeking the opinion of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, about his case.
Even considering my single, solitary night in that makeshift jail cell in Eureka, Nevada nearly 40 years ago, it is impossible for me to imagine how this young man, pastor, husband and father, bears the tension of his present reality.
Even if they are not jailed for their faith, believers around the world suffer many other forms of persecution. Evidence of some of those persecutions is revealed in recent stories about the Coptic Christians in Egypt. An Associated Press story on Tuesday, Oct. 11, read in part, "Witnesses among the protesters said the march started out peaceful but turned violent when the Christians were attacked by civilians wielding sticks, throwing stones and firing birdshot. What happened next is not fully clear. But a video circulating widely shows at least two military vehicle plowing through crowds of Christian protesters at high speed and running some of them over."
Christians in Egypt, representing approximately 10 percent of the population, have struggled for generations, eking out a meager living by reclaiming and recycling the population's castoffs. Now, they are in fear for their very lives, hard-scrabble though they may be.
I have always been grateful that God birthed me in the United States, under the banner of civil freedom so as to one day lead me to full freedom in Christ.
However, in this land of plenty -- and it is a land of plenty despite the financial woes and declining morals -- believers suffer a serious deficit. Because of our civil freedoms, we do not know any level of persecution, nor are we are equipped to deal with persecution should it come.
Tonight, and every night, across the globe, persecuted Christians will fall on their faces before almighty God, seeking strength and grace sufficient to whatever the morning brings. And, although the persecution continues, although every act of faith is fraught with peril, even unto imprisonment and death, God answers their prayers and so, the prayers are repeated.
Living in this land of plenty, with religious freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, we seldom fall on our faces before almighty God. We stroll fearlessly into our houses of worship, we put bumper stickers on our cars, we display our faith on our T-shirts and our jewelry and, we are oblivious to the blessed peace that comes to our persecuted brothers and sisters. They possess the tried, tested and true allegiance demonstrated by a young pastor, husband and father, awaiting his fate an Iranian jail cell, trusting God with each new dawn. May he continue to stand, even if he falls victim to his executioner. And may we somehow learn to pray with the passion that fuels his prayers -- with our prayers for him and for all who are persecuted for the Name above all names, my Jesus, the Christ, Risen and Returning Son of the Living God.
"Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." Ephesian 6:13 (NIV)
I don't have all the answers, but I know the One who does. Let's walk together for awhile and discover Him; together.