Today marks the one year anniversary of the imprisonment of a pastor in a country called Uzbekistan.
We first learned of him while visiting Prisoner Alert.com. He was the only person featured in his country so we began writing letters of encouragement to him and praying for him.
A few weeks later, I pulled an old edition of a magazine off the shelf to go through with the kids; it's called Kids of Courage, and it is published by The Voice of the Martyrs.
A little girl, who looks to be Hank's age, was featured along with her sisters and mother because their faith remains strong and they continue to reach out the community around them despite the fact that her daddy was arrested and imprisoned for being a pastor. Her daddy is Dmitry Shestakov...the pastor we had been praying for.
Ella was particularly moved. The thought of there being a little girl out there who couldn't hug and kiss her daddy every day was just awful to her. And Ella is the one who consistently remembers to pray for Pastor Shestakov and his family, even pausing during our day to say a quick prayer, "Dear Lord, please bless Mr. Shestakov. Amen."
This anniversary is marked by some sadness. Being wrongly imprisoned for a year, with 3 or more years to go can be discouraging to say the least. He has missed a year of his children's lives. He has missed a year of laughter and love with his wife.
But we know that He who promised is faithful, and we may never know the full extent of Mr. Shestakov's witness...the guards who watch over him may be so moved by his faith that they, too, come to call on Jesus....their families may then follow....with their neighbors as well...his fellow prisoners may join him...we don't know.
But we can pray. And pray we do.