TESTIMONY: I had nothing, I lost everything!
May God bless you all! I am glad you take time to read what I write. As you well know from my messages posted so far, I am in Botosani penitentiary. Not very many things happen here, but when something happens and I’m convinced that God did that something, I do everything possible to let you know about it, for the praise and glory of God.
Vladimir Nedelea at „Betleem” Dorohoi Church, 18.XII.2016
This is what I did this time. I talked to Vladimir, my inmate colleague and brother in Christ, for a few hours every day (actually, during the 3 Christmas days). I wrote down what Vladimir told me about his life. And I put this extraordinary testimony in the form of an interview. I hope the following will benefit the readers.
Tell me please, for the readers of this letter, a few things about you. Your name, where are you from, how old are you?
My name is NEDELEA VLADIMIR, I am from Dorna Candrenilor, Suceava district and I am almost 40.
Tell me, please, what were you arrested for and what sentence you serve?
On Sept. 29, 2009 I committed the deed I was arrested for the next day, and 9 months later I was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
I asked you these things so that the readers get to know a few things about you. Now, I would like to find out a few things from your childhood and and youth years, spent in your hometown. Of course, if you agree with it and want me to write about those things.
Of course, it brings me pleasure to remember those times, nice times but also with a lot of work, especially during the summer. At 11 years old I went in the mountains with my father, who owned a sheepfold with a few hundred sheep. Since that summer until I was arrested, for 20 years I spent every summer on the mountain watching the sheep.
What memories do you have about those years you described as “nice”, but with lots of hard work?
All my childhood and youth I wandered through Dornelor Mountains, from Tatarca- Poieni Until Suhardului Mountains, from Ousoru until the border of Transylvania, to the Lake Icoana. Also, part of those years I spent on Ascutita Mountain; during the summer watching sheep, during the winter working in the woods, cutting wood.
A lot of work, but also a lot of satisfaction.
Describe to me you daily life before you got arrested.
A normal life, as I already said. The summer spent at sheepfold, the winter working in the woods.
Tell me, please, a few things about your entourage…the friends you spent your free time with.
There wasn’t much free time in my work. I used to take a break during religious holidays, when I drank a lot.
Vladimir: I was a well-known alcohol consumer, but it wasn Have you been a heavy drinker of alcohol? (Vladimir smiles and looks ashamed.)’t always like that. In the beginning, I drank occasionally, then it became a habit. But this habit transformed me little by little, into a person I could not recognize anymore.
What do you mean by “a known alcohol consumer” and that it transformed you?
Normally, I was a calm, peaceful, friendly person. After consuming alcohol, I was transformed into an aggressive, fighting man. Many times, after such a time, when sober I could not remember too much of what happened during my drunkenness.
So, drinking has caused you a lot of trouble?
When I got under the satanic influence of alcohol I remembered all of those who troubled me. So, with my mind filled with alcohol, I created many incidents, fights, and troubles. Of course, all of them started by myself. Lots of money I worked hard for were paid on fines, or as a payment in order to get all right with the victims, or pay their hospital bill.
Vladimir: When I was sober, I was a hard working guy who kept his word. Everyone loved me. But after I consumed alcohol, I became that mad guy that everyone in the village feared. Should I understand you had double personality?
I’m glad I know the good Vladimir, the one you are now (we both smiled). Praise the Lord! Amen!
Please tell me now about the circumstances of your arrest, what you did. I know these moments are tightly linked to the alcohol addiction you had for the last few years.
Everything started from an older conflict with a man from my village, which was actually started a generation ago, by our parents. It was about a piece of a road that came down the Ascutita Mountain, and was passing on the property of this man, who later became my victim.
So, it was an open conflict between you and another man from Dorna Candrenilor?
Yes, you colud say so. But it was really becoming a conflict only when one of us was drunk. It became routine for years, when I entered a bar and he was drunk and I wasn’t, I would live the place, and he was also avoiding me when I was drunk and he was sober.
But you never asked yourselves what could happen if you met when both drunk? (The look in Vladimir’s eyes became serious and sad)
This exact thing happened in the evening of 29.09.2009. Returning from the woods, where I worked, I stopped at a bar in my village. Though I had quite a lot to drink that day, I stopped at that bar, close to my house, to drink some more before going to sleep.
I vaguely remember being in that bar at a table, by myself. The man I was having that old conflict with entered the room, and when he noticed me, he started coming my way threatening me. The moment none of us was waiting for has arrived. The devil created the perfect situation when two enemies face each other, with their minds filled with alcohol and their hearts filled with hate. In a matter of a few seconds, blinded by a huge hatred, I pulled my pocket knife and hit him once, in the chest.
Then, to my surprise, he turned around towards the door and left without saying a word, and no one in the bar noticed what happened. We were in a space for smokers and no one else was there.
What did you do after that?
I went on drinking, and after that I went to the house of someone I knew and slept there overnight. I was exhausted after a day of consuming quite a lot of alcohol.
How did you find out about what happened the previous night?
After I woke up from drunkenness, around noon, I found out police was looking for me. I didn’t know what for, but I found out when two homicide officers took me in for a declaration. When we got at the police station, I was asked if I had a conflict with the man I stabbed the previous night. I said yes, and they asked me if I stabbed him. My answer was affirmative. Then one of the officers asked me “did you know that person died? At first I couldn’t believe it, I thought they said it only to scare me, but a few moments later ~I realized it was true.
How did you react when you got that news? What thoughts crossed your mind?
It’s been 8 years since that moment, you surely cannot do anything now to bring back that man. But, if we could replay the time back, what decisions could you take to make your life different today?
The way I see things now, after so many years, I believe my life could have been different, if I took the decision to follow the Lord, when I had the chance to do that, when a friend took me to an evangelistic evening at the evangelical church in out village.
Should I understand that God called you to repentance before the accident happened?
Yes, God in His goodness has sent people in different situations to talk to me about His plan and about salvation that comes through faith in His only Son, Jesus Christ.
What was the reason you refused to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in your life? What kept you away from this decision?
There were several motives, I believe the entourage and advice of so-called friends, who said the “repenters” are lost, that it is a sin to change your religion, and you should die keeping the forefathers faith. And, ever since I was a child, I remembered the priest in the village saying that it is a sin even to shake hands with a repentant, or to receive books from them. Words like that, combined with alcohol, kept me away from the truth.
Personally, I understand you perfectly. Even today such words are being spoken about people who want nothing else but be obedient to God and share with others the truth of the Scriptures. Arrest followed, trial and 8 years of prison until today. How did you live through these times and what happened during the years spent here?
The guilt of a murder pushes hard, as a large stone, on the soul of the guilty one. However tough the murderers try to look, I tell you from my own experience they don’t sleep well at night and that how it should be. I was imprisoned in Botosani for 15 years to serve. Then I was transferred to Bucharest, at Rahova penitentiary. I was there for 5 years, and I worked as a carpenter. The time was passing slow, guilt was heavy. I was like a man who, though didn’t have too much, has lost everything in life.
Vladimir: I remembered the prompting received that night at the church. I remembered the advice of those repentant people and the fact that there is a God who forgives and lifts the guilt of sin of every man, no matter how much he sinned. And yet, how or rather where did you find the strength to go on?
Vladimir: Yes, and more than that, I had with me a Bible I received that night at the church from a Christian friend. I started reading it, though I didn Those things gave you strength?’t know too much. Following the advice of another inmate from Rahova penitentiary who was reading the Bible himself, I did a correspondence bible course, with a Christian association. Slowly, my eyes started opening more and more. The more I read, the more I realized my urgent need of God. I only knew a god painted on an icon. I didn’t know He is alive, that He speaks to people, and answers their prayers. I had no idea why Jesus Christ was born. I have lived all my life in darkness, though I considered myself a Christian continuing the faith of my father. I had no clue of the elementary things of Christianity.
From what you tell me it’s clear that God, in His love, spoke to your heart. What decisions did you take after that?
A year and a half ago I was transferred again to Botosani Penitentiary. Here I found some things that pleasantly surprised me. The fact that you guys were meeting daily for prayer and bible study and that there are Christians from the outside that come weekly to minister inside the penitentiary were for me reasons for joy. I could clearly see that God allowed me to return to this prison so that I could get more of His Word. As you well know, I started attending your daily prayer and bible study meetings. Here I got the conviction that I need a personal relationship with god, which could be obtained only through faith in His only Son, Jesus Christ.
I perfectly remember those moments; it was like yesterday, even though more than a year and a half has passed by. I can only give praise to God for all that wonderful time. What prompted you to make a covenant with God, to surrender your heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ?
The first and most important reason was the fact that I understood that Jesus Christ will forgive all the sins of my past. But, more important than anything else is that He will offer forgiveness for the murder I committed. Nobody ever talked to me about forgiveness. I believed that I will always have to carry with me what I’ve done in the past. That until I met the Lord Jesus Christ. Another reason is the fact that I realized that He is alive and answers prayers. Exactly a year ago, around holidays, I was in a delicate situation. I was lacking everything; nobody visited me for a few months. Nobody knew my situation, but God and me. I was very sad and heavy hearted due to that situation. But the God to whom I started praying, the True and Holy One, looked toward me, an inmate and a hopeless man, and from heaven He answered my prayers. A Christian neighbor, whom I haven’t seen for 7 years, and never talked to him all this time, came and visited me unexpectedly. I could expect anyone to come and see me, but him. Then I saw with my eyes how greatly the Lord, in whom I trust, works. God sent him to bring me food for the body, but more important food for soul. He spoke to me from God’s Word; he strengthened my faith, telling me to read Psalm 32 and Acts 10.
I perfectly remember how happy you were after that visit. Shortly after that, you decided to get water baptized. How was it?
One evening at the prayer time I heard there will be baptisms and that a number of inmates will be baptized. That night, I knelt down before the Lord and asked Him to speak to me, to tell me if it is good for me to make this New Testament covenant with Him, in the water of baptism. Well, I want to tell you that God spoke to me that night, through a very clear dream, that I have to repent and get baptized. The next day, I met you and told you my dream and the desire to be put on the list of those who will be baptized. On March 25, 2016, full of joy I entered the water of baptism. There, I confessed the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and personal Savior. This is my personal testimony and I share it for the praise and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
I am glad for the sincerity in the things you shared with us. In closing, do you have any message for those who will read your testimony?
I have a message for my brothers in faith: tell everyone, unceasingly, about the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t forget that most of the people don’t know Him and humanity needs Christ. For those who don’t know God, and here many of my friends and acquaintances at home are included. At least out of curiosity search and see what the Holy Scripture says. To see for yourselves why Christ was born, why He came into the world and why He was crucified. For me the answer the Bible offered to these questions changed my life and now I serve God with all my heart and soul.
Good health and blessings from our Lord Jesus Christ!
WHY JESUS CHRIST?
I was often asked, why Jesus Christ? I performed in sports, I visited many countries, I did many things, good and bad, I had a house, a beautiful family, I had everything I needed in order to be happy. Then some people asked why Jesus Christ, when everything seems to be arranged well in your life, when all is “happy”.
Some time ago, my view of things was different than now. I saw repentance, which only comes as a result of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, as something scary: I saw it as a “method of brain washing”, used by the “repentant ones” to forbid you to party, to drink alcohol, to look after and desire your neighbor’s wife, house, car. So, in my mind the idea that repentance, as ordained by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself as a commandment for us “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 4:17), is a method used to only make you give up what you like, in order to live an honest but sad, full of absolutely nothing kind of life, was growing stronger and stronger. I considered those who lived that kind of lives as victims, kept in bondage by a chain of lack of knowledge, of lack of information. During the rare discussions I had with that kind of people, before I came to know the Lord personally, people who lived through and for Jesus Christ, I tried heavily to convince them that they were wrong, mistaken, that they isolated themselves from the world, and by doing it they have no idea what the miss: parties, weddings, and all kinds of good times; that life must be lived, not abandoned.
I enjoyed visiting often my grandmother, my mother’s mother. She was a godly woman, Mum Ruzalia, as we used to call her. I would often find her on her knees, even at noontime. And I didn’t understand why she does it, as it wasn’t bedtime, when people usually say “Our Father”. But she had this habit. As soon as she found some free time, she knelt down before God and prayed.
We talked about different things, but every time we left she didn’t miss telling us that she prays for us, and Jesus Christ, in whom she believes, will hear her prayers and will eventually answer them. I used to look at Mum with much love, but also with pity. I was telling myself “What could and old lady, living by herself on a hilltop, know? What could she know about this world, about the existing technology? What does she know about the pleasure of traveling and having a good time? Poor old lady…” At that time, I considered her as one of those who lost their way, those who know nothing else but God, Jesus Christ, repentance, love, goodness…
Well, so far a little glimpse of what used to be and the way I saw things in the past. Today, not only that I share the same hope with those who I considered lost at that time, but I see so clear, it’s as someone took away a veil from my eyes. At that time I was absolutely led astray and blind!
Why do I say it? People are often led astray by the enemy of our souls, the devil, who declared himself an archenemy of humanity from the very beginning of the world. There is only one way to know the reality, to know what’s good and what’s wrong for our soul. We must carefully read the Bible, which is God’s Word for us. It explains to us, step by step, what we have to do in order to avoid to be led astray by the devil.
Some people who claimed to be scholars and have knowledge of the holy things and teachings came to Jesus. They asked Him a question, and the Lord Jesus Christ gives them a probably unexpected answer, but reflects reality: ”Jesus answered and said to them, „You are mistaken, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God.” (Mt. 22:29)
Why did I see repentance as a scary thing? Why did I see the “repentants” as led astray people? Why was Jesus Christ just a picture on a wall? Why? Because I, myself, was lost, because I did not know the Scriptures (so far in my life, I never opened a Bible: of course, didn’t read it at all), and I didn’t know the power of God, how could I, since I didn’t know Him in a personal way? So, the answer given by Jesus to the Sadducees in Matthew 22 is a valid answer for me, too and it’s true for whoever doesn’t read the Word of God in order to understand what is good and what is not good to do for his own soul.
From the words of the Savior we understand that the way to find the Truth and not wander is to know the Scriptures. And how can we know the Scriptures better than by reading the Bible? So, I encourage you to read the Bible, if you have the same way of thinking and preconceived ideas I once had. Reading the Scriptures will help you clarify for yourself what is good and what is not.
What did I find in the Bible? I found life, I found that repentance is not a word invented by “repentents” but is the command of God for us. The apostle Paul tells the people of Athens in Acts 17:30 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent”. I found out that God is love and He loves us, but also He is righteous and will judge people according to righteousness. I found in the Bible that I had to change something to my life, to the way I lived, to the way I thought, to the way I spoke. I found the following verse “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
Then I thought “Wow!” If God had and has only one Son and He gave Him to be sacrificed for us, then the love of this God is extremely great. What do I have to do to benefit of this great love? The Bible says I only have to believe, and so I did. I believed with all my heart that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and through His sacrifice on the cross I can be forgiven of all my unclean past, of my mistakes, of my bad words. Even though today I’m in a prison paying for my mistakes, I’m firmly convinced that in God’s eyes I’ve been forgiven because I believed in His Son!
Now, to answer the title question (“Why Jesus Christ?”), I’ll write a few of the reasons that caused me to believe that Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, is the only One who could help me. I’ll share with you a few personal experiences I didn’t share publicly so far, did not discuss them even with people close to me, since they are intimate, very personal things. Then, why do I do it now? There are two motives: 1)First, for the glory of God; 2) Second, to tell you, the one who read this, that no matter how heavy is the burden you carry, there is Someone always ready to lift up your burden, trouble or problem and carry it instead of you. Jesus Christ is a burden carrier! Praise Him forever!
A few years ago I wasn’t following the Lord yet, I was confronted with a thought (and it was more than a normal confrontation). It was an insistent and perverse thought that haunted my mind telling me to close the account with life and commit suicide. This thought, transformed in a heavy burden, was one of the fiercest battles I ever fought. A lot more difficult than any fight I fought in the cage or in the ring. I could say that it was a life and death battle.
I don’t know how many of you have ever fought such a battle, but for my it was huge. I didn’t talk to anyone about this battle as I thought that such a though denotes weakness. Before I knew God, Who broke my ego, there could be no thought of weakness in Ghita Ignat’s life.
Oh, if it were only that! There were many weaknesses in my life, but I was never strong enough to talk about them. Today I can say I boast in my weaknesses, not because of me, but because God has delivered me from them! Praise be the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ!
I will not go in details concerning the treacherous thought of suicide, but I want to tell you as an encouragement that, if I’m alive today and can share these things, it’s because Jesus Christ lifted up the burden of that dirty thought from my mind. Maybe in a future letter I’ll go into details about this episode of the fierce battle of the devil against my soul and my life.
Now I want to say something about the second burden that pushed heavily not only on my soul, but on my wife’s, too. It pushed heavily on our marriage, on our family. I would call it the burden of divorce. I know there are many couples in this world confronted with it and caryrying this burden, without knowing that Jesus Christ is always ready to carry it for them, so that they could live happily and in love until an old age.
At that moment of our lives we had two beautiful and healthy children, a house and a car, and everything we needed. In the eyes of those around us, we were a happy and fulfilled family. But, after a while, my wife and myself had 5 different attempts to go to court and fill in for divorce. We didn’t have a certain reason; we just wanted to finish with it. We had talks about how to divide the children between us, just as you would talk about dividing some candies. Nothing made sense and had any value in our eyes, anymore. The heaviness of the burden of the thought of dissolving everything pushed hard on our souls. But praise be to God that His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, lifted up this burden from our shoulders! He did it before it was too late and before we lost everything! Glory to Him!
These are two of the burdens that lied heavy on me and could have had unhappy consequences in my life, burdens that were lifted up in a miraculous way by the Lord Jesus Christ at the same moment when, desperately, I cried to Him for help.
Yes, Jesus Christ is a burden carrier. Not because I say it, but because He says it and encourages us to come to Him and ask for His help when the burden is too heavy for us – Matthew 11:28 “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Now I know why grandma Ruzalia is always on her knees in prayer. I thought she doesn’t know many things, but she knew the Truth and had a long, many –years personal relationship with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ. For a very long time, she brought her burdens and trouble at the feet of the Lord and enjoyed quietness and peace. That’s how I did it, and I encourage you to do the same.
I hope it doesn’t bother you that I write from a prison. All I write comes from love, with the hope that what you read on this blog could be helpful.
In the future, I’ll write also about other burdens extremely difficult to carry, burdens that were lifted up and carried by the Lord Jesus Christ, instead of me!
BE ALL BLESSED!
Botosani / January 16, 2017
I Saw Only the Gold
I came across an interesting subject about which to write to you. I pray that God can use these thoughts to speak to many.
An old Asian tale recounts the story of a man that all his life coveted gold. One day he went to a jewelry market. Seeing so much shining gold, he reached out his hand and grabbed as much gold as he could. After he was caught, the officials asked him, “How could you attempt to steal that gold, in broad daylight, with so many people around you?” The man, enslaved by the desire to become rich, answered, “When I got so close to the gold, I saw only the gold. I didn’t see all the people around me.”
I had to ponder, “How great was my desire for gold that I saw nothing else and no one else!” Gold is good if it is earned through honest work, but even so, gold does not give life. There is only One that can give life, and He gives it abundantly.
In the lines to follow you will read about Him! May His Name be praised!
Many of those who are imprisoned could say as the Chinese man said, “I saw only the gold!” (or only the euros, the dollars, or the millions of lei, etc.).
People deceive us daily, making us think that happiness, joy, and peace can only be obtained by a sterling material status. I was deceived in this way, and so were my other roommates that were once policemen, businessmen, politicians, or other officials. They were all deceived just as I was, thinking that only “gold” could bring them fulfilment.
A few days ago a new roommate arrived. He is an absolutely normal man, with a beautiful family and a business which was going well (at least when he was a free man). He had more than enough, and yet, in order to gain more, got involved in shady business dealings, eventually trying to bribe somebody, but was caught, tried, and convicted. Now he reflects for hours and hours, wondering why he gave up his family, his business, his liberty, the comforts of a free man, all these for an iron bed in a cell so crowded that prisoners step on one other.
What could make a man give up all the valuables listed above? A normal man would say, “There is nothing in this world that would make me give up my wife and children.” And yet, everyday there are people out there that risk a lengthy prison sentence without thinking too much of what they would leave behind if they were be caught. Daily there are businessmen, officials, even doctors that nervously clench their teeth and cross their fingers, hoping that they will again get by.
Gold is the thing that made many of them surrender everything they treasured and loved for an iron bed, here, in prison. Also, gold is what made people think, “They have no way of catching me!” or “I have too many significant connections to be caught.”
I must tell you that my new roommate said the same thing. I asked him why he risked so much when he had such a beautiful family and such a favorable material status. He gave me a long answer, but in summary his answer would be, “I saw only the money.”
I can tell you from experience that when Satan tries to deceive you by making you look only at the gold, he will never, in keeping with his corrupt nature, show you the other side of the coin. When your eyes are caught by the shiny “gold”, you do not see anything else that is around you. You do not see your children playing or your wife waiting for you in the evening. You do not see your parents and siblings that love you so greatly. You do not see many things, because the glitter of what Satan says you must have covers your eyes.
If Satan would show people the other side of the coin when he lays “the gold” before their eyes, I believe that the prisons, at least in Romania, would not have a problem with being overcrowded. But he lies because that is his specialty. The Lord Jesus said that Satan is the “father of all lies”; therefore, no matter how smart we think we are, we can easily be deceived if we do not walk closely with our Savior, Jesus Christ.
How do I know this? I know it because for years, not having a personal relationship with God, I was deceived by the enemy. My eyes were shining like fire-flies whenever I heard of a new and easier way to make money. I had no rules to follow since I knew nothing of the teachings of the Bible, so the way to acquire more was unobstructed. Encouraged by the society in which we live, there was nothing that could encourage me to take my eyes off the “gold.”
In the end, “the gold rush” took me to prison for a few years. I consider myself to be in a happy situation because, in His great mercy, God opened my eyes to a totally different reality than before. It is a reality in which “gold” does not occupy the first place, not even the second, nor the third. Actually, I believe that God’s Kingdom is not about gold, nor about gaining riches, but rather about love, family, respect, loving our neighbor, forgiving those who wrong us, about peace, about reconciliation, and about many other amazing things, things that I did not see before, because I was seeing only the gold.
Those that do not know God do not have an excuse for what they do, because they ought immediately to leave everything and seek the Creator and Giver of life, so that through a relationship with him, they could receive that “set of rules” to use as a guide for their life – the Word of God.
I would like to finish this post with a question, “If those that do not know God have no excuse, as the apostle Paul says in Romans 2:18-21, what will happen to those in the evangelical churches who know the truth, and yet they see only “the gold”?” This is a question upon which to ponder. It is not my desire to offend anybody, but rather – if you wish – to warn.
On one hand, the world, by its works, urges us to look only “at the gold”; on the other hand, God urges us to look to Somebody else – to the One who can give life.
I found a verse in the Scripture that reinforces what I said: “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
I write, because I want everyone to know that in Jesus Christ there is no “gold rush,” “money rush,” “position rush,” but only “righteousness rush,” “peace rush,” and “joy rush” in the Holy Spirit (Romans 14:17).
Choose to fix your eyes only on the things that are truly worthy.
May God bless you with health, peace, and lots of joy!
Who is Your Friend?
For a long time I wanted to write something about friendship and friends, about who we think our friends are, and about who truly are our friends.
Nowhere have I seen as much deception and disappointment regarding friends and friendship as here in prison. After many discussions with different prisoners, I found out that almost all of them have reasons to complain about the ones they had considered to be their friends outside of the prison walls.
There are two worlds, the world of free people and the world of prisoners. There are such huge differences between the two that the prisoners compare them with heaven and hell. Heaven is the world of the free, and hell the world of the prisoners. The two worlds are only a step apart, and it is not a big step; on the contrary, it is a very small one. Once the step is taken, the majority of the ones behind the bars realize that nothing of what they knew about friends and friendship is as they thought.
Talking to a prisoner, he mentioned that the friendships made in prison are different than the ones made while free. In prison, the prisoners become your friends because they want to take advantage of you (you have money and you help them some, or you are “cool”; in other words, you are good at using your fist, so they are interested in being your friend). It was he who told me that true friendships are the ones you make when you are free, with trustworthy people.
I couldn’t agree with him, and I couldn’t refrain from asking him, “So, tell me, since you are in prison, how many of your good friends that you had while free came to visit you at least once?” I don’t know why, but I had already intuited his answer.
“Nobody. Only my family comes from time to time, when they have the financial means.”
He thought for a few moments, then tried to take his friends’ side.
“You know, I’m from a village close to Prut. It’s a long way to here, and they don’t really have time, because they have field work…”
His explanations were in vain. He himself realized that he actually never had any true friends, and that most people, whether free or imprisoned, make friends with others simply because they want to take advantage of them.
People try to become friends or somehow establish relationships only with high-up, popular people, people of position, or those with lots of money. These relationships are built only with the mindset of taking advantage of the other, just as I mentioned earlier.
I had around me some people that were close to me – friends – only when I was successful in sports. When I and my family started going through a hard time, those people (the ones I had considered my friends) not only stayed far away from me, but also seemed happy for what I was going through and were speaking badly about me here and there, whenever the opportunity arose. Just like my other mates, I was greatly disappointed by these so-called friends.
The book of Proverbs from the Holy Scriptures tells us in one verse how a friend should be. Here is what the Word of God says: “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” In adversity, a true friend is like a brother. How wonderful is the way God teaches us to relate to our friends that go through a hard time!
I have to admit that even though I always tried to be a good friend to those around me, I wasn’t always very sensitive and didn’t pay much attention to those who went through a hard time. This is one of the things I regret. I’ve gone through hard times and I’m still going through hard times, but by going through such times, God in his great mercy has showed me who my friends truly are. I have learned from the Word of God how I should be a good and trustworthy friend for others.
So, going through hard times, being disappointed time after time by the so-called friends and asking for God’s help and mercy, not only did He bring true friends my way, but He also offered Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God to be my friend. And moreover, He offered some other friends and brothers; brothers in faith, brothers in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Today my friends are those people that truly love the Lord Jesus Christ. I was very surprised, and I share this for the glory of God, but there are brothers that traveled hundreds of kilometers to visit and encourage me. They also pray for me and my family. There are some people that do this whom I have never met before. They are my brothers in Christ, and to me they are MORE THAN JUST MERE FRIENDS. Only the Savior can give true value to a friendship. The Lord Jesus Christ says in the Gospel of John, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He gave His life so that you and I can have a TRUE FRIEND, a TRUSTWORTHY FRIEND, a FRIEND that never disappoints you. This is the ONLY SON OF GOD, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST!