Our Sister in Prison
I feel privileged to be able to correspond with Sister D, a 29-year-old part-Maori girl from New Zealand, in a women’s prison in Japan. The rules there are very strict, as she is only allowed to correspond with blood relatives and have visits from them. So when she asked for baptism, it was a sheer miracle that after a wonderful confession of her faith, through Bible Basics, and further correspondence with Duncan and Cindy, that arrangements could be made to facilitate this. As the prison’s rules are so strict on visitors, Bro Duncan’s visit was by pure grace. Our combined fervent prayers were answered, a sheer miracle happened, and Duncan was able to take the long trip to Vladivostok, and then to fly across to Tokyo. Sister D was so joyous at this event, that she wept all through the visit with sheer joy and happiness in her heart.
As she comes from the same town as I do in New Zealand, after three applications personally from her, the prison gave their permission for me to be able to correspond with her. We have become very close. Her letters are all prettily framed with hand drawn colourful flowers, stars, hearts beautifully shaded in, by coloured pencils. These are the only tools she has, and she makes my letters look beautiful. She says that she needs Christ so much in her life, she can’t even breathe without Him now.
She says that she felt her life was over when she was first imprisoned and she found herself in a pit of despair and desperation – that death seemed her only option. She said that she found the Lord, crumpled up in the corner of her cell. She was pregnant and felt absolutely hopeless with her situation. Then she says she found the Lord and she has never ever looked back. Her Grandmother (not a Christadelphian) in New Zealand, had sent her a copy of Bible Basics which she had come across somehow by the hand of providence, and she got her Bible from Marcus in England, and started studying and writing to Duncan and Cindy. She studied passionately, and when her baby boy was born, her wonderful father travelled from New Zealand to pick him up as a newborn and bring him home to the “Whanau” (family). She says that they love and cherish him, and he has just turned 3 years old. She now has seven further years to serve in prison.
Sister D says she now has a deep seated peace in her life. She told me that she can’t stop smiling all the time under such dire circumstances, and she says that other prisoners ask her why she is smiling all the time, and she says it is the peace of God in her heart, knowing about God’s plan for salvation.
She works in a sweat shop sewing, and has recently been promoted to the position of “Kakari”, which is the head person of responsibility in her workshop, and so the Lord is blessing her for her upright walk in life, and a willingness to do what is right. She says that this position is unheard of in a person so young, and especially as she is still learning the language. She really is a wonderful Sister, and for one so young she has matured quickly beyond her years. In her last letter she says her sleeping accommodation has also been upgraded, and she is now in a nicer space to read and to study in her spare time, even though she has little space to put things. The rules for behaviour are very strict, with severe punishments for misconduct, so she strives to live a godly life before her Maker and those in charge. She says these things are a great blessing to her. She had only been writing to me for a short time, when she asked my permission to call me OKASAN which means in Japanese “Spiritual Mother”, which is an honour for me. Although her letters are full of news, she is very spiritual and has an enquiring mind.
The summers are very hot in Japan, and the winters are perishing cold. Her diet there sounds strange to us, but she copes well and is used to the regime. She has become like a member of our family and speaks of everyone in her letters – our son Jonathan who recently passed away, now sleeping in the “Hope of the Resurrection”, our little Meetings at home here, and places in our country that she remembers so well. I am able to send her newspaper clippings and postcards of familiar places. She says in her own words, that her comfort in her affliction has come from the Word of God, and it has revived her and given her life – Psalm 119:50. She says.... “Wow Lord, your ways are breathtaking and are incomprehensible to us mere humans”. I also send her verses to keep close to her heart such as Psalm 34:7... “The Angel of the Lord encampeth round about all those that love and fear Him...and delivereth them”. She loves the book of Isaiah and finds it comforting many a night when she feels tearful and in need of a hug.
To quote her letter she said “My promotion over the other Japanese women was a Godgiven blessing, I can’t believe I have been chosen as I had been hoping and praying for this for so long. I am speechless that God has so blessed me in all areas of my life here...I can see it is the work of God’s overruling power caring for me – I can’t help but see the Lord’s hand at work...just as He looked after Joseph whilst he was imprisoned in Egypt all those years ago. I have only been in this new role a few weeks, but every day I am praying and giving my thanks to God, and also that I can perform my duties and responsibilities well up to standard. It is a real honour for us prisoners, and makes a real difference to how we are viewed, ranked and ultimately paroled... I want others to see Christ’s love shining in me, and I hope to become a true disciple of Christ.”
In her last letter of a week ago, she sent the words of James 5:7-8... “Brothers and Sisters be patient until the Lord comes again. See how the farmers wait for their precious crops to grow – they wait patiently for fall and spring rains. You too must be patient. Don’t give up hope. The Lord will soon be here”. Even so, come quickly Lord Jesus.
Sis Helen Pyper (Hibiscus Coast, New Zealand)