The first day of prison the two brothers experienced was one neither will forget. Crowded into a tiny 4x6m room were 80 prisoners in the Indonesian jail. Rosyid described it as like “living in a can of sardines.”
They stood shoulder to shoulder, back to back with the other prisoners, almost unable to move. The other prisoners immediately began to push and beat them to establish their authority in the cell. Eight men proceeded to systematically beat their bodies until they collapsed onto the floor, unable to get up. Rosyid held on to his belief that the Lord was watching over them both as they endured the beating. It was 8pm; this was their initiation into prison life.
The next day at 4pm they were transferred to their new prison cell, which was to be their home for the next three years. The door closed securely as Rosyid and his brother, Jalaludin, were ushered into the overcrowded cell which held 34 criminals. These men had all been convicted of drug offences, which are punishable with death sentences in Indonesia.
The hardened men already knew that these two older men were Christians and had been told to give them a hard time. This time, the blows did not come as a surprise to Rosyid. Fortunately, the beatings did not last as long and the two men were able to keep close together. They knew they would have to learn quickly how to survive the next three years.
Dedicated to proclaim the Gospel
Rosyid was determined to share the Gospel with these prisoners no matter what the cost. His heart was dedicated to proclaim the Gospel, whether in prison or in the streets of Indonesia. This is what he was called to do.
The brothers learned there were 12 other Christians in another prison block. Every Wednesday a pastor with permission to hold a Christian meeting came and they all joined in fellowship together. After 10 months, Rosyid was even granted permission for the pastor to bring him a Bible. This was a tremendous encouragement for both of the brothers as they read, especially the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew 5. Together, they prayed for opportunities to share about Jesus with their cellmates.
They prayed continually for their families and longed to see them when visits were permitted. These were very special times and reminded them of their great love in Christ for each other. Their families told them of the prayer support of believers throughout the world. During their imprisonment they also received around 7000 encouraging letters, which greatly strengthened their faith.
Rosyid heard how his son witnessed to his Muslim friend by showing him verses in the Koran that told him to seek the Bible to broaden his knowledge. Word soon spread and many of his friends showed interest, until the teacher heard about it and he was expelled. He went to another school, only to be expelled again for sharing his faith. But Rosyid was very proud to hear of his son’s evangelisation of his friends.
Tailors in prison
Both men had a talent for sewing and were given the task of making the prisoners’ uniforms. After a breakfast of porridge or cassava at 7am, they were taken from their cell each morning to the sewing room for four hours. Lunch consisted of rice and salted fish; it was rare for them to receive any other protein but they adjusted to the prison diet quickly. At 1pm they continued their work until 3:30pm, when they were taken back to their cells.
During their prison term, Rosyid was very fortunate with his health. He had earlier suffered from a stroke and had hypertension, but he believes the Lord watched over him and both he and Jalaludin had reasonable health throughout their imprisonment.
After one year and eight months, due to serving their sentence with good behaviour, Rosyid and Jalaludin were granted early release. Rosyid was overjoyed that he was going to be released and not have to endure the rest of his sentence in the cage. On 15 December 2014 he was released with the condition that he reports to the prison every month to sign a paper and tell them what his activity has been. The authorities warned him to stop evangelising, but Rosyid is still determined to tell others the Good News of Jesus Christ and will not be silenced.
Letters are an excellent source of strength and encouragement for prisoners like Rosyid and Jalaludin as many face years in jail for their Christian witness. Download a prisoner profile here and write a simple letter today.