Reflections from Jail

Editor’s note: Elder Hu Guang was detained a few years ago on charges of fraud. While in jail, he wrote this devotional. His wife later shared it on Weibo, along with a request for prayer that Hu will remain healthy and his faith will stay strong.

This translated devotional has been lightly edited, and some identifying information has been changed.


Can I Honor God Even Here?

Sometimes, physical walls are deceptive, just as the physical body can be deceptive, and you can know a person for a long time without understanding their true nature. Similarly, there is a sociological concept referring to the way anonymity affects behavior. Often, anonymous people throw their conscience aside to do whatever they please.

Those who remain silent while behind prison walls may be similar to the famous Catholic nun in India.[1] If not for her diary, no one would have seen how imperfect her portrait of faith. Yet Christians believe a transcendent spiritual world exists beyond this physical world. The spiritual world consists of God, angels, the heavenly spirits of saints – and also the devil. That spiritual world gives insight into everything contained in this physical world. Today I am writing of my own situation: the spiritual reality of a Christian enchained by demonic forces. Those outside the high prison walls are unlikely to understand this reality, but in the spiritual world, it is crystal clear.

The crux of the matter is this: even behind these high walls, where my brothers and sisters cannot see what happens, am I still able to glorify God with true joy?

God clearly sees every word and deed, every thought and idea, every strength and weakness, every joy and sorrow. What is more, although a Christian may be shut behind these walls, if they are constantly swallowed by sorrow and regret, they surely bring dishonor upon God. That Christian is giving room the devil room to repeat his old tricks; tricks he once used in the Old Testament book of Job.

The crux of the matter is this: even behind these high walls, where my brothers and sisters cannot see what happens, am I still able to glorify God with true joy? I do not glorify him because I have no choice and am just trying to make the best of a hopeless situation. I joyfully glorify the Lord because of my faith in him, and because he has clearly shown me that he is using me here.

Like Job, I also did not see things from God’s point of view in the beginning. At first, my heart was not filled with true joy. I must admit, I am not one who thinks they were born to suffer for the sake of suffering. Personally, I do not think this view is in line with human character, much less grace-starved human nature.

God’s Way of Using Me

I was born into a family that could afford to hire a full-time nanny. Growing up, my family was able to buy Reference News,[2] and we had milk and eggs every day.[3] After I retired, I had time to read, to think, and to slowly enjoy drinking my daily three cups of green tea.

Only after the initial shock of disbelief did I come to realize that prison was God’s calling on me.

Only after the initial shock of disbelief did I come to realize that prison was God’s calling on me. I vividly remember raising my handcuffed hands in anger when I was arrested, protesting my treatment to the PSB. I was strongly tempted to escape, and shocked by the harsh environment in jail, which was beyond imagining. Yet these many experiences of hell on earth helped me understand this was God’s way of using me. Daniel was faithful in Babylon; we must bear witness in today’s China, where prison serves as the modern-day lion’s den.

I finally realized: God had not accepted my retirement from the church. Through prison, he was testing my qualifications as a citizen belonging to the eternal, heavenly kingdom. This is the only explanation of my imprisonment that falls in line with the good and exalted intentions of our God Most High. When I finally understood the spiritual secret of my imprisonment, my eyes suddenly brightened, and my heart suddenly opened. Gradually, my indescribable pain and heavy sorrow disappeared.


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Of course, the realities of my surrounding still lead to pain and worry. I am troubled and hurt every time I find out anew that correctional officers are monitoring my reading and thought, burning my letters, and warning new inmates about their interactions with me. Nevertheless, I am comforted when I step back and view all this from the perspective of spiritual battle. I have regained my strength and joy.

A Precious Blessing

As I spend my 66th birthday in prison, I have come to understand even more what a precious blessing it is to be used by God. I am determined to cherish this opportunity. I don’t know right now how long I will remain in prison: two years? Perhaps even longer than expected? No matter. I will not accept the accusations against me. They say that it is “fraud” for a church to collect voluntary, biblically-based Christian tithes. This is a matter of being loyal to or betraying the church. Even more, it is a matter of loyalty and faith in my God.

As I spend my 66th birthday in prison, I have come to understand even more what a precious blessing it is to be used by God. I am determined to cherish this opportunity.

I am now certain: although I am behind the high walls of prison, I have a joy that pleases God. This is true joy indeed.

I draw near to the throne of grace and pray with confidence:

Holy and loving Father,

I have not dishonored your name, nor disgraced the prayers of my brothers and sisters. Merciful Heavenly Father, it is inevitable that I will continue to be troubled by my surroundings and face weakness and sorrow. I may still weep uncontrollably. In the quiet of night, I am afraid loneliness will still assault me. However, because your Holy Spirit lifts me up, sorrow will never be the melody of my soul. After a short time of grief, I will plea all the more to Christ, my Savior, the One who stands at the right hand of the Father.

Jesus, you know my need for grace. Please, call my name as you intercede for me in the heavenly sanctuary.

[1] Hao is apparently referencing Mother Teresa, who spent most of her life caring for the destitute in the slums of India.

[2] Before the 1980s, this newspaper was the only official way the general Chinese public could find out about global news outside of China. For many years, only Communist Party cadres could get the newspaper.

[3] In those years, many in China were starving and good food was hard to come by.


Hu Guang (a pseudonym) was an elder in his local house church. A few years ago, shortly after he retired, he was imprisoned on charges of fraud. 

Pray for Hu Guang and his family to find that the joy of the Lord is their strength — no matter their circumstances.

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With rising pressure and persecution in China, there are two challenges imperative for church leaders. The first challenge is for current leaders to love Christ above all else, and not to stray into legalism or love of the world. The second challenge is to raise up the next generation of leaders, who will humbly model Jesus even if current leaders are arrested.

WILL YOU JOIN US IN PRAYING FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT IN CHINA? PRAY FOR:

  1. Current leaders to grow in their daily walks with Christ
  2. Current leaders to shepherd and raise up new leaders
  3. New leaders who love Christ and will model him to the world
  4. New leaders to love and care for the church

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