I was angry. That was my first reaction when I heard what had happened. Four guys from our addictions recovery program in Argentina had been arrested. Four young men who had each come to faith in Jesus Christ and had been radically transformed by his power had been unjustly sent to jail.
To look at Juan, Ezekiel, Emanuel and Juan Cruz you might assume that they looked like criminals. Young men with multiple tattoos and scars on their bodies. They did not seem to be committed followers of Jesus to all the people who crossed their paths.
Regardless, they went out the morning of their arrest to do what they always do, sell bakery products from our ministry’s transition program and share their testimonies about Christ’s transforming work in their lives.
They had not anticipated being stopped by police while leaving a gas station. Something looked suspicious to these officers when they saw four young men push starting a car with some mechanical issues. It belonged to Emanuel, but he did not have the vehicle’s paperwork in order. This normally would mean confiscation of the vehicle, but in Argentina, it is not uncommon for policemen to abuse their power. In this case, they sent the four young men to the county jail to spend the next four days while background checks were performed.
I was traveling at the time and very upset about the whole situation. How could these young men, who have survived so much, be treated in this way? What an injustice! How will they respond? Will they be discouraged?
I learned the answers to these questions a few days later after they had been released. Fortunately, a lawyer was able to get them released earlier than thought.
“How are you guys doing?” I asked Emanuel. “Good,” he said. “It was bad that we were arrested, but at the same time, we had the opportunity to share our testimonies with all the people in our jail cell. We told them about Jesus Christ’s work in our lives and prayed with them to accept Christ.”
I was speechless. These young ex-drug addicts, full of the Holy Spirit, were able to boldly proclaim Christ in the middle of a terrible situation. I was humbled by their faith and once again reminded that the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead also resides in each follower of Jesus.