It’s every Christian’s worst nightmare. Thrown in a Sudanese prison with violent ISIS fighters and a 20-year sentence, VOM worker Petr Jasek could have lost all hope. But instead, God used him to share the Gospel in one of the darkest places on earth.
In an interview with CBN, Petr shares how his work with VOM (Voice of the Martyrs) ended up with his arrest and imprisonment for espionage and the frightening reality of living with his ISIS cellmate.
“One of the ISIS members was a Libyan guy who at the age of 12 was a personal guard for Osama Bin Laden in Tora Bora and later on when he returned to Libya he was one of the murderers who slaughtered the 20 Egyptians on the Libyan shore,” he shared.
“He took out a fishing string, quite a strong fishing string from his pocket and he was showing how he could kill a person within a few seconds with this fishing string. He told me if I was an American or Russian that he would break my neck immediately and kill me.”
The prison had other ISIS members and extremists, and he found this out in a very disturbing way. When asked to share the news of the outside world, Petr told the prisoners about the terror attack in Paris, that had killed 129 people. Their reaction was chilling.
“When I said the 129 people got killed they interrupted me and they started to shout, ‘Allahu Akbar’ for several minutes. So, immediately I knew the company that I was in and I stopped telling them any more news,” he said.
This certainly didn’t end the violence, though, as the prisoners taunted him daily. “They called me a filthy pig, or filthy rat,” he says, “and if I did not react to this new name they started to beat me, slapping my face, or fist to my face and they used a wooden stick. So gradually I started to live with the new name. I was not Petr anymore, I was just ‘filthy pig.'”
Petr was originally arrested in December of 2015, after the government discovered he had recorded some video with local Christian leaders, an act they deemed espionage. The Sudanese government views Voice of the Martyrs as an espionage organization, rather than a mission.
But VOM is a mission, and Petr was a missionary. So in spite of his ordeal in prison and the ostracism and threats he faced, God remained with him and reminded him what his purpose was.
This revelation came after leading some Eritrean prisoners to Christ. “I suddenly started to realize that there is a purpose,” he explained. “The Lord has a purpose for me to be in prison to share the Gospel with those people.”
“I started to be even more courageous to open my mouth and share the Gospel also with the Muslims who were in the previous cell with me,” he added.
Petr was no stranger to persecution. As a child in Soviet-controlled Czechoslovakia, he witnessed his parents being monitored and later arrested and interrogated for their distribution of Christian literature. Years later, he found himself in a similar position, persecuted this time by Islamists rather than communists.
After 14 months, Petr was fortunately freed. He expresses gratitude to the hard work of the Czech government for negotiating his release, as well as the prayers and support of millions of Christians worldwide.