From Behind the Iron Curtain
TWO years ago I was arrested because I was a witness of Jehovah. At two o’clock at night I was taken to prison and put into a cell. There was already a man in the cell when I entered, and he grumbled: “Not even at night can I have my rest; one man goes, another man comes and tomorrow I have to appear before court.” I apologized and said that the disturbance was not my fault and then I asked why he was there. He replied that he was a building contractor; the fact that a building could not be finished in time was construed by the government as sabotage, and so he was sent to prison. He said he was in favor of justice and did not want to have anything to do with politics, and that is why he had been brought to prison. He then asked me what crime I had committed, to which I replied that I was a witness of Jehovah and told the people the truth. I suggested that we continue the conversation another time.
The next day this builder was condemned to several years’ imprisonment. Now I could instruct him in the truth every day, because he wanted to know who Jehovah’s witnesses are and what they believe, and his interest increased from day to day. After three weeks we did not start a meal before having prayed together, and sometimes he would even say the prayer himself. Somewhat later he asked if he could address me as brother, to which I readily agreed. He said: “One day you will leave the prison and I shall remain here and I would like to serve my time as a witness of Jehovah.” I continued to teach him, and when we got to the subject of dedication, he expressed the desire to be baptized. But I objected to this, because it seemed too soon to me. He insisted though and said: “Brother, you are not taking dedication seriously enough”; which embarrassed me somewhat. I told him that we would continue to study and leave the matter to Jehovah. Here in prison the immersion could not take place and so he would have to wait anyhow. He agreed, and we prayed together every evening.
One evening the jailer came, opened the door of our cell and told us to follow him. At first we expected something bad, but we were wrong. He led us to a door, opened it, told us to step inside and said: “Stay in here until I fetch you again, and don’t make a noise.” He locked the door and there we stood, looking at each other without saying a word; we were in a bathroom! There were two bathtubs filled with water. My prison mate, pointing with his finger at one of the bathtubs, said just one word: “Here.” I felt like Philip in the presence of the Ethiopian. I told him it was not easy to be one of Jehovah’s witnesses; one has to meet many obligations and one has to bury one’s past way of life. He answered: “This is the reason why I am here.” All this came rather suddenly to me, but since he knew what immersion meant, he insisted that I baptize him. And so we prayed to Jehovah and asked his blessing and his guidance upon us, and then I immersed my prison mate in water. Afterward we shaved and put everything in order again. After a while the jailer came, opened the door and brought us back to our cell, without saying a word. We thanked Jehovah again for this wonderful opportunity and continued our study.
At the end of the study my friend said: “Now when you leave me I shall not be alone, but God will be with me.” Soon after, I was released from prison. I am corresponding with him by letter and he always admonishes us to remain faithful to the truth and fulfill our vows, and to remain strong until the end. He is looking forward joyfully to the time of his release, and then he will join us in our good work.