Have you ever spent your whole life praying for something and not seen the answer you hoped for? (When you are a 16-year-old boy, ten years can seem like your whole life.) That is how long my son, Conor, has prayed for a man named David to be set free.
Fifteen years ago, David felt God’s call to leave his home and comfortable life to rescue orphaned Roma children living on the streets of Albania. He moved to Tirana, bought a large house, and watched God fill it with children that the Albanian state and society had cast aside. I met David on a mission trip and rejoiced to see the amazing ways that God provided the finances and favor needed to care for these children. Lives were being transformed, children were thriving, government policies were changing to protect children … and then it all seemed to come crashing down. David was arrested.
Two young boys were bribed and coerced to lie. In a corrupt judicial system, that is all it took to sentence an innocent man to 20 years in prison. Our family prayed hard. Six-year-old Conor especially felt the sting of this injustice and with the confident faith of a child prayed every night that God would free David. Our God who broke down prison walls and set the captives free could surely do this. Truth and justice would prevail! One appeal led to another. Corruption in the judicial system was exposed, officials were indicted, and the boys recanted their lies in tears. Even so, David remained in prison.
Ten years have passed and we are still praying. We have not received the answer we hoped for, but we have seen God at work and we have had the opportunity to introduce our children to the impact and importance of prevailing prayer. The work of reaching a lost world with the hope of Jesus is not only accomplished by those who go and whose boots hit the ground in foreign places, but also by those whose knees continually hit the ground and do battle on their behalf.
These ten years have taught us much. Our family has learned that prayer is hard work and the work we do in prayer matters. We have learned to trust God’s purposes and His ways and to seek His perspective. As we wait for the answer we seek, God is powerfully at work to fulfill His purposes. The prayers of those who faithfully pray for David have accomplished much. He has experienced God’s power and presence in unbelievable ways despite disagreeable cellmates and deplorable conditions. In sorrow and sickness, God has sustained David with encouragement and blessings at exactly the right time. God has granted him favor with prison officials who bestow unprecedented privileges on this man they know to be innocent. David’s witness has been a light in a dark place that Satan has not been able to extinguish. God always outmaneuvers the enemy.
What about the bold faith of that six-year-old boy? Has it wavered? There have been tough questions to tackle on this journey of prevailing prayer. Why is there injustice? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is every prayer not answered with an immediate “YES”? Our family has grappled with these questions and emerged with an even stronger conviction that God is good, He can be trusted, and His purposes will prevail. The captives will be set free and the greatest victory is ahead! God will have the last word in Albania and we will continue to pray until those prison doors finally open.