Suddenly all my fear disappeared and determination arose in me. I went to the bed, under which Miroslav was lying. Watching carefully every move that Miroslav made I suddenly grasped his hand and with all my strength pulled him out from underneath the bed.
“Miroslav,” I said with a calm but firm voice, “tell me now, where is the faith and the joy God gave you—which you had only last night? Something must have robbed you of that faith and confidence. Did you really confess all your sins to the Lord?
“In the Word of God it is written, ‘The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and His ears are open unto their cry. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil…”’ (Psalm 34: 15,16).
Kneeling on the floor and lifting his hands up to me in despair, Miroslav cried, “Joe! Joe! Tell me that they are not going to hang me. Tell me, Joe! Do tell me that!”
“Miroslav,” I said, “you have to trust God. Don’t let your fear kill your faith and trust in Him. Tell me now,” I said softly, kneeling beside him and holding his trembling hands, “why are you so troubled? Be sincere. I will try to understand and we will pray about it together.”
Miroslav began telling me his story, often breaking down and sobbing. To save himself from the death penalty when interrogated by the police, he had falsely accused his friend the forester of committing crimes for which he himself was responsible. He told the police that his friend had forced him to steal secret documents, and to bring them to him at his forest house so that he could pass them on to some one else. The poor innocent forester was cruelly beaten and tortured to make him confess the crime and reveal what was in the secret documents. How could he tell when, in fact, he did not know? He had only taken the parcel from Miroslav and passed it on to another person. Now, he was waiting for his death penalty to be carried out.
There was a long pause when Miroslav finished his confession. The cell was cold. I felt as if an icy wind was blowing right through my own heart. It all was so very, very sad and hopeless. I closed my eyes and I could hear Miroslav’s heavy breathing.
“Lord, what now?” I thought. Slowly my mind started to work.
“Miroslav, now listen to what I’m going to tell you. Don’t expect God to help and protect you with all this iniquity still in your heart. It is a terrible thing you have done against your innocent friend.”
He jumped up, holding his head in his hands. He cried in panic, “Oh, God, oh God! They are going to hang me! Oh, my poor wife! My children! Oh, God!”
I pulled him down again, covering his mouth in fear that the guard might hear and come to beat or bind him again.
Quietly I said, “Listen, this is what I am going to do. Tell me if you agree.”
My plan was very simple. I would ring the bell and ask the guard for a sheet of paper and a pencil (we were not allowed to keep either of these in the cell). Then I would write down the true confession, have Miroslav sign it and give it to the guard to pass on to the court.
After I explained this plan to Miroslav he was scared again. Running wildly back and forth he cried and yelled and begged me not to do it. I prayed for him. Then I prayed with him. I explained that the only right way is to confess the truth.
At last he said with a weak voice, “Okay, do it.”
After that things happened very quickly: Guard. Paper. Pencil.
I wrote down the confession and asked Miroslav, “Is it right? Is this how it really was?”
“Yes,” he whispered, sitting on the floor, emotionless and unmoving.
And then came the hard—very hard—struggle to sign the document. But Miroslav found the strength in God to sign it. I summoned the guard to take the paper.
Miroslav became very quiet and thoughtful. He stayed like that all day long.
In my heart I prayed fervently for Miroslav. I talked to him about Abraham and his confidence in God. I told him about Joseph and how “God was with him.” I sang spiritual songs which I knew by heart. But Miroslav remained silent. I read my Bible to him, watching him out of the corner of my eye. From time to time he closed his eyes and bowed his head as he sat there on the floor. I believe he was praying.
A new creation
From that day on, Miroslav was a completely different man. Even his appearance changed. The guards couldn’t believe the miraculous change in him, He washed himself and allowed his nails to be trimmed. The barber came to shave him and to cut his hair. But Miroslav kept silent, always in a contemplative mood. I’m sure he felt God’s constant presence around him. Now and again the guards came to look at him through the peephole—to see if the change in Miroslav was real.
What the Lord had done with Miroslav was truly a miracle. But I’m afraid the guards gave me the credit, believing that it was my influence which caused this change. But Miroslav and I knew better. The glory— all of it—belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ.
In a few days I was transferred away from Miroslav. I left my Bible with him. That was not easy for me to do, but Miroslav needed it more than I did. I waved good-bye to Miroslav, sure that I would never again see him or hear of him.