July is the month for Independence Days. As Canadians, Americans, and French all celebrate, my thoughts turn to freedom. I went to Romania in 1990 to help people become free, but not in the way many had hoped. Romanians often said to me, “We wait you. Why did you take so long?” For years, their collective wish was that the Americans would come and liberate them from their tyrannical regime.
But no, the reason many of us went to Eastern Europe at that time was to offer true freedom – freedom which is only available through a relationship with the Person of Christ. Missionaries continue to leave behind comforts and freedoms to show people who live in dark, oppressive places this freedom which lasts forever.
My husband goes inside the cell blocks of San Quentin Prison every week to help men find this same liberty. Many of these inmates have surrendered their lives, laid down their bitterness, and received forgiveness from the Lover of their souls. They have been set free to know Christ like few people I’ve ever met. They have no need for pretense anymore. On the outside, we try to hide our sins, but theirs are laid bare for anyone who sees their orange jumpsuit.
While many in the Land of the Free are held hostage by their own natures, there are people inside prison walls and countries with heavy-handed regimes who have experienced true freedom. Freedom always costs something dear to Someone. I’m grateful for the men and women over the centuries who’ve been willing to lay down their lives so I can experience temporal freedom to worship without fear, vote, express any opinion I want, read anything I choose – all things which had been denied to the Romanians I met in 1990. Mostly I’m grateful to Christ for His grace, lavished abundantly and without cost to me, so that I can be free indeed.