Editor’s Note: The following is an anonymous submission from a Christians United for Jahar contributor.
Last week’s news about Robel Phillipos’s verdict and Khairullozhon Matanov’s alleged assault has elicited some prayer requests. If you have not been following the trial, Robel was found guilty of two counts for lying to investigators. Khairullozhon, in a letter to a penpal, claimed to have been physically abused and discriminated against by prison guards.
Life behind bars is tough and brutal for these young men. Azamat Tazhayakov, who was also found guilty for helping to dispose of evidence, described his prison life to jurors as he testified in Robel’s trial. According to tweets from various reporters, he said his daily recreation time out of his cell has been reduced to 1.5 hours. He lives in a single cell and says it is ‘difficult.’ Khairullozhon, or ‘Khair’ for short, is currently in isolation 23 hours a day. He claims to have recently been beaten by prison guards because he is, as they called him, a “Muslim terrorist.” Khair appears to feel scared and hopeless as a result of the nightmare he claims he is living. Robel, who is currently on house arrest, appears exhausted and defeated in pictures. We cannot imagine how Jahar may look when he is brought to trial. He may no longer look like the same person we see circulated in the news because of his injuries and the inhumane treatment of solitary confinement.
Each of them broke the law in some capacity, but the punishment many of them claim to face appears extreme and inhumane. Locked away in their cells, they suffer and wonder about their fate. Without their lawyers or families, they likely feel helpless and alone. This brings us to the scripture that reminds us to put ourselves in their position and “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them…” (Hebrews 13: 3). This verse reminds us to pray for them each day, to suffer alongside them, to shed tears for them, and to reach out to them with compassion.
- It must be difficult for Robel to accept the guilty verdict. Pray for Robel to have peace. Pray for his family that they would be comforted and strengthened during this difficult time. Pray for his sentencing to be fair on January 29. Pray for his lawyers as they consider any possible appeals. If Robel does not know Jesus, pray that he would be lead to place his trust and hope in Him.
- Pray for healing for Khair’s injuries from the alleged attack. Pray for protection from further abuse. Pray that his lawyers are able to advocate for his safety. Pray for Khair’s mental and physical well-being and that everything he is going through would not lead to depression or mental illness. Pray that those Christians who write to Khair would have the opportunity to share the gospel with him, and pray that he would continue to respond despite his circumstances. Pray that Jesus would reveal Himself to Khair through dreams and visions, and that Khair would have access to His word and interactions with believers. Pray that Khair would be able to find hope in Christ despite the worldly hopelessness of his situation.
- It must be difficult for Aza and Dias to accept their guilty verdicts as well. Pray for Aza and Dias to continue to respond to letters from those Christians who write to them. Pray for opportunities for those who write to share with them the freedom and blamelessness found in Christ. Pray for just sentences for Aza and Dias and for the appeals process. Pray for strength for both of them to get through this difficult time in their lives. Pray for Jesus to reveal Himself to them in dreams and visions and for opportunities for them to read His word and interact with believers. Pray for comfort and strength for their families as they struggle to adjust to life with their children/siblings in prison.
- Pray for Stephen Silva. Although we have heard very few updates on him, we pray for his mental and physical well-being. Pray for his upcoming pretrial conference hearing. Pray for opportunities for Christians to be able to reach out to him with the love of Christ through letters. Pray for Jesus to rescue him.
- For Jahar, pray for protection from those who would harm him. Pray for his mental and physical well-being as he endures the inhumane conditions of solitary confinement. Pray for Jahar’s lawyers and for God to providentially orchestrate every detail of his trial. Pray for protection from the death penalty if possible, but that God would give Jahar whatever he needs to lead him home, even if that means receiving the death penalty. As Jahar clings tightly to Allah and Islam, pray that God would place a deep longing inside of Jahar that will never be fulfilled until he gives his life to Jesus. Pray that God would use the things of the darkness to lead Jahar into His beautiful light. Pray for Jahar to realize his need for a Savior. Pray that Jesus would reveal Himself to Jahar and that He would not rest until Jahar is His. Pray for comfort and strength for the entire Tsarnaev family, and pray that God would make every single one of them a part of this beautiful story by relentlessly pursuing each one of their hearts.
November 12: Pretrial conference (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev)
November 12: Hearing on motion for a new trial/acquittal (Azamat Tazhayakov)
November 12: Pretrial conference (Stephen Silva)
November 18: Sentencing hearing (Dias Kadyrbayev)
November 19: Sentencing hearing (Azamat Tazhayakov)
December 18: Final pretrial conference (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev)
January 5: Trial begins (Dzhokhar Tsarnaev)
January 29: Sentencing hearing (Robel Phillipos)
May 11: Final pretrial conference (Khairullozhon Matanov)
June 8: Trial begins (Khairullozhon Matanov)