He Put Me In Jail to Save Me – Spiritual Story by John M Lukamto

When my wife lost her job in 2002. She lost her confidence to find new job and stayed with me in Batam. Since then, our family relied on my salary alone. At this time, with whatever money can buy in a vice place like Batam, I and my wife went deeper into drug addictions; I resorted to drugs in order to find peace. We started with ecstasy-pills where I found I could talk in peace and empathy with my wife, but it was only temporary, as we continued and upgraded to a more dangerous drug like ICE, where we were heavily addicted. Drugs made the situation worse. I lived in an unreal world, and when the drug's effects subdued, the violence intensified.

Consumed by drugs for about 3 years, I ignored the parental responsibility to our 5 children. They lived in poverty and obtain help from social welfare organization, CDC, relatives and in laws. Our maid had to work to take care of our children without being paid for about 3 years. Under the influence of drugs and in the circle of wicked friends, I was also involved in manslaughters in Batam. I felt no remorse then, because the blood belonged to the dark society anyway. But, remained deep in my heart was the guilt for the victims and the innocent family left behind.

To feed by drug addiction I sold everything I had and became officially bankrupt in 2005. I lost my job and planned to smuggle drugs into Singapore. I purchased 3 packs at 7grams or total of 21 grams of ICE Cristal in Batam, and carried with me by ferry to Singapore together with my wife. However, through a betrayal of some friends in the drug circle, I was caught by the Singapore authorities at the Tanah Merah ferry terminal in Singapore on my way back from Batam. While under detention, my father died in Surabaya, and I had no chance to pay my last respect.

My life seemed to have collapsed when I was detained at Queenstown Remand prison (QRP) in Nov 2006. My 2nd son got me an affordable lawyer whom was his own lecturer (my son studied law diploma at an external university with the help a catholic church's fund). The lawyer told me my minimum sentence by law will be 5 years and 5 strokes of rotan, because the drug in my possession had been weighed by HSA (Singapore Health Science Authority) to be 18grams of class A drugs, and worse still I was considered trafficking the drugs from Batam (Indonesia) to Singapore. The Law states death penalty for trafficking in 20grams or more of class A drugs, and I was only short of 2 grams to the death penalty. The best sentence he can bargain with the prosecutor would be 7 years with 5 strokes. That was the best he can do. I was really devastated, depressed and tried to commit suicide in QRP. Then, came the court order to put me in IMH mental hospital for evaluation. I was warded for 3 weeks in IMH (mental hospital) and released back under medication to QRP with a report.

It came the right time God made Himself known to me through a person by the name of Lim in QRP, He built faith and hope in me. He assured me that God loves me, and waiting for me to come back to Him through this hard way. He told me that it was not coincidence that I met him in Singapore prison, and it was not coincidence that drug was the only subject of my arrest lest other crimes I had committed, like murder, and it was not coincidence that I was caught by Singapore justice system and not Batam's which might be more unbearable. It was all God's Love, plan and work of mercy towards me.

Lim gave me my first Christian book called “healing your heart from the painful memory“. I confessed all my sins through Lim without hesitation, because he assured me for what Jesus Christ has done, that no sin is so great that it cannot be forgiven, and he read to me the sinners prayer. Lim always prayed for me, my wife, and my children, and assured me to seek first the Kingdom of God and Its righteousness first and the rest just leave it to Him, as God will take care of my family at home, that I should not be worried now as God will provide all my family's needs through His blessing, and what I should do was only to surrender myself to Him, concentrate with God and be as close as possible with Him while I was in prison. Lim's most hopeful statement was: “with God, nothing is impossible, HE will show His miracle when we trust Him”.

This was the first time I experienced some peace and Hope of miracle in my life. I started reading Bibles and Christian books. The most memorable verses that God touched me in QRPrison, was the story of Joseph. In which God assured me that “although they meant harmed to you, but I will make it work for the good of you”. Since, then I always looked forward to prison's yard time just to be able to listen to Lim's preaching of Parables in Bible together with a group of 4-6 inmates, the same people always together, and always ended the gathering when the yard time was over, with some prayers together, and Lim always prayed specifically for me and my family every time. Coincidentally, every time the prison changed cell-rooms for me, somehow I always had a good Christian inmate to accompany me, and shared God's word with me.

I remembered vividly the following event, which has been the anchor of my faith to God, was that one very day, which was about a week before my final hearing for sentence to be passed. I had one inmate in my cell-room, a very young man about 17years old but behaving like a 5years old child, and he had a disfigured face (like human-pig face). And I remember meeting him during my treatment in IMH, where I was told by the warden to bathe this boy and changed the diaper for him. Here, he was said to have committed a mild crime, charged with burning his neighbor's laundry and molested a girl by touching her. And he was pending a transfer to IMH (Mental Hospital) again for his mental treatment. He never talked to anyone but only mumbling to himself in hokkien dialect. I shared my ex-visit food rations from my wife with him because I pitied him for he had no one to visit him. I did not talk much with him for I knew it was useless to talk to him, as well as my fear from looking at his face that he may get violent.

That night he suddenly woke me up in the middle of night and said in English, (it may not be precisely words by words, but I am very certain this was exactly he said in a clear tone): “I want you to know and not to worry because your sentence would only be a while (and he mentioned the number of months), you are here because God wants you to discover your purpose in life” and then he hugged me, I cried like a child in his hug because I was happy touched by a hopeful news, the hope of a miracle from God, although I did not actually know what it meant with “the purpose”. But I surely know that God has spoken to help me like a father through this young man, who would never have spoken any sensible words to anyone, not only because he was so young and seemed to speak only in hokkien dialect, but also at his mentally retarded condition!, yet, he could speak with me like this!, I kept saying thank you to him. And he was transferred out the next morning.

This experience gave me a stronger peace and faith in my prayer till the actual sentence day. I told my wife through glass-partition during her visit at QRP before the sentencing day that “God spoke to me through a young retarded man that my sentence would only be a while for 6 months”. I saw her red-eyes, I didn't know if that meant she believed me or not, or thought I turned crazy, but I was certainly very cooled and confident when I sat at court room bench, when the sentence was read.

The young man told me 6 months, but the judge passed the sentence as 9 months and 3 weeks with no Rotan canning; I had some confusion for a while because I was so convinced of God's message to me was 6 months, but still I felt very happy and relieved because 9 months and 6 months both were quite close anyway, until my Lawyer approached me and said: “congratulation, you would only serve 6 months and 2 weeks after remission”. That was the striking convincing moment for me of God's miracle and grace. God did not just make a miracle by passing an impossibly light sentence for my heavy crime, but he actually let me know in advance that it was He who did it!

After that I was transferred from QRP to non remand prisons (Admiralty prison about 2 months, and then KhalsaC Prison about 1 months), and since then I had been telling this testimony of God's miracle and grace to any Christian brothers I met, through out serving my prison's remaining sentence of 3 months plus, and I shared with many, the hope of a miracle and I believed it had given them more faith to be close to God. And truly, I found all drug offenders with similar cases like me in both prisons whomever I met, were all way high above 5 years sentence with permanent bruises on their buttock caused by rotan canning. They were all surprised by my short-sentence. Those who were non-believers reasoned out that it was my IMH report that worked out the miracle or some said: the new Chief Justice who was more lenient to offenders; but the truth which I know was God who worked things out. (It might be through my wife's hands of persistent fight on my case, it might be through the IMH report, it might be through the sudden compassion of the Judicial system when passing the sentence, etc). Whatever that happened; I know God had spoken to me that it was Him who did it!

At this moment in Admiralty prison serving almost halfway the total term, I was still having a lot of queries in my mind about what that young retarded boy said, about ‘finding my purpose in life'. In my thinking I had a great value and purpose as declared by God. And probably God wanted to use me greatly on planet earth like being a great preacher or pastor to transform a vast majority of people. Until I met an inmate by the name of Jabez, he was an Indian Christian who liked to have fellowship with other inmates during the yard time. He suddenly passed me a book by Rick Warren titled: ‘the purpose driven life', he asked me to read just one section a day for 40 days, and no rushing. Then only that I realized my purpose in life was to come back to the Father like the prodigal son in the bible. It may not be like that great imagination I had beforehand, but it is still the greatest thing I ever did in my life.

My wife was somehow made it on her own while I was in prison; she could live clean from drugs and had a good job that could support all the children needs. Even, she was able to move to a bigger 5-room HDB flat while I was in prison. And she was getting more job-offers with better pay then. She got a job interview in Shanghai — China. However, her preference to work in China disturbed my mind, as I thought she wanted to avoid me after my release, and lead a life on her own far from me. I felt depressed and hopeless.

Then, God again strengthen my faith as this Christian brother, Jabez passed me a letter quoting Jeremiah 29:11 “for I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future”. I believed it was the message from God, because I never told this brother about my marriage life, and my most recent intention to give up my marriage when released from prison, and yet he could write after that verse: “God wants you not to leave your wife, as your wife needs you, and your children needs you, God wants you to love them like Jesus Christ loves you”. The letter also contained a HP number of Brother Francis Sim, and asked me to contact this brother upon my release. (Brother Francis has since become like my spiritual father after my release).

On 19 May 2007, I was released from KCprison after serving exactly 6 months and 2 weeks. It was the day I breathed freedom, the first time I appreciated life in my life. A life of knowing there is God who loves me so dearly.

To keep faith in the prison is much easier than outside prison, where the real world is. After the release from prison in May 2007, I had deep depression. The reality sucked: I could not have my passport as I was under Police Urine Supervision for the next 2 years, and I could not find jobs even lower level job than my last job because of my background record as an ex-convict as well as a bankrupt, and my relationship with my wife was still getting nowhere, although I had much stronger patience in me after prison, but still I felt a low self esteemed, suppressed emotion, as I could not communicate with my wife at all, I feel rejected by everyone, even my own mother and siblings still thought I was a drug addicts and my siblings put a cold shoulder on me with avoiding attitude, and my 1st son accused me of stealing my wife's money and expressed words like I am a useless person, banging table and chair at me. I resisted myself from anger instead I could only cry. I felt it was my own sin of dishonoring my parents and my violent acts against my wife in the past that I had to suffer the curse of a permanent prisoner now. A self pity's feeling, and I felt like committing suicide.

You see, I could only imagine the Love of God and Jesus. But I could not see nor feel it. And I felt God had distanced away from me and left me with a shattered life. So it is hard for me to sustain my faith in the real world, although I believe strongly and undoubtedly true that God has touched me in prison, but still my faith was shattered by the bitterness of life. I drowned my self in alcohol and cigarettes to forget the reality.

But my brother Francis Sim, in him I could feel Jesus' love again, because Brother Francis never gave up to show his persistence and perseverance to guide and advise me through his sharing of God's words, and showed me care and taught me to persevere with Jesus in my heart. He never gave up and spent his own time and money for me. And finally, he brought me to the Encounter weekend of FCBC (Community Baptist Church). To come to the Encounter itself had actually brought a heavy struggle inside me. I even had nightmares and uneasy feelings like my soul being pulled in 2 opposite directions in my dreams. I almost gave up the Encounter, and ask for the next session. But, Brother Francis still never gave me up.

I made it to the Encounter out of God's will. Because in there, I received a more complete healing. In the Encounter, Pastor Vincent Teo and Brother Francis have delivered me, they lifted out my emotional baggage caused by damaged soul and erased my guilt-ridden burden, I had full confessions and repentance, and I received the forgiveness from the Lord during the encounter. They also prayed for the deliverance of my alcohol and cigarettes addiction, and prayed for breaking all curses in my family line. I felt mentally light, felt the joy of forgiveness, and for the first time I felt no self pity anymore, I feel confident of my future life walking with Jesus in my heart.

Also, for the first time, I could feel confident to shower my wife with love and feel the joy of just expressing my love to her, without worry whether or not she would return me the same love. In the encounter, the words that touched me in regards to this was that “how are we going to fulfill God's greatest commandment, i.e. to love Him and Love one another, if we cannot even express our love to our wife who is just next to us. It has been wonderful to feel like I am a newly born person of confidence; my old self had completely died, put to death on the cross.

But, to tell the truth, Satan has and would try harder to pull me back after the encounter, as within the next week after the encounter, Satan disturbed me with the flashes of the past again to make me feel depressed. Satan whispered in my mind to touch cigarettes and alcohol again, to alleviate the sorrow. “The Bible never mentioned that you cannot smoke!, and even you smoke God will understand and forgive you” And “never mind you still have whisky; drink it, even Jesus requested to drink sour wine at the moment of His suffering on the cross”.

I may stumble and I may fall, but I believe and know for sure that Jesus Christ will never let me go, because He is not done yet with me; and He will always hold my hands and bring me back to stand up every time I fall and ask for sincere forgiveness. My faith may be as small as a mustard seed, but I intend to plant that seed deep in my heart. I discovered myself that those things of the past which might have been enjoyable to be indulged with, are now so distasteful and remorseful, and this makes me more confident to avoid them. They will never bring me peace and happiness, only meditating on God's words and Jesus' unfailing love will bring peace and joy to me.

Currently, God has shown blessing to restore my life slowly but surely. Because, miraculously my Urine Supervision has been revoked within only 9 months after my prison release instead of 2 years, with the help of a letter of recommendation from a Church in Jakarta (Indonesia), this is certainly a very rare case, and then my passport has also been returned to me and I can now travel in and out of Singapore, and although I was still unable to find a permanent job, my wife has a substantial earning power that all my family's needs can be fully provided, and we can even put aside substantial savings every month now. And best of all, I can now communicate with my wife especially by sharing bible knowledge and reading to each other on Christian books. My relationship with her is somehow in the restoration process as we walk together in Christ, I thank and praise the Lord.

My life had been in constant turbulences, darkness and never at peace before I found God. It went a long way from cradle to yard, until the most hopeless moment in my life where nothing and nowhere I could run nor turn to, but to admit that I was hopeless and submit myself to the God almighty, the father, and the son, Jesus Christ, for my only source of help and hope. This is my true testimony of life, however private it may be to me but I believe God wants me to write it out, and I will do it out of my deepest gratitude for what God has done for me in my life, for HIS true Glory and Greatness. Furthermore, my past is dead now, and I am a newly born person in Christ.

I grew up in Surabaya, Indonesia, where I was the eldest son of a well to do businessman and we prayed to ancestors and many Chinese Gods. In 1982 when I was 20 years old, my father sent me to study in Spore where three years later I met and married my wife. After marriage, I realized we both had a completely opposing set of personality and values. I did not know how to resolve our differences, as I was young, naïve, idealist, impatient, short-tempered, and stubborn. I tried to dominate her in words and physical violence to gain her submission.

Strained relationship also developed with my parents and siblings. I was under the impression they were against my wife and I fought with them to be at her side. I banged table at my father and displayed my anger to all my siblings. My father then asked me to leave his house in 1991 and he actually cursed me that I would one day suffer the consequences of my wrong decisions. I was young and proud to admit my wrongs. However, my father still gave me a sum of capital to start my own business, with a condition that I would have no future legal rights to his heir and property. I agreed and left the house with my wife and 5 children then.

We rented a small house and started a Singapore flavor family restaurant in Surabaya in 1992. Within 2 years it went bankrupt. I lost all the capital and had only enough money to buy air-tickets for my wife, a maid, and 5 children to migrate back to Spore in 1994. We all stayed in my Mother in Law’s house. My wife and I started life all over again from working as junior office assistant, and at the same time we were taking night classes to get our degree. Within 5 years, we owned our first HDB house; and my wife and I made it to the top corporate ladder. I was a financial controller in one reputable MNC and was posted to Batam (Indonesia), while my wife – a senior manager of one MNC stayed in Singapore. The distance of Batam – Singapore is only 45 minutes by ferry crossing.

– This spiritual story was written by John M Lukamto.

If you liked this story, you'll love this! We've made a list of ten spiritual stories that our readers love.

What is the Meaning / Moral of the This Story?

This story is not merely a sequence of events; it's a journey of profound spiritual significance, rich with lessons and insights that touch the depths of the human soul. Each twist and turn in this narrative offers a glimpse into the transformative power of faith, resilience, and divine grace. Let's delve into some of the spiritual truths embedded within this remarkable tale.

First and foremost, this story speaks to the transformative power of redemption. It's a testament to the boundless mercy and forgiveness of a loving God who extends His hand even in our darkest moments. Despite the depths of despair and hopelessness experienced by the protagonist, he ultimately finds solace and renewal through his encounter with God's unconditional love. This reminds us that no matter how far we may stray or how deep our wounds may run, there is always a path to redemption and restoration through divine grace.

Furthermore, the story underscores the importance of faith in times of adversity. In the face of overwhelming challenges and seemingly insurmountable odds, the protagonist finds strength and courage through his unwavering faith in God. It's a poignant reminder that even in our moments of deepest despair, we are never alone, for God walks beside us, offering comfort, guidance, and unwavering support. This echoes the timeless truth that faith has the power to move mountains and carry us through the darkest valleys of life.

Moreover, the narrative highlights the transformative power of love and compassion. Despite his past mistakes and shortcomings, the protagonist discovers the healing power of love as he experiences the unconditional acceptance and support of his Christian brothers and mentors. It's a powerful testament to the transformative power of love to heal wounds, mend broken relationships, and restore hope in the midst of despair. This serves as a powerful reminder that love has the power to overcome even the greatest of obstacles and bring about profound transformation in our lives.

Additionally, the story emphasizes the importance of self-reflection and repentance on the journey to spiritual growth and renewal. Through introspection and confession, the protagonist confronts his past mistakes and shortcomings, seeking forgiveness and reconciliation with both God and his fellow man. It's a powerful reminder that true healing and transformation can only occur when we are willing to acknowledge our faults, seek forgiveness, and embrace a path of repentance and renewal.

Furthermore, the narrative underscores the importance of perseverance and resilience in the face of adversity. Despite facing numerous setbacks and challenges, the protagonist refuses to lose hope or succumb to despair. Instead, he draws strength from his faith and the support of his Christian community, pressing on towards the promise of a brighter tomorrow. This serves as a powerful reminder that even in our darkest moments, there is always hope on the horizon, and with faith and perseverance, we can overcome any obstacle that stands in our way.

Moreover, the story highlights the transformative power of spiritual community and fellowship. Through his encounters with fellow believers and mentors, the protagonist finds strength, encouragement, and guidance on his journey of faith. It's a powerful testament to the importance of surrounding ourselves with supportive and uplifting relationships that can help sustain us through life's trials and tribulations. This serves as a powerful reminder that we are not meant to walk this journey alone, but rather to lean on one another for support and encouragement along the way.

Additionally, the narrative underscores the importance of surrender and trust in the divine plan. Despite his initial doubts and fears, the protagonist ultimately learns to surrender his will to the will of God, trusting in His divine wisdom and guidance. It's a powerful reminder that true peace and fulfillment can only be found when we relinquish control and place our trust in a higher power that holds the universe in His hands. This serves as a powerful reminder that God's plans for us are far greater than anything we could ever imagine, and that His grace is always sufficient to carry us through even the darkest of times.

In conclusion, the story you've just heard is a profound testament to the transformative power of faith, love, and redemption. It serves as a powerful reminder that no matter how far we may stray or how deep our wounds may run, there is always hope for renewal and restoration through the boundless grace of a loving God. As we journey through life's trials and tribulations, may we always remember the profound spiritual truths embedded within this remarkable tale, drawing strength and inspiration from the timeless wisdom it imparts.

Personal Reflection Questions

Spiritual stories are an opportunity to reflect on your own life. Here are 10 questions you can use to go deeper with the teachings in this story:

  1. Reflecting on the story, what role did drugs play in the protagonist's life, and how did they impact his relationships, his sense of self, and his actions?
  2. How did the protagonist's experiences in prison, particularly his encounters with individuals like Lim and Jabez, shape his understanding of faith, forgiveness, and redemption?
  3. In what ways did the protagonist's perception of God evolve throughout the story, from his lowest moments to the moments of hope and realization?
  4. Explore the significance of the young inmate's message about the protagonist's “purpose in life.” How did this message resonate with the protagonist, and how did it influence his journey?
  5. Reflecting on the encounter with Brother Francis and the Encounter weekend, how did these experiences contribute to the protagonist's emotional and spiritual healing?
  6. Consider the protagonist's struggles with temptation and doubt after his release from prison. How did he navigate these challenges, and what role did his faith play in overcoming them?
  7. Reflect on the protagonist's relationship with his wife throughout the story. How did their relationship evolve, and what factors contributed to its restoration?
  8. Explore the theme of family dynamics in the protagonist's life, from his strained relationship with his parents and siblings to his role as a husband and father. How did these dynamics shape his journey?
  9. Reflect on the protagonist's journey from a place of darkness and despair to a place of hope and renewal. What lessons can be drawn from his story about resilience, perseverance, and the power of faith?
  10. Consider the protagonist's ultimate realization that his past is “dead” and his rebirth in Christ. How does this transformation speak to the overarching themes of forgiveness, redemption, and the possibility of starting anew?


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