January 17, 2018 (LifeSiteNews.com) – After entering prison in early December for helping a mother and daughter, Christian businessman Philip Zodhiates says that he has been awakened to the importance of suffering in the life of the Christian.
Zodhiates began a 36-month prison sentence on December 4 for helping a little girl escape the United States to avoid court-ordered visits with a lesbian “mother” who is not related to her. He is currently held at the Federal Correctional Institution in Ashland, Kentucky.
Lisa Miller and her daughter, Isabella, fled the United States to Nicaragua with Zodhiates’ help after Isabella showed signs of psychological trauma following the visits, signs described in sworn affidavits that were ultimately ignored by the courts. Three individuals who aided in Isabella’s escape have been imprisoned as a result.
“One thing that has never really dawned on me to the (extent) I’m realizing now is that we as believers are to anticipate with eagerness suffering for Christ’s sake,” wrote Zodhiates on January 8 (full text of Zodhiates' letter below). “Jesus Himself said you and I must, when we desire to follow Him, take up our own cross.”
“In Matthew 24, Jesus promises to us that we will be delivered up to tribulation and even death … hated by nations for His name’s sake. Matthew 24:9-13,” he added.
“But there is a true blessing that comes from this (Luke 6:22-23). So we as true believers are to embrace suffering for His name’s sale with all eagerness! Indeed, suffering, is one of the main themes of the entire New Testament! It is subject, expectation and realization that is constantly repeated over and over and over again!”
Zodhiates says his time in prison is enabling him to read the Scriptures more carefully, and also to organize a prayer time each evening. He plans to begin a Bible study with other prisoners soon, although he says he feels “very unqualified” to do so.
Appeal to Supreme Court being prepared
Zodhiates’ attorneys are preparing an appeal to the Supreme Court seeking to overturn Zodhiates’ conviction. Their request that Zodhiates be permitted to await the outcome of the appeal outside of prison was turned down by the Supreme Court on January 4, after Justice Neil Gorsuch submitted the petition to a vote of the full court.
Zodhiates is the third person to suffer imprisonment for the cause of helping Lisa and Isabella escape the forced visits with Jenkins. Two Mennonites, Timothy Miller and Kenneth Miller (who are unrelated to one another and to Lisa and Isabella), have been imprisoned as well. Kenneth Miller in particular served more than two years in prison for his role in the escape, and risked more prison time for refusing to testify about the involvement of others. After a judge sought to induce him to speak by placing him in jail before serving his main sentence, Miller said his time behind bars had only made his convictions stronger.
Before entering prison, Zodhiates told LifeSite that he was motivated in his actions by concern about reports of evidence of abuse suffered by Isabella. Lisa Miller mentioned such evidence in her 2008 interview with LifeSite, and LifeSite later published sworn affidavits submitted to the Vermont courts regarding such evidence.
“In 2009, newspaper reports were that Lisa’s child was being sexually abused,” said Zodhiates. “When people are suffering abuse, poverty, or injustice, and I am asked to help, I do so. Thus my natural instinct was to help her and her daughter become free of the abuse. Helping others is always a primary motivation for me, especially so when children are involved.”
To donate to Zodhiates, who has incurred massive expenses in defending himself, click here.
Zodhiates can be reached by mail at the following address:
Philip Zodhiates 18649-084
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 6001
Ashland, KY 41105
Contact the author at [email protected].
Full text of Zodhiates' letter
January 8, 2019
Dear Precious Friends,
“For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory for beyond all comparison, while we look not at the tings which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” II Corinthians 4:17-18
“. . . Who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, your also joining in helping us through your prayers, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed upon us through the prayers of many.” II Corinthians 1:10-11
I sincerely echo Paul’s sentiments and thankfulness to God for each one of you, for your prayers, support, encouragement and activism on my behalf.
I apologize I never made time to write to each of the 350 or so individuals who wrote letters on my behalf to Judge Arcara before my sentencing. I believe God miraculously used your letters to soften Judy Arcara’s heart to grant me bail, allowing me to be free pending my appeal to the Second Circuit. Plus, he set the fine at a mere $200 while the minimum recommendation in the guidelines was a $50,000 fine – with a maximum of $500,000! I was he first person he has allowed to walk out of his courtroom free on bail, I was told in a career that spanned nearly 40 years. It truly was a miracle. Thank you so much for your part!
Yet, here I am now in prison. I was ordered to self-surrender by Judge Arcara on December 5th of Ashland Federal Correctional Institution in Kentucky, once the Second Circuit District Court refused to overturn my conviction. I won’t go into the injustice of the decision. My lawyers are requesting certiori with the Supreme Court. [Denied January 10, 2019]
I know God has a purpose, and He is on our side. Kathie and I praise Him anyway, and we count it all joy, even though it is difficult – particularly for my dear wife, who I’ve never been apart from in our nearly 38 years of marriage for more than two nights.
The biggest blessing about being here in prison, however, is I have time to delve into God’s Word as never before. I am learning so very much!
One thing that has never really dawned on me to the [extent] I’m realizing now, is that we as believers are to anticipate with eagerness suffering for Christ’s sake. Jesus Himself said you and I must, when we desire to follow Him, take up our own cross.
In Matthew 24, Jesus promises to us that we will be delivered up to tribulation and even death . . . hated by nations for His name’s sake. Matthew 24:9-13
But there is a true blessing that comes from this (Luke 6:22-23). Se we as true believers are to embrace suffering for His name’s sale with all eagerness!
Indeed, suffering, is one of the main themes of he entire New Testament! It is subject, expectation and realization that is constantly repeated over and over and over again!
God has truly answered many prayers!
Since December 5 was a Federal holiday due to President Bush’s funeral, the first 18 hours in prison I spent in the “shoe” – where they shut up all of the trouble makers. That was torturous for me. And also it was an entire week till I was allowed to communicate with my family.
But the next morning at 9:30, they transferred to me my permanent unit, which reminds me of a stark college dorm – without comfort or amenities. The only bars are on the outside windows.
God gave me what other inmates claim is the best cell in the unit, with only one of three (out of more than 50in our unit) “spring” bunk beds, in the best unit on the compound – the only one with air conditioning. He gave me a terrific cellmate who looks out for me, and three men to disciple. We’ve begun a prayer time every evening and will soon begin a Bible Study. Pray I may have God’s wisdom and insight. I feel very unqualified.
As a matter of fact, my cellmate told me shortly after he came to this prison, God gave him a vision that God would bring a cellmate who would be the catalyst for a new direction for his life.
So please, continue to pray for me regularly, for whatever might be my ministry here. And for Kathie, whatever ministry God is giving her while I am gone.
I thank God for you nearly every day!
Also, I’ve been writing a daily journal that should soon be available on line. You’ll read my experiences and the observations God is revealing to me.
Please also pray for my son, William, who is suddenly responsible for running the business I began 40 years ago.
I am still expecting, in God’s perfect timing, to be released miraculously from prison. But it’ll be in a way in which God gets all the glory! Please pray with us it will be sooner, rather than later. Pray that in the meantime we will have peace, joy, patience and endurance!
This is a very difficult ordeal for all – especially for Kathie and William, and my other family. Pray for Kathie’s health. She’s been in a lot of pain and is only sleeping two or three hours a night.
If you would like to send me a note of encouragement, make sure it’s on white paper with black or blue ink only, and in a white envelope. Thank you everyone who has already written me. Send them to:
Mr. Philip Zodhiates 18649-084
Federal Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 6001
Ashland, KY 41105
Again, you are very special to me. Thank you!
In His Service,