When Jesus Comes For You

After years of mistreatment, Armando Valladares was an emaciated, crippled shadow of his former self. He was serving a 30-year sentence in one of Castro’s prisons for the crime of praying in a church on Christmas Day. Prison officials starved, tortured and humiliated the man, but he refused to give up his faith.

Something kept him going: a promise he’d made to a young woman named Martha. They had met and fallen in love while he was in prison. She was deeply attracted to his passionate faith. Shortly after the couple married in a civil ceremony in the prison’s bloodstained courtyard, Martha was forced to emigrate to Miami.

Their separation was very painful. But Armando managed to smuggle out a promise to his beloved. On a tiny piece of discarded paper he scribbled his pledge: “I will come to you. . . . The bayonets in the horizon beyond my back will no longer matter.”

This prisoner determined that somehow he and Martha would make their vows in a church before God. Someday their union would be complete. “You are always with me,” he told her.

Armando’s promise kept him going through years of mistreatment that would have destroyed the spirit of most men. And it kept Martha going. She worked tirelessly to bring public attention to her husband’s plight. She never gave up hope.