LTRP Note: Lighthouse Trails has been reporting on this story for many years (see links below). Mr. Zodhiates was incarcerated for over two years in Federal prison and has demonstrated godly courage in the midst of persecution. He was released in 2022. If you would like to help support him, visit the 419Fund.com website. The following is an update Philip recently wrote, and we wanted to share it with our readers.
Dear faithful friend:
Blessed Christmas to you. I rejoice with you over the birth of our Lord and Savior who came to redeem us and bring peace between us and God Almighty through His shed blood on the cross.
I have been meaning to write for some time and apologize for the lack of communication. A number of folks have written and emailed for some sort of update from me to be disseminated through the 419 Fund, and I thought this would be an ideal time to not only express Kathie and my gratefulness and appreciation to you, but to also update you on all that is going on.
This past summer, the judge in my criminal case issued his refusal to vacate my sentence due to some very contrived and unjust arguments and threatened any attorney who helped me appeal the ruling with punishment, even, to my understanding, to the point of being disbarred. I had appealed to the judge to vacate my sentence due to the fact that my attorneys provided ineffective counsel because they did not reveal to me that the criminal statute under which I was convicted allowed for a parent to remove her child from the country if she believed her child was being abused in any manner.
As of the end of June of this year, my prison sentence was completed, probation and all. So now I am free to travel outside of the Western District of Virginia, and I have received my passport back from the government (although some countries do not issue visas to felons). Kathie and I praise the Lord for the freedom I now have. We only wish all of our legal battles were over. You see, the civil suit is still pending against me, our company, and our daughter.
We have encountered both difficulties and blessings since I have been at home. Physical difficulties have been especially rough for Kathie and me. I had been incarcerated for 27-1/2 months until I was finally allowed home for a weekend visit, and then two months after that till I was able to come home on house arrest. It was wonderful to be at home 24/7 with Kathie. I could eat delicious food again, sit on soft, comfortable furniture, and sleep on a bed with a normal mattress. But having literally lived and slept on a steel slab covered with a one-inch pad for 30 months, sleeping with no pillow, created a very painful “chronic holding pattern” in my back that I have been unable to rectify even with a chiropractor’s help, physical therapy, steroid injections, and ablation therapy. I cannot walk upright nor stand without severe pain. I am truly looking forward to my new body all the more!
At the same time, Kathie has been suffering severe pain, much of it emanating from the ill-advised oral surgery that some specialists now say she should never have had and which now needs to be reversed. This has all resulted from very complicated structural trauma resulting from an auto accident when she was 17. So, we two have been quite a pair! We have been able to start a small home church, which meets each Sunday and are praying for seekers and new believers to join us in in-depth study of God’s Word.
In spite of all of the difficult times of loneliness and suffering, though, I would not have chosen a different course. If you have heard me speak, you know that I consider the time of incarceration to be a blessing. God truly worked in both of our lives through the difficult circumstances, and we have developed a much closer relationship with the Lord, been refined in the process, and can now be used even greater in ministry. I would not otherwise have been able to spend the time in Bible study and meditating on the Word of God if it wasn’t for my prison sentence. Nor would I have learned of the rampant injustice and corruption of the court system and today’s American justice.
After coming home though, my probation officer gave me special permission to stay in contact with the many men whose lives the Lord had touched during my incarceration. Some have been released, some remain incarcerated. So, the ministry begun in prison does continue somewhat, as does the church that was begun, although it does not still meet every evening due to the COVID restrictions being lifted.
And as I’ve expressed before, the Lord has given me a message for the church that times of persecution are coming. Yet, they are not times to be feared. James says, “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing” (James 1:2-4).
What’s more, Paul says, “but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope” (Romans 5:3-4). He told Timothy, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution!” (2 Timothy 3:12). And to the Philippians he added, “unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake” (Philippians 1:29). And to the Corinthians, he retorted, “Every man’s work shall be made manifest . . . it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is (1 Corinthians 3:13). . . .
Jesus Himself told us, “If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20) . . . . During the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord also told us, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. (Matthew 5:10-12).
I could go on and on. Neither Jesus nor any New Testament writer claims there will be a great revival in the latter days. Rather, there will be a great persecution and a great falling away from the faith. We are now seeing this beginning to happen. Each Christian must be prepared spiritually and mentally for this oncoming onslaught against every believer. We must refuse to compromise no matter the consequences. God never promises to keep us from suffering, persecution, and difficulties. Just the opposite! But, we must remain strong. As James says, “Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him” (James 1:12).
What God did promise was to carry us through the difficult times and the times of persecution. Kathie and I can testify to the joy and contentment He provides during these trials. If we are faithful to Him, He will be faithful to us and help us endure anything that might come our way. He will use these sufferings for our own benefit and as a testimony to others.
When I was in prison, on more than one occasion believers who were also incarcerated told me God put me there to help other believers prepare for the coming persecution and imprisonment of vast numbers of believers. This I am confident God has called me to do, and I have had the opportunity to share this with a number of church bodies, small groups, and families. I am eager to take this message across the country to many, many groups of believers, encouraging them to remain strong in the Lord and refuse to compromise to Satan’s temptation—no matter the consequences. God is with us each and every step of the way.
Kathie and I have also begun to do some traveling, as our health enables us, to not only share this message, but to personally thank all of you in person who have stood by us both, writing letters and encouraging notes and cards, praying for us, and helping financially with our vast legal expenses. Please provide me with your phone number and address if you would like us to visit you.
You can contact us through the 419 Fund (firstname.lastname@example.org) or call 540-649-1999. You can also write us at P.O. Box 1842, Waynesboro, VA 22980.
Thank you again for being such a wonderful Godsend to help uphold us with your prayers, encouragements, and support. And Merry Christmas to you. Please continue to pray for us, as we desperately need your prayers. Pray for a miracle with regard to the civil suit, for our pain to subside, and for opportunities to share our testimony that God is always faithful, to be prepared for the coming persecution, and never, ever to compromise the Word of God!
In His service,