Singing In Prison

Apr 24, 2017

By Rev. Margaret O'Neal, friend of PCA

23 After they had been severely flogged, [Paul and Silas] were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. Acts 16:23-24

In this story about Paul and Silas in prison do you remember what these men were doing after being stripped of their clothing and beaten with rods, and then placed in stocks in an underground cell?  Instead of feeling sorry for themselves, they were praying and singing hymns to God.  It’s beyond my comprehension since most of us would be feeling very sorry for ourselves and licking our wounds.  But Paul and Silas?  Well, they were singing and praying.  Why?  Because in God was their hope.  And this was their mission field…in the dark dank corners of a prison.

There are a lot of lost men and women in prison as there are lost people throughout the world.  But the good news is that the good shepherd is there to seek out the one who is lost. 

Paul and Silas were freed from their prison cell.  God caused an earthquake so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken.  Immediately the doors were opened and the chains were unfastened. The prison guard was ready to kill himself, believing that his prisoners would escape.  Instead Paul reassured him that everyone was there, and then the guard wondered what he had to do to be saved.  “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, you and your household,” Paul told him, “and you will be saved.” 

But the story did not end there. The guard took them to his own home, washed their wounds, and then he and his household were baptized. They celebrated over dinner and there was great rejoicing.

My husband, Rev. John O’Neal, was one of the founders of Living Stones Prison Congregation in Shelton, Washington.  Before he was a pastor and church founder he had been a prisoner in that same institution.    After I met John, he wanted to be very honest with me about what had happened in his past.  One day we drove down to Shelton to the prison. I must say that my insides were doing a number on me by that time as I wondered what I was getting myself into.  We went into the reception area and lo and behold, there were guards who recognized John and greeted him warmly.  And then one of them invited us to his home for dinner that evening.  It was a living out of the story in Acts.  A prison guard inviting his former prisoner to his home for dinner.  An act of hospitality I shall never forget. God is at work indeed in the hearts and lives of those who have been lost but are now found.    

Category: Witness

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