Preaching in Prison
Today’s scripture selection: Acts 15-16
Key Verses: Acts 16:22-31
The apostle Paul never missed a chance to preach. He never overlooked an opportunity to share something – either in word or action – that would communicate something important about God.
One great example of this was the night that Paul and one of his fellow believers, Silas, were thrown into prison. Not only had they been imprisoned; they had been stripped and severely beaten. Around midnight, they were found “praying and singing” in their cell. Suddenly and miraculously, via “a violent earthquake” the foundations of the prison were shaken – and they have their chance to escape. Did they?
No – they stayed put – and the jailer who found them; who would have been required to kill himself for losing his prisoners – this man was left totally dumbfounded at his discovery.
He fell to his knees trembling before these extraordinary prisoners and exclaims, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
Paul told him. And that very night, “the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and his entire household were baptized.”
When I hear a story like that – I think of all the missed opportunities I have had to share my faith. There have been so many times when I was too tired; too distracted; too busy to take the time to be completely present in the moment and be available to the person before me, compassionately sharing my faith.
We aren’t all “apostles” – not officially, at least.
But we are called to be real; be available; be vulnerable; be caring and loving enough to recognize those times when we can really be of service in God’s kingdom.
And sometimes – perhaps often – those times come unexpectedly.
So keep your eyes and ears open. Keep your heart open too.
God may want to use you for some glorious purpose.
Even when you least expect it.
Prayer: Lord, help me to be more attentive to all of the possibilities you provide to share your love. AMEN.
By Paul Simrell
The Reverend Paul W. Simrell has served for over thirty years in a variety of congregational and institutional settings. He is a recognized minister with standing in the Virginia region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada and is nationally endorsed by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) for specialized ministry in both pastoral counseling and chaplaincy. Ordained in 1982, he has served congregations in Kentucky, Texas, Florida, and Virginia. He currently serves as the pastor of Elpis Christian Church, a small, historic congregation located just a few miles west of Richmond, Virginia. Elpis is the Greek word meaning “expectant hope.” He also serves on the associate clinical staff of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, Richmond, Virginia, both as a pastoral counselor and a ministerial assessment specialist, specializing in executive, clergy and relationship coaching. He is a graduate of the University of Florida and Lexington Theological Seminary and has done advanced clinical training in chaplaincy and pastoral counseling at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington, Kentucky, Children’s Medical Center and Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas and the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care in Richmond, Virginia. He is a Certified Pastoral Counselor, an ACPE Practitioner, and a member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. He is a Certified Facilitator of the Prepare-Enrich relationship assessment and skills-building program and served as a volunteer chaplain for over twenty years with the CJW Medical Center campuses in Richmond, Virginia. His avocational interests include playing the piano and drawing. He is very happily married to his wife Elizabeth Yeamans Simrell, a free-lance writer, who is also a Certified Facilitator for the Prepare-Enrich program.
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
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