After [Paul and Silas] had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. Upon receiving such orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Witnessing can be pretty straightforward. In the court room, witnesses simply are asked to tell what they have seen and heard. Witnessing one’s faith in Jesus, however, can be met by hostility. Anger, sarcasm, or worse can come from a family member, a college professor, or a co-worker.
Missionaries Paul and Silas were in Philippi. For several days their efforts were disrupted by a demon-possessed, fortune-telling, slave girl. Her fortune-telling was a great moneymaker for her owners. Each day she identified Paul and Silas, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved” (Acts 16:17). Although what she said was true, that they did proclaim salvation through faith in Jesus, who would believe her? In Jesus’ name, Paul cast out the demon.
Immediately the owners saw their source of income vanish. False charges led to a severe flogging for Paul and Silas, and a night in the stocks in the inner cell of the jail.
Into the night, Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God, “and the other prisoners were listening to them.” In their misery, Paul and Silas did not turn against God, but turned to God in prayer and song. It was an unplanned witness of humble trust in the wisdom and love of God. An earthquake that jarred open all the cell doors; every prisoner remaining in place; a jailer stopped from falling on his own sword… all led to that jailer’s question, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Unexpected! Unforeseen! Amazing!
Don’t expect earthquakes, but your trust in Jesus as your Savior guides you in the way to deal with earthly life that can lead to precious, unforeseen witnessing opportunities. Our children praying aloud with us at the restaurant, or our family members comforting one another in the Intensive Care waiting room can result in witnessing.
Witnessing is never “force-feeding,” but unforeseen witnessing opportunities will arise as we “let our light shine.”
Lord, help me be ready to witness when those unforeseen opportunities arise. Amen.