Paul and Silas

On this Fourth of July, I celebrated American liberty and freedom in the most sensible way possible. By going to prison. 

Every Wednesday, I have the privilege of going into the women’s prison with a faithful African Christian woman and a faithful American woman missionary. We get to love on the ladies there and study the Bible with them. This Wednesday, just because it was the Fourth of July, was no exception. Except it was exceptional.  

We were studying John 8 when the Pharisees are questioning Jesus and just really not understanding at all who he is or what he is all about. At one point, they ask Jesus specifically, “Who are you?” And Jesus basically tells them, “What I’ve been telling you all along.” (v. 25)

So the question was raised, who has Jesus been saying that he is all along? After studying eight chapters of John together, these ladies have learned that he is the light of the word, living water, bread of life, the Lamb of God…and all those answers were given eventually, but a Muslim woman was the first one to speak up. 

“He is the One who is sent from God.” 

A little while ago this same woman was completely hostile towards Christianity and would not even attend the Bible study. Even now that she attends, she is mostly quiet and I wonder what she is thinking or if she is even following at all. And then she said this, and I know she has been listening all along. For if one thing is certain from reading the first eight chapters of John, she nailed it. Jesus is the One who is sent from God. 

Now whether she believes what she says and has made a confession of faith in him is entirely unknown to me. But what I do know is that she is hearing. She is listening. She is understanding. And God is revealing truth to her. 

Throughout the Bible study this particular independence day, we did several spontaneous outbreaks into song. Something we read would remind one of us of a song, and she would sing it, and then we others would catch on. This happened a couple of different times. And this wasn’t timid singing, this was like Paul-and-Silas, belt-it-out worship resonating in the prison walls. 

Come to think of it, I didn’t hear the national anthem this Fourth of July. But I sure heard and international anthem of freedom and liberation in Christ. And it came from inside prison walls from people who have been set free. 

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