Listen. Do you hear it?
A sound like sawing logs. A sound coming from a prison. A prison in Philippi. The jailer is snoring!
He’s fast asleep. And his prisoners are all safely locked up for the night. But there’s another sound. Do you hear it?
It’s coming from the very middle of the prison. The place from which no one escapes. And it’s coming from two of the prisoners.
Listen closely. Are they moaning and groaning?
They could be. Their backs are bruised with the beating they were given. Their feet are locked up in stocks. But that’s not it.
Listen again. Are they complaining?
They could be. They really shouldn’t be there, you see. They were only helping a slave girl they met while walking through Philippi. Helping her through the power of Jesus, who died so we can be forgiven, who came back from the dead so we can live for ever, and who sent his Holy Spirit so we can follow him as our king. But her masters got angry and had them thrown in jail.
Listen once more. Listen closely. Do you hear it? A simple tune…a set of words. They’re singing!
That’s what they’re doing. Singing songs of praise to God. And every other prisoner in the jail is listening to them.
Their names are Paul and Silas, and they have come to Philippi to tell everyone there about Jesus, who died so we can be forgiven, who came back from the dead so we can live for ever, and who sent his Holy Spirit so we can follow him as our king.
And even though they don’t deserve to be in jail, they trust God and take this chance to tell the other prisoners about him.
Hang on! Do you hear it? There’s another sound.
It’s a rumbling sound. A grumbling sound. A sound from deep beneath the prison. A sound rising up from the ground. A sound like a shouting chorus to their songs. It’s an earthquake!
That’s what it is. It shakes the walls and the floors. It knocks the doors off their hinges and the locks from off the stocks. And now every prisoner is free!
Ask your children what they think happens next. Read Acts 16:27-40 together to find out! This is the first part of Bob Hartman’s brand new book, The Prisoners, the Earthquake and the Midnight Song (The Good Book Company). Get hold of the book to read the rest of this story.