Paul and Silas were in jail, and they were innocent. The longer I live, the more I have come to realize that there are indeed innocent people in jail, and guilty people roaming the streets. This is a result of a fallen world, impoverished by sin. Paul and Silas are singing at midnight when a miraculous earthquake throws open all the jail cell doors. But, Paul and Silas don’t leave. How can they? There are other people in jail who need help. This is God’s assignment for them. The goal in their circumstances was not to get out of wrongful imprisonment, but to use the opportunity to serve other people in the prison!
One of my heroes of faith is a minister named Kirbyjon Caldwell. He wrote a book called, “The Gospel of Good Success”. Since 1982, he has served as Senior Pastor at the Windsor Village United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas. Now a congregation of 16,000-members, when Kirbyjon became pastor of the church, there were less than a dozen people attending. The church was located in a “not so pleasant” part of town. As the church grew, he was offered promotions and assignments to bigger and more glamorous churches. He turned them all down. His assignment was to make the community he pastored INTO ONE OF THOSE MORE GLAMOROUS COMMUNITIES.
He started by partnering with business folks to develop a piece of land into affordable single-family homes, which they sold below market value so that those in his community who never owned a home, could do so. After developing a neighborhood of over 100 of these beautiful brick homes, he went to the City of Houston and offered to donate church land to the City if they would build a brand new elementary school for the kids of that neighborhood. A new school was built. He then did the same thing with the Y.M.C.A, which built a new facility next to the new elementary school. He bought a strip mall and brought in successful entrepreneurs to teach his people how to start businesses using godly principles, and then allowed them to set up shop in the strip mall to get their businesses started. There are other creative endeavors that he has led, but I hope that is enough to make the point.
Kirbyjon has prospered; his church has grown, he has authored books, and developed business partnerships. But, he chose to stay with his church, and in his community. The result is that the church has prospered as well, and the community has become a beacon of transformation for the world to see.
We all walk through difficult circumstances, and many of us are tempted to make it our goal to escape whatever present challenge we are in. Yet our assignment might very well be to the very people around us going through the same thing! For more on this subject go to http://www.newcovenantchurch.com/resources/media/sermons.html