Ministry Under Lock and Key

When the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic closed down everything back in March, my library staff struggled with how to move forward, and yet they did. In a two-week span of time my Youth Services Coordinator revamped the upcoming Summer Reading Program to be totally virtual! Crafts were made to be handed out curbside, as Facebook Live and YouTube became our new best friends.

Not only were librarians trying to figure out how to stay connected with patrons, but those in cross-cultural and local church ministry were suddenly scrambling to know how to continue language lessons, Bible studies, one-on-one witnessing conversations, and services when face-to-face was no longer an option.

How do you do ministry, when you’re virtually under lock and key?

I love how our God doesn’t leave us guessing. He gives us examples through his Word and guidance by the Holy Spirit to find the answers. I saw one in the story of Paul and Silas in prison. Their imprisonment was as a result of messing up the livelihood of the owner of a slave girl. When Paul healed her of the evil spirit that enabled her to tell fortunes, the angry owner had them thrown in jail.

Without a trial, they were stripped, beaten, and placed into a heavily-guarded inner cell, complete with stocks. You can’t get more under lock and key than that!

However, the desperation of their situation didn’t hinder Paul and Silas from ministry.

What ministry did they do? They prayed and sang hymns.

What’s ministry about that? Luke’s account tells us:

And the other prisoners were listening to them.

Acts 16:25b

Ministry doesn’t always mean we’re directly sharing the gospel or teaching or leading a Bible study.

Ministry is living by faith in the sight of others (or hearing in this case).

Well, you know the rest. God sent an earthquake (yes, he can even use natural disasters) to open the prison doors and knock off their chains, but even that proved to be an opportunity to minister. This time it was to the jailer. Once again, as Paul and Silas lived their faith by staying put instead of escaping, they gained an open door to witness to the jailer and his entire household.

So, next time you’re frustrated or down because a silly pandemic has upset your ministry plan, poke around in Scripture for examples of others who found opportunities to minister under a literal lock and key!

Then, press on in living your faith in front of (even in zoom) others.

Grace and Peace


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