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Paul and Silas were targeted by a wild young woman while walking on a busy street in Philippi, Greece.

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

A Quiet Observer, part one

I was on a busy street in Philippi, Greece walking beside Paul and Silas. New sounds surrounded me. Chariots, wagons, Roman soldiers, and salespeople shouting from their food stands! I wasn’t used to the strong smell of horse manure on a main street.  There was a huge selection of local and foreign foods—many kinds of beans and peas, coarse brown bread, fine white bread, figs, dates, and olive oil from Africa and Spain.

I wished I could stop and smell the displays of spices and perfumes from India, China and the Arabian Peninsula. There was even a special spice from Afghanistan.  I tried to listen to the intense conversation Paul and Silas were having. I heard Silas say,

“Paul, I know you’re upset about this wild young woman. She targets us every day we walk down Main Street.  Here we are visitors; and she’s embarrassing people away from us, especially when she is screaming about us.”

“I am frustrated, Silas. What the fortune-telling girl says is true, but what a miserable way for us to be introduced!  Listen to her.  Now!”

The slave girl was screeching, “These men are servants of the Most High God, and they have come to tell you how to be saved.”

Paul turned around, faced the slave girl, and ordered, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.”

A change came into the woman’s face.  Tension and confusion were replaced with calm.  Her eyes seemed to see more clearly.  She looked at Paul and smiled shyly. Her owners were shocked. They took her to a street booth for fortune-telling.  Paul and Silas watched as she sat where previously she had earned money by telling people their fortunes. She did not know what to do now.  Her masters’ source of income had vanished and ewww they were furious!

Violently they dragged Paul and Silas to the city center to the city officials. A curious crowd gathered. The slave girl’s masters were smart. They knew what lies and accusations would most arouse the officials and crowd.

“These men are Jews and greatly disturbing our city. They are teaching the people new customs, which violate our Roman laws. We are a prosperous and important Roman colony. These men want to destroy our culture.”

The crowd became a shouting mob and the officials were convinced that Paul and Silas needed to be punished. They ordered, “Strip off the clothes of these two Jews. Beat them with rods and throw them into prison.” The jailer was instructed harshly, “Do not let these men escape.”

The jailer put Paul and Silas into the maximum security dungeon and locked their feet into stocks. Their broken skin oozed blood through dirt and sweat, and their bruises swelled and pulsed with pain.

Other prisoners around them began hearing strange sounds. What were they…not curses, yells, or cries from torture. What was happening? The prisoners became very quiet. Were the two new prisoners singing? Of course not! But, yes! They were singing and praying to God. Joy was in their voices. How come? Who were these men?

Soon we’ll get some answers after an earthquake violently shakes the prison’s foundations. Prison doors will fly open; prisoners’ chains will be loosened; and no prisoner will escape. How come?

This is Barbara Steiner, a quiet observer, in 67 A.D.

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