As young children, my brother and I loved to run around and explore castles along the coast of western Africa in a country called Ghana, where we grew up and lived as missionaries. We would jump on old British-era cannons and run through tunnels. There was one particular castle experience that I will never forget: Elmina Castle.
The Lord delivered them to freedom in the most amazing way.
Like many of the other castles around Ghana’s coast, Elmina Castle was built more than five hundred years ago! It was one of the most important stops on the Atlantic slave route under the Portuguese, the Dutch, and then, later, the British. The castle has several prison cells, where men, women, and children from all over the Gold Coast were held and inhumanely treated until they were shipped off to Europe and North America as slaves.
The conditions these people were subjected to were unimaginable, and many of them died on the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. But many of these slaves, in spite of the severe oppression, sang songs and praised God while they labored in the fields. They sang songs of hope, hope for Jesus’ second coming when they would finally be delivered and taken to paradise, where they would be free.
This inspiring piece of history reminds me of my favorite Bible character, Paul, and his friend Silas. Together they were imprisoned in Philippi after being flogged. “About midnight, Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was . . . a violent earthquake. . . . At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose” (Acts 16:25, 26, NIV). The Lord delivered them to freedom in the most amazing way.
As the hour of judgment and persecution draws near, can you confidently say that you are willing to praise God even on the darkest of days? Revelation 14:7 says, “He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water’ ” (NIV). What a beautiful task God has given us! He is reminding us of His glory and majesty. God is encouraging us to prepare and make haste because the end is drawing near, when He will finally come back and take us prisoners of this sinful world to paradise—where we will be free!