Home Voices The Exchange Three Kinds of Lost People Who Need to Be Found

Three Kinds of Lost People Who Need to Be Found

This young slave girl was enslaved spiritually and socially. Spiritually, she was oppressed by a demon. She couldn’t control the demonic outbursts that emerged from her mouth. Socially, she was oppressed by a sinful social structure and system called slavery. Her masters exploited her demonic powers in a way that brought them much financial gain. In today’s verbiage, these men were pimps who pimped this girl to fill their pockets with money. 

In her enslavement, she wasn’t looking to be found. She didn’t even know she was lost. And Paul, at least at first, wasn’t going to do anything about this girl’s enslavement. It wasn’t until the demonic activity infringed upon the gospel’s work that Paul acted. His activity freed the girl spiritually from the demon. We don’t know what happened to her social enslavement. Many scholars believe—that because of the location of the slave girl’s story between Lydia and the Philippian jailor—she came to faith in Christ and became part of the church in Philippi. But to be clear, we aren’t certain. 

What is certain, there are human beings spiritually and socially enslaved—both “in” and “by” sin as well as the structures and systems created by sinful human beings. As a result, not only are they lost but they don’t know they are lost. They are hiders who are in desperate need to be freed in order to be found by Jesus. Therefore, the response of churches and believers in these cases are to employ ministries to care for and minister to those enslaved. 

Ministries like Alpha, QPlace, and Christianity Explored provide safe environments for non-Christians to ask questions about the faith. In addition, ministries of mercy seek to care for the hurting, oppressed, marginalized, and vulnerable who are trapped (enslaved) by sin and the effects of a sinful world. Both kinds of ministries provide safe environments where the enslaved can be freed in order for them to be found. 

A word of caution about ministry to those who need to be freed to be found. In engaging in gospel ministry, we must be aware of spiritual warfare. Similar to Newton’s third law of motion—for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction—there is the law of Gospel movement. For every gospel action there is an attempt by the spiritual forces of darkness to provide an equal and opposition reaction. In other words, Gospel ministry causes friction as it elicits the forces in opposition to the gospel to react. Paul’s gospel ministry to this enslaved girl brought about them being seized, dragged to the authorities, beaten with rods, and thrown into prison. 

Philippian Jailor—Some People Need a Crisis Intervention to Be Found

The last person in Philippi that the Lord seeks out before Paul and his team leaves is the Philippian jailor. Once again, the Philippian jailor isn’t looking to be found. The Philippian jailor is a pagan serving the government. His job description: keep order in the prison and make sure no one escapes. If a prisoner did escape, the prison guards would be put to death.  

While Paul and Silas prayed and sang, God sent a great earthquake that shook the prison grounds, flung open the prison doors, and loosened the prison chains. Prior to this moment, it must had been a quiet night as the keeper of the prison was in REM sleep. But this event startled him—awakening him from his sleep. As he became alert, seeing that all the prison doors were open, he assumed all the prisoners had fled. Knowing that such a prison break would cost him his life, he took his sword and was about to kill himself (Acts 16:27). However, at that moment, Paul intervened and told him, “Don’t harm yourself, we are all here.” 

After a couple of short exchanges, the jailor brought Paul and Silas out and asked, “What must I do to be saved.” 

I think it’s safe to assume that prior to this evening the jailor had no interests in the religious beliefs of Paul and Silas. Yet, in his moment of crisis when he thought all was lost, these men—whom he had heard sing and pray with joy all night—intervened and saved his life. As a result, he wanted to know the salvation that they prayed and sang about all night. 

Today, it is imperative we have a life marked by the joy of the gospel regardless of our circumstances. In addition, we must be aware of those around us. While many are not ready to be found, there will be those who experience a crisis in life that puts them in a vulnerable position of them needing to be found. This can be a family, identity, or vocational crisis. Regardless of the crisis, we must have the discernment to intervene and be ready to give an account of the gospel. 

In closing, people are lost. People are hiding from God. That’s what sinners do. However, God is finding people through his church. May we be a conduit by which God finds those who are ready to be found, who need to be freed to be found, and those who need crisis intervention to be found.