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How the jailer was caught

When D. L. Moody, the famous American evangelist, was holding meetings in St. Louis in 1880, the Globe-Democrat announced that it would publish daily reports of his sermons. One night Moody preached on the conversion of the Philippian jailer, and the next morning the paper came out with the sensational headline, “How the Jailer Was Caught!” A copy of the paper fell into the hands of Valentine Burke, a notorious prisoner awaiting trial in the city jail. Burke thought he had once passed through a town called Philippi in Illinois and so was anxious to read of the fate of its jailer. When he realized that the GlobeDemocrat was reporting what had happened in ancient Macedonia, he was disgusted. But he could not shake off the text, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” God used it to convict him, and there in his cell, at midnight, he prayed for the first time in his life. The following Sunday he spoke with Christians who held services in the jail and was led into the light of the gospel. Burke was a changed man, and when he came to trial, the case against him was not pressed and he was released on a legal technicality. Later he became a sheriff’s deputy, and when the sheriff turned over to him his official photograph from the rogues’ gallery, Burke compared it with a recent one: “Notice the difference in the enclosed pictures. See what our holy religion can do for the chief of sinners” On the back of the old photograph he inscribed Psalm 113:7-8: “He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth the needy out of the dunghill; that he may set him with the princes, even with the princes of his people.”

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