The most unique experience we have had in PA so far has been in Frackville. Yup, we got sent up to state prison. No, we didn't break out any Johnny Cash songs. Florence's dad, who's a chaplain there, got us on the inside to share with the Sunday night worship services with the inmates. So we went in through all the checks and high security, and then had a great experience in church!
As we were told by experienced folk, the crowd will be made up of two parts: genuine believers who have "found Jesus", and those who come to chapel just to have something to do.
We were amused by the prison twist on a familiar way to start a church service. "Anyone new here this week?" Which meant, is anyone here just starting their prison term? And then, "is anyone going home this week?" To which one guy shouted "I am home!" And everyone laughed.
We were amazed at the reception we got from the believers there. They were truly into the worship experience, which was some good old-timey gospel hymns accompanied by a guitar. And then they were so responsive to our stories from Africa.
For a group of men who are really down in life, they really cared about what was going on in Africa. They broke out into spontaneous applause in the middle of stories from the handicap center. They shouted encouragement as we explained what we do. It was a really good time for us to see some believers who were not in a good situation in life, and yet they loved Jesus and his church in Africa all the same.
They even let us out when we were done. :)
"For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God." (1 Corinthians 1:26-29)