Pastor Phillip Miles from South Carolina who was sentenced to three years in a Russian prison for smuggling ammo was freed from a Russian prison after seven months, the sentence reduced to time served, reports CNN New Fox News. The pastor had not thought too much about carrying in a $25 box of rifle shells, nothing fancy, and nothing that isn't commonly available in Moscow, but that was a really bad idea.
Various news agencies talk about various aspects of it... the injustice of imprisoning a man who for 30 years has done nothing but help people; the (lack of) wisdom of a man carrying ammo of any kind into another country; an unfortunate 'cultural gap'; evidence of an 'arrogant American attitude'; the unfounded harshness of a 'smuggling' charge; how his time away will help him be a better husband; but it was another aspect that caught my attention as I listened to the story on K-Love radio.
The ordeal has fired up the church with a tremendous sense of unity and purpose. It's been a real rallying point for people in the church to step up while he has been away. Prayer, attendance, and involvement in ministry have all gone way up in the past seven months. Everyone is eagerly planning a celebration time for when he returns, then - like it or not - they're sending him away with his wife and children for some much needed rebonding time, before he comes back to serve the congregation.
What a great Christ-like response to a bad situation. Let's not wait for our pastor to be snatched away in a foreign prison before we love on him and his family, turn our hearts in earnest to prayer, love and unity, and stepping up in ministry to do what God has called us to do! :)