In 1910 Starr Daily began serving a 20-year prison sentence in one of the most brutal prisons I have read about.
Daily was a habitual criminal, who had received leniency until he crossed the line and had to pay for his crimes.
While in prison, he became a “hero” to the inmates and a hated person among the staff. Daily was locked in solitary confinement when his plot to murder the warden was discovered.
Solitary involved standing shackled for 16 hours a day. His bed was the stone floor in a cell with frost on the walls.
No inmate in solitary had kept from breaking for more than three days until Daily’s rage and hatred kept him there for more than two weeks.
During his last night in solitary, Jesus came and revealed himself to Daily. His personality was transformed so radically that a guard who was mutually despised offered him his lunch.
Daily’s conversion was celebrated by the prison staff, but his former friends/inmates mocked and humiliated him at every opportunity.
The warden was wise enough to put Daily in a cell with a very wise and spiritual man. Even though Daily had a remarkable experience with Jesus, the warden knew he needed the support of a Christian mentor.
Daily never mentioned the name of his prison and neither did he speak of the name his parents gave him. He chose a new name to reflect his new life. He wanted to star for Jesus daily, thus the name Starr Daily.
One particular inmate tried to trip up Daily regularly. He posed a question that scholars have puzzled over for centuries.
Ben Witherington III cites 180 different interpretations of the verse that was posed to Daily.
The inmate sarcastically asked Daily about 1 Peter 3.18-19 which says,
“He was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison.”
“How did Jesus preach to the spirits in prison?” was the question.
Daily’s response was simple and to the point. He said, “Jesus came to me in prison and overwhelmed me with his love.”
Daily served his full sentence of 20 years in prison. He became a friend of the warden and was placed in the most trusted position a prisoner could hold, the infirmary.
While serving his sentence, he had articles published in “The Atlantic” magazine. When he left prison, he joined leading Christians like Frank Laubach, Glen Clark, and Rufus Moseley in the ministry.
Rudy Ross and I discuss 1 Peter 3.17-22 on YouTube today. Rudy provides a good explanation of the passage and you will want to listen to his thoughts.
Thanks for allowing me to tell the story of a hero of God’s grace.