John Young was arrested in 1771 for preaching the gospel without a government license. He had license from his church, but as yet he had not been ordained. For six months, he and others were incarcerated in Virginia’s Caroline County jail. It was a great burden on the man because he was a widower and his elderly mother was left to tend his children.
He and the other preachers we housed individually in their own rooms rather than in cells. There was only one tiny open window, high on the outside wall, giving the prisoner nothing but the sight of clouds, sky and stars. Each of the congregations of the incarcerated men discovered which window belonged to their pastor or preacher, and on the Lord’s day they would gather in turn before their respective windows, lifting a flag high enough to let the inmate know they were there, then they would hear him preach the Word of God. In this way many people were saved, prompting the authorities to declare, “These heretics make more converts in jail than they do when out.” On at least one occasion, with those authorities looking the other way, evil men set fire to oily rags, peppers and other materials trying to prevent the preaching of Christ.
Two years after his imprisonment, Brother Young was ordained, becoming the pastor of the Reeds Church in lower Caroline County. While there, he was the first to sign a petition of 143 Christians, protesting the government’s tax for the support of “the teachers of the Christian religion.”
About 1798 John Young moved to Amherst County where he pastored until his death on this day in 1817.