Let Prisoners Run Wild

They will rebuild the ancient ruins. They will restore what had once been devastated. 

Isaiah 61:4         

 In 1852, on Vancouver Island, British settlers founded the village of Victoria. The town was built by with beauty and Old World charm. Flowers were imported from England: hollyhocks, wallflower, and mignonette.  Every home boasted a lovely garden in the front yard.  

The peaceful village of Victoria was truly idyllic.  


But all this changed in a day. On April 25, 1848, most of the 450 residents were returning home from worship when an American boat, the Commodore, pulled into harbor with 450 passengers. Instantly, the size of the town had doubled.  

Gold had been discovered. James Douglas, the governor of the area, had 636 pounds of gold dust. The colony had collected so much gold that he decided to send 800 ounces to the gold mint in San Francisco 

Once the secret was out, Americans poured into Victoria, the only port in the area, to get in on the action. Soon, the Sierra Nevada unloaded another 1900 miners. This was quickly followed by other passenger ships: the Orizaba and the Cortez. 

The new residents stripped the surrounding hills of timber and quickly erected a rowdy shantytown. The cost of property exploded. A fifty dollar city lot now sold for three thousand dollars.  

Within four months the beautiful village of Victoria exploded from 450 residents to 30,000.  


The city of Victoria, once so charming, was overrun by those greedy for fortune, but who cared nothing for beauty.   

But the city fought back, and their main weapon was the flower.  The city chose to reclaim their original British heritage. Their government buildings and hotels were constructed with an Old World design. Residents played cricket. But, more than anything else, they planted flowers.  

Today, you would be hard-pressed to find a city of more abundant and beautiful flowers. The Butchart Gardens alone overflows with 55 acres of flowers – not to mention Finnerty Gardens, Abkhazi Gardens, and countless others.  

Today, the various municipalities of the city hold annual contests to determine who has the most flowers. It is a friendly competition to be named the “Bloomingest Community.”  

A Canadian survey wanted to know how much residents loved the city in which they lived. The residents of Victoria ranked number one. Conde Nast Traveller magazine ranked Victoria one of the best cities in the world, and number one in ambience.  


Jesus’ first recorded sermon was in his hometown of Nazareth, and based on the words of Isaiah 61. He said he was the one God had sent to bring restoration. He came to restore broken hearts and let prisoners run wild. He was coming to give the mourning a crown of beauty, and to rebuild what was torn down.  

As we survey the wreckage of our lives, don’t lose sight of the One whose goal is to rebuild.   

(text copyright 2012 by Marty Kaarre)