Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Loving prisoners: the butcher, the baker, the candle-stick maker

In this case it’s not the butcher, the baker and the candlestick maker.  It’s a doctor, a preacher, a social worker and a broadcaster.  And they’re all giving of their valuable time simply to show love to prisoners.

Dr. John Mulder, Rev. David Mulder, Lee Ingersoll and Cal Olson join me around the piano to form a musical group called SWEET FREEDOM.  Along with their fine voices, they bring a variety of instruments including but not limited to guitar, ukulele, bass, cornet, flugelhorn, whistles, djembe and tambourine.  And the category of music is limited to one:  gospel.

It all started several years ago when John Mulder and I, who have played music together for years, provided a few songs in the funeral service of a fellow prison worker.  From there the group expanded, continued doing fund-raisers for HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS, and eventually brought their talents behind bars.

Last year we presented a series of four gospel concerts in one day at the Women’s Huron Valley Facility in Ypsilanti.  We not only had a great time, but lives were touched.

Now plans been completed for an evening concert at Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon.  Those who have ever made a prison visit know that this is not some quick and easy procedure.  It’s one thing to get all names cleared through the national Law Enforcement Information Network.  That’s the easy part.  Bringing in all of the paraphernalia is another thing!  Every single item we bring in, from the largest instrument to the smallest guitar pick, must be listed on a manifest, then inspected and cleared.  This same list will be checked on our way out, to make sure that we come out with the same number of items that we brought in.  One Christian musical group just showed up at the women’s prison without all this advance preparation, and was quickly turned away.  It just isn’t easy, and nor should it be.

My reason for this lengthy piece on SWEET FREEDOM is to simply pay tribute to a beautiful group of guys, gifted musicians all, who understand the depth of meaning of Jesus’ discussion in Matthew 25 and who actually do something about it!

You can hear them, also.  They’ve prepared a fine recording…the CD is called SWEET FREEDOM.

And we’re planning a live public performance later this month that you’ll want to attend if you’re in the area:  January 22, 6-8 PM, in the Parish Hall of St. John’s Episcopal Church, 524 Washington, in the heart of Grand Haven.  We’ll have refreshments, lots of great music, and you’ll have an opportunity to show your financial support for HFP. 

We hope to see you there!

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