Tuesday, February 10, 2015

When the real reason for singing in prison finally appears

I was back behind bars…right where I like to be!

Thanks to the wonderful cooperation of the warden and program coordinator at Brooks Correctional Facility in Muskegon, HFP was able to arrange a gospel concert for inmates featuring our musical group SWEET FREEDOM. 

The moment inmates began filing into the gymnasium, where we to perform, I knew why God had sent me there last night.

-I was surrounded by guys who were incensed that the Michigan Department of Corrections had illegally removed my name from their email capabilities, but had ALSO removed all of their prior email correspondence with me, including critical legal documents.

-An inmate who has been unfairly treated by the Michigan Parole Board asked if we could intervene on his behalf.  The board has demanded that he take a sex offender course before he can be released.  BUT, because he claims he was wrongly convicted, the prison won’t let him take the sex offender course.

-An inmate who spent almost all of his life in a mental institution was finally released, and for the next 20 years this mentally ill man spent time in prison…a place where he obviously should not be.  He stumblingly asked if we could help.

-Inmates proudly reported they had made some items in hobby-craft for HFP so we could sell them as fund-raisers.

Yep, God knew what he was doing all right…putting me right there among these guys who needed our love and compassion.

Then something even more touching…

Our group of fine musicians had done what we do best---presenting fine old gospel tunes in a fresh and delightful way that pleased many inmates.

As we received hand-shakes and accolades after the service, a young man shyly approached me with tears streaming down his cheeks.  I had been hurrying through these thank you gestures, but it was obvious that I shouldn’t rush this one.  The lad grabbed my hand and wouldn’t let go.  “You helped bring me back,” he said.  I started to thank him, just as I had the others, and he kept my hand. “No, I mean it,” he said.  “I have had some serious struggles with my faith.  I have it for a while, and then I lose it.  It has been coming and going.  Tonight, you helped to bring me back.”

Then I got the message.  This was the real reason for our presence behind bars.  Doug and HFP were not at work…God was doing his thing.  He just used us to help make stuff happen.  And it did!  I don’t even know this young man’s name, but he’s in my prayers.  Keep him in yours, too.


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