The venue was First Congregational Church in Muskegon, Michigan.
The date was Sunday, August 25, 2019.
The occasion was the final public performance of HIS MEN, fine musical ensemble that I helped put together in 1972. After a run of 47 years, the sunset finally arrived.
I’ll never forget the date, nor the experience of actually directing the singers in their very last piece of music. Bittersweet, to say the least. It hurts.
But that’s not what’s sticking in my craw today. Instead, I’m reviewing and rethinking one little sentence recited in a prayer. Dave Wikman, well-known Muskegon musician, was offering the morning prayer. With all that was going on, I must confess that my thoughts were drifting. Then came this little petition: We pray for those who have no one to pray for them. Whoa!
The writer of the prayer couldn’t have known this, but that was the hidden message behind the entire mission of HIS MEN! For 47 years these guys went into jails and prisons, hospital rooms, nursing homes, orphanages, tiny venues and obscure mission stations, bringing sunlight into the darkened lives of the forgotten and disenfranchised.
And, the writer could not have known that the “crooked stick” who founded HIS MEN, was also the founder of HUMANITY FOR PRISONERS. And that petition is also the hidden message behind our mission statement. As we daily seek to provide personal assistance to Michigan prisoners who don’t know where to turn, in actuality we are remembering those who have no one to pray for them.
I’m feeling sad today. There’s a part of me that says the echoes of the music I heard yesterday should never die away. But, this isn’t the first time I’ve had to learn that one should never try to convert a period at the end of a sentence into a comma. On the positive side, no one will ever know the impact of that ministry of music.
Perhaps HFP won’t last any longer than 47 years, either. This frail human being couldn’t control the destiny of HIS MEN, and the same holds true for our prison work.
But I can tell you this: With the exciting combination of determined directors, dedicated volunteers and committed staff members, today we are going to remember and serve those who have no one to pray for them.
There can be no higher calling.