Another Prison Visit.

Today was wonderful…the Praise Team from our church made our third trip to a men’s prison and, even with a few bumps along the way, everything ended up going perfectly.

Our last visit to NCCI was a disappointment in some ways. A huge thunderstorm ended up blowing in just a little while after we arrived which meant that we had to pack up all of our music and instruments to head on home without getting to do our portion of the service. The non-disappointing part of that service was that before we were “evacuated”, we did get to listen to the prison’s Praise Team perform (which is fantastic!) and one of the men who attended the service with us, Floyd Blaine, was able to give his testimony to the prisoners. Floyd doesn’t actually attend our church any longer…he is involved in another church now…but I was able to serve on our Praise Team with him and his wife for several years and grew to love both of them very much. He is now reaching the final stages of cancer and his testimony of his faith and love for Christ even in the midst of what he was dealing with was incredibly powerful to listen to.

Today’s visit was also very moving for me. Several people from our church gave their testimony…one of them was my sister, Janine. I have to tell you, one of my greatest fears of all is public speaking. I will do almost anything to get out of public speaking. Playing a piano solo in front of a group of people? No problem! I can hide in my little corner of the sanctuary and play away. Speak into a microphone while looking out at a sea of faces? No way, no how! Please just put me out of my misery now. I have heart palpitations just thinking about it. So, I was very impressed with those who were able to stand up in front of a group of men that they don’t know and share what the Lord has done for them. It was incredible to me that I learned new things about people at our church…people that I have known for years. And yet I learned about extraordinary circumstances that they have gone through and watched them give all the glory to the Lord.

I am so thankful right now that I am able to be involved in this ministry. It has been a blessing to see men in prison who truly are trying to do what is right now, even as they pay the consequences for whatever the transgressions are that they have done. It has been a blessing to watch the same men attend the service every single time we have been there and watch them voluntarily sit through two and a half hours of worship, testimonies and preaching when they could easily be spending their free time out in the courtyard playing basketball instead. Our missionary we attend these services with, Larry Skrant, has warned us over and over that you can’t be taken in by the prisoners…in other words, if they started to try to learn more personal information about us or if they acted inappropriately towards us, that would be a huge problem. So far though, we have only experienced respect and thankfulness from the men that we have come in contact with.

I’ve learned that I tend to arrive at the prison praying that I can somehow be a blessing to the prisoners…and I always end up leaving the prison knowing that I am the one that has been blessed by the worship that I was able to experience. It’s been a blessing that I’ve come to appreciate very much.