Home at last, and it is midnight, this has been a nonstop day since 6:00 am this morning. A long day. A trip planned to a major correctional facility can be an all day event! Who does this sort of thing, and why? Well I can tell you it happens day after day in these facilities. Men and women from many walks of life, average people. The likes of you and I, but what keeps us going is the “call”.
There is no monetary gain, believe me no one gets rich doing this. We hit the road at 10:15 am and today was a rainy one, to say the least. By 2:00 pm we are in “the house.” Song books, musician and earnest workers all wanting to help effect positive impact in a very challenging environment. We greet, we talk, we listen, we teach, we sing, we preach, we rejoice with them and we cry with them.
Mostly we listen and encourage, today we had a specially prepared prison teaching for the first half of our visit. Then we went to lunch, this is where “the call” reveals itself in another fashion. Who travels in wet inclement weather packing their own lunch and then all sit in group in a restaurant as a team with the one or two who may have money that day to buy a restaurant meal? Some of these folks travel everyday doing this type of thing and that gets expensive.
We sit and talk then proceed back for the second half of our trip. Once again we check in and go through the security procedures and off to the meeting room. Large group tonight that is very encouraging. The “house band” is a phenomenal group of musicians who can play just about anything.
Tonight we are experiencing a very special time. Our own musician has charged the room with her music. The inmates are singing in unison with her, all 40 of them, they seem particularly engaged. The time is charged with expectancy as inmates clap and sing. We hear a wonderful composition from a guy with obvious talent to write and sing. Another inspirational man with “the spoons” comes forth and enters in contributing to the worship. A message is delivered by one of the team members and the men listen respectfully as the speaker shares.
They connect immediately with the speaker and God does his work as usual. All of this works only because God makes it happen. For in that moment they forget their environment and are transported to another place. Time goes fast in these meetings and we find ourselves closing with an invitation for salvation and rededication. The guys are responsive and the atmosphere up lifting, many men come for prayer and counsel. Then before we know it, it is time to go.
All volunteers accounted for and scanned out and then back to the van. Dark night, heavy rain, foggy; on the outside that is. Inside the van is the exhilaration that souls have been touched today, God permitted us to have a part in that process.
We are happy and feeling blessed and ready to do it again, but first we have to get home safely. So we pray for road mercy and head back to home arriving safely at midnight.
Tomorrow some of us will do it all over again. Why, because we are called and have been given the mandate spoken by Jesus “I was in prison and you visited me” Matthew 25:36.