Tag Archives: Prison

Incarcerated by Life?

chick freedom

My friend Chief Eisley was about to preach the Word of God at a State Dept. of Corrections facility after I had sang and listened to the DOC Choir. My heart was full and overflowing. I love these guys because they love Jesus. It’s not jailhouse religion it’s an honest to goodness meeting with the Holy Ghost in a “controlled environment.” With God in control! As Chief began to preach I realized that my Bible (which is on the same iPad my soundtracks are on, was on the platform. One of the inmates who had ran the sound for me realized I didn’t have my bible and motioned for me to use his that was on the pew beside me. I can’t tell you how blessed I was to see its well-worn cover and pages. Regardless of whether you are in Dept. of Corrections facility or a beautiful house in the suburbs the walls can be that of a prison. I’ve known wonderful people on the outside of a prison who were bound to the world and didn’t have near the freedom that the fellas last night did. It really can’t be told and do it justice, it has to be experienced to see the gladness in their hearts and on their faces. As we traveled back to our car one of the inmates carried my guitar and spoke candidly about his gratitude for being in that place. Because it was in that place that he had returned to Jesus where he found true freedom. That freedom is found in the Word of God!

Why is it that nobody cares to argue what Buddhist’s, Islam’s, and New Age religion are spouting off? Because their words do not cut like a sword. They have no power. But let someone speak the Word of God and you’ll have a multitude up in arms because Satan and his band of demonic menaces will make sure of it. The Word of God transforms lives! Prior to my salvation I would read the Word and it might as well have been Greek. I could understand the basics but the vast majority of it just seemed over my head.  But then that Sunday came…. When I met Jesus and asked Him to come into my heart and fix my troubled soul. And all of sudden, what had formerly been Greek suddenly became the plainest English I could read and O Glory did it satisfy my thirsty soul!

Following the service inmate after inmate came up to me to shake my hand, talk to me about the music and encourage my soul. They handed me poems they had written and just thinking back on it causes me to weep. They’re like anybody’s sons, uncles, dads, and friends who are incarcerated. They’re paying for their crime but they are also Brothers in Christ. And they have a freedom that those who are not saved by the blood of Jesus do not have. The freedom in knowing “It is well with my soul!”

John 8:30-34

As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.

Freedom we don’t have, From inside Prison Walls

Rock of Ages Minstry Team, Chaplin Edward Eisley and Me!

Spiritual Strongholds… seems to be a theme in my life recently. It was a theme in teen camp last week and as I walked out of the prison last night where I’d sang, I thought there was really little difference between myself and the inmates. Their prison bars were made of iron, mine were made of flesh. Both kept us from the people and things we love.

From the time I entered the sanctuary of the Salem Correctional Facility I could feel the Holy Spirit at work. The men were happy to be in that place, and had it not been for the uniforms it could have been any church in America. Actually, it was better than most churches in America, this one was filled with life! As I sang I watched several wipe tears from their eyes and a few others sat there cold and calloused to the Holy Spirit’s nudging. In all, twelve men have given their lives to Christ during the four day revival of the Rock of Age ministry.

They challenged the inmates to invite “their community’ to the services for the prize of a Bible and one man had invited 31 men from his unit. I tried to connect with as many eyes as I could when I sang, I wanted them to know that I had come to encourage them, that it wasn’t about me. Apostle Paul wrote pretty much the same thing from inside a jail cell to the Church of Corinth.

2nd Corinthians 10:1

Now I Paul myself beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ, who in presence am base among you, but being absent am bold toward you:

Base and bold. In contrast to each other, but oh so very needful in the service of Christ. If I had gone into the prison with the attitude of the entertainment industry my portion of the service would have fallen as flat as a pancake. I wasn’t there to entertain or to show pity to the inmates. I was there to lift up the name of Christ and hopefully encourage brothers in Christ, my equals, to be bold in their temporary home.

Is that not what earth is? We’re here for just a short while. A prison sentence to a new inmate seems like an eternity, and yet it’s just a little while in the scope of actual eternity.

2nd Corinthians 10:2-4

But I beseech you, that I may not be bold when I am present with that confidence, wherewith I think to be bold against some, which think of us as if we walked according to the flesh. For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

Strongholds. Those things that hold us back from sharing the goodness of God. Most of us are not behind steel bars, but there is still imprisoned. When I walked into that facility last night I was bold in the power of God, I had come to do what God has called me to do. But on the outside…it’s much harder to be bold. Ironic is it not? I felt more freedom inside a prison than outside. Outside is a scary place to me. Most don’t want to hear the gospel and they’re quite adamant, vocal and threatening about it. And I cower back into the shadows and my boldness is gone. Satan is good at what he does.

I left a little piece of my heart in the prison, I’ll have to go back and see if I can find it. I doubt I will, I’ll probably have to make several trips…

I’m heading to Prison!

I don’t really have a bucket list per say, but there are certain things I have in mind to accomplish, and one very strange thing that I desired to do was to minister in a prison. I know… I’m weird that way. But from my days of working in Magistrate court I’ve had a much higher tolerance for criminals than for some of the people supposedly working for their good. The arrogance on the part of those out of chains who treated criminals with disdain would grind my nerves bare. How could we ever hope for their correction and redemption when they were given no encouragement to change? Disrespect breeds disrespect. My burden for them likely has more to do with the fact that it was during this time of my life that I was saved; so I understood redemption. I understood that I was every bit as unworthy as the man or woman arrested and brought before our courts, the only difference was Christ had interceded on my behalf.

So when a friend and prison Chaplin asked me a few weeks ago to sing to a prison population during an in house revival, I was grateful for the opportunity. His facility houses over 300 inmates, 80 or so attend his weekly Bible study and worship hour, approximately one quarter of the population; men who found freedom from the opposite side of the bars. Many would likely say that that’s what it took to get them saved. They may or may not be grateful at this point but there will come a day when they will be.

It reminded me this morning of the story of Paul and Silas, who were imprisoned for sharing the gospel and yet rejoiced from within their dark and dank prison cell.

Acts 16:25

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.

The inmates I’m singing to tonight were likely not imprisoned unjustly, but from inside their cells they’ve discovered the freedom of Christ Jesus our Lord.

My great friend and Chaplin has such a burden for the men he ministers to. Perhaps because he was one of those arrogant people that I referred to earlier. I speak not in disrespect, it’s his story to tell and he does. As a former police officer in the State of New York, he somehow made his way to Grantsville, West Virginia and retired. Something he’s not very good at, he’s done it several times since I’ve known him. But he speaks often of his inability to see past the crime committed by someone on his watch. They were unworthy of a second chance until he discovered how many chances the Lord had given him. And now he’s where he never dreamed he would be, doling out mercy on the inside of the prison rather than doling out justice on the outside.

Today, we’ll be teaming up. He’s ministering the gospel in Word and I’m ministering the gospel in song. I’m humbled to have the opportunity. If you have a minute or two, I’d appreciate prayer. Pray first for the salvation and encouragement of souls who attend tonight’s revival, pray the songs I sing will be chosen in the Spirit not the flesh and will prepare the hearts to hear the message, and last but not least, pray for our safety traveling. The prisons a few hours away and it will make for a late night returning home. I pray blessings for your day as well!