"I was in prison and you came to visit me.
Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
Matthew 25:36c & 25:40 (NIV)
The sound of the closing bars had a shallow finality to them that made me shiver. I walked down the long noisy hall through the 'Ellis Unit' at Huntsville Prison in Texas. I tried to keep my eyes forward, toward the Chapel. I didn’t want to see the reality of the prison and how the men lived there. I didn’t want to see the despair and lost looks in the eyes of so many of the men. I did not want to see the arrogance of the “correctional officers.”
My steps carried me to the beautiful Chapel which was handmade by the “residents” of this infamous prison. As soon as I walked through the doors, I myself was cocooned in the warmth of God's love. There were many men who remembered me from my last few visit's. They shook my hand and hugged me. They looked at me and their “thank -you’s” were from the heart.
Two-hundred-and-forty men filled the handmade, wooden hall. I had my friend, Kurt Meyer there to blow the Shofar. While he was filling the room with the ancient sounds of “the call”…. a young African American man next to me asked, “Man, what is that thing?” I told him as best I could. "It makes me feel like I’m back in Egypt or around there, a couple of hundred years ago.” He shook his head....I knew what he meant; that the power of this ancient call to worship, the Shofar, drew him into the Holy of Holies ready to worship The King. It was great to watch.
I followed the Shofar and immediately began with Psalm 122, “Pray For the Peace of Jerusalem.” This is not the usual subject that is spoken about in the prisons I have been in and I suspect it is not the main topic of conversation in most correctional institutions world-wide… The population waxed still and the words of Scripture along with the music, including some very low notes, really got their attention. One man walked out, the rest, 239, stayed and we rode on the wings of heavenly music sung in Hebrew, Spanish and English for almost three hours. I sang to the Lord, carrying them through the praise section into the Holiness of Worship. These men, Black, Brown and White swayed together, sang, cried and laughed together .... a vivid recollection of Ephesians 2:12-13, “One New Man in Messiah Yeshua.”
I told them funny stories and had a question and answer period where I made it clear that “I don’t know” was the answer of choice for the theological and theoretical questions but that I would answer all that I could and I would try to help them find people who had a Messianic background to help them in their understanding of Scripture as it was written.
I was shocked when my host, one of the Chaplins told me that he had gone to a Messianic Synagogue in Houston and asked if they would help him.... just to make some books and information available to the “offenders”.... maybe even get the “Rabbi” or one of the elders interested in going out there and teaching a part time Bible study on a regular basis to offer Spiritual nourishment for these children of God. This Messianic "leader" told Chaplin Alan that, “Our group doesn’t have time for jail Ministry… sorry we have a new building fund we’re working on plus we have many of our own folks who have problems that take up all of our time.”
It seems to me that few are called to go into the prisons. Whatever the reason, it does not compare to the uplifting joy and fulfillment I received as a messenger, vocalist & brother in sharing this very special music with these men. Are they perfect? No! Are they victims of their mistakes? Yes! Is it my job to judge them and withhold the Lords music from them because of what they have done? No! None of that matters in my particular case. I was born to sing. The Almighty never told me not to go into the prisons and share His love, His mercy or His Grace. After all, if He withheld all those things from us simply because we are sinners, then no one would ever get “saved” and no one would ever know that sweet thrill of being consumed with His lofty and awesome faithfulness!!
It is a pull and a tug from The Lord to go out and share His music in the prisons.....but oh how I thank Him for this awesome opportunity. Practically speaking, sure, it doesn't pay the bills but the reward is ever so great!!
Sharon and all of us at Settel International welcome your input, your prayers, your love & your support so we may continue to bring the Love, the mercy, and the symphonic Grace of our Abba to the fallen.
Love & Blessings & a Very Prosperous New Year!