Janae’s Inside Report: Earnest C. Brooks Correctional Facility (6/15/14)

Sunday Morning I woke up early and went to my computer to write. Wayburn had asked me to share something with the prisoners that evening for our annual “Fathers Day Concert” at Brooks Correctional  Facility in Muskegon. Wayburn would be singing 12 songs and singing with gusto for 300 people in a gymnasium and would need to rest his voice.

As the song writer the men like to hear from me and I love using my gift of writing and speaking to share the good news of Christ with the prisoners.

As I thought and prayed about what to say, God told me to write a poem, “really, Lord, do you think the prisoners are going to sit quietly and be interested in a poem”? “Yes, Janae a poem, just listen and write…there will be someone who’ll  need to hear what I will give you”.  So, I obeyed and began to write.

Late that afternoon as we walked across the yard to go to the gym to set up, the men we’re headed to chow. We heard them cheering and calling out our names thanking us for coming to give them a concert. Grateful for their excitement we waved to our brothers in Christ.

We brought coffee and donuts donated by our dear friend Marge from Marge’s Donut Den, as a gift for Father’s Day The men we’re so very thankful to have such a treat, as they don’t get either coffee or donuts in prison. My sister, Tricia came up from Lansing to support us in our ministry and she served the 300 men the donuts. We appreciated her servants heart and her cheerful spirit as she gave of her time and gifts for others.

The men had a special presentation to give to Wayburn. A beautiful hand made Fathers Day card signed with endearing messages by well over 100 prisoners. Wayburn was so moved at their thoughtfulness to him, and will treasure that card always. They love the man who comes and sings to them so often of the goodness of God.

Saulo a former student of mine who is a juvenile lifer at Brooks and is also the worship leader, started the evening with two praise songs. The men we’re excited,  fired up, and ready to worship! The prison has over 30 of our songs on their MP3 players and so we had them request their favorite songs for this concert.

As Wayburn sang our songs what a thrill and on honor to hear the voices of forgiven men fill the gym with praises to God. They knew each word and sang from the bottom of their hearts. Hands were lifted, tears flowing and there were big smiles, laughing, dancing and shouting “Glory to God”. The church at Brooks is on fire! Wayburn sang and shared of a God who gave he’s only son to save the world from their sins. The cheering and the praising was electrifying.

Our friend Ardo Dapper a resident pastor at our church, came with us and shared his testimony as a former prisoner. God was with him as he spoke and the men clapped and cheered for him. God has gifted him with the knowledge of scripture and we are so thankful for his willingness to sacrifice his time to share Christ with others.

Wayburn sang “I Surrender All” and then I was to do my poem. I was nervous and just not sure if I really should share it. As I came forward the men stood and cheered. They are always so kind and respectful.  There is such a spirit of love in the prison church.

Even as I was walking up I still wasn’t sure about the poem…God said “Just do it!

As I began to read the atmosphere in the gym took on a different tone. It was quiet and calm. The theme of the poem was based on the song “Just as I Am” which played softly in the background. I looked out among the crowd and I wondered who it was that God had me write this poem for. I saw the faces of so many, with eye staring as I read each word, when I finished Wayburn lead in a pray and invited any who would like to be forgiven and receive Christ to come forward.

Three men walked to the front and the cheering began. Our friends from church surrounded these men laying hands on them as Wayburn lead them in prayer to receive Christ.  Afterword many came and thanked me for the poem saying it was a blessing. Standing off to the side I noticed a young man around age 20, his eyes were filled with tears, and he had a look of hopelessness and deep pain. He stepped toward me reaching out his trembling hand for mine. I said to him, “Are you alright?  He simply said “you wrote that poem for me, I’m a hit man, I’ve stabbed and murdered many. I’ve tried to commit suicide twice and failed. I plotted a mass murder and I’m full of hate and that hate drives me, can you please help me”?

As I talked and prayed with him, crying he said “he was ready to give up the hate, longing for freedom and to be filled with the joy he witnessed in many of the other prisoners tonight.

I introduced him to Saulo and Raymond who are strong Christian leaders in the prison. They said they would help disciple him and the Chaplin invited him to the prison church.  Praise God for his shed blood which can heal a haters heart.

We thank God for giving us the opportunity to go into prisons. The harvest is ripe and how will they know unless we tell them. God tell us to go and so we obey!

Book your tickets