“I could see so many hands reaching…as if desperately reaching for hope”
Have you ever seen something happen that almost leaves you speechless?
It really doesn’t happen too often, but when it does—it stops you right in your tracks and leaves you not knowing exactly what to do.
This actually happened to Wayburn and I at our last two prison concerts, at Pugsley Correctional Facility in Kingsley Michigan, and also at Lakeland Correctional Facility in Coldwater, Michigan. Both were amazing concerts with record number turnouts. (Read about the Pugsley concert by clicking here).
At the Lakeland prison what an honor it was to have had the prison praise band open for the concert. The prisoners love using their gifts to praise God. Wayburn was on fire as he sang with everything he had, giving glory to God. He shared in between songs, pointing the men to a Father who loved them. I (Janae) shared with them how God would never leave them:
“He was in the desert with Moses, and right there in the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. He was beside Daniel in the lion’s den. There with Jonah in belly of the whale and in hole in the ground with Gideon. God was in the ark with Noah and standing beside Stephen when he was stoned. Our great God was in the prison cell with Joseph, and he’ll be right there with you. He is everywhere, every time, every day, for He’ll never leave you, never forsake, never mislead, never forget, never overlook you, and never ignore you He is everything, for everybody, everywhere, every time and in every way, and one glorious day, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that my brothers is who you belong to.”
The men in the prison never hold back when they hear the word of God spoken. In order for me to be heard I had to yell into the microphone for the prisoners were cheering and shouting at the top of their voices, showing their gratitude and love to God, saying, “Hallelujah,” and “Praise the Lord,” — “Amen!” Hands were raised toward heaven and tears were flowing. The Holy Spirit was at work! What a sight to see these men bound by walls and fences but free in the Spirit of God, the One who brings healing and hope to all who seek Him.
When we offered an invitation for men to come forward to receive Christ, groups of men immediately began to rush forward. We offer cards to fill out to let us know what decision they made at the concert. They can check the box to say they received Christ, recommitted their lives to Christ, they would like more information, are interested in a bible study, or they would like a Bible.
I was holding about 50 response cards in my hand. Suddenly I was surrounded by these men who held out their hands reaching for those cards. I could see that there were more men than I had cards for. I was passing them out as fast as I could, as so many hands were reaching. It was as if they were desperately reaching for hope. Soon, I had no more cards. The men looked at me with disappointment in their eyes. At that point, the men who had been given a card began to hand them back to me. So as Wayburn continued to sing, I began turning those cards over and giving them to the men still waiting. I asked them to fill the information out on the back. It was a great problem to have and we were so excited that there was such an interest in knowing God by the men at both of these two prisons.
As always one man stood out above the others. He was very old, walked with a cane, with teeth missing, and large black patch covering his right eye. As he approached me reaching for a card, he said to me with a low voice, stumbling over his words. “Can you help me, I’m stupid, I can’t write very well, can you fill out my card for me?” He kept repeating to me, almost in desperation, “Can you please get me a Bible? I need it right away. Please, I need a Bible.” What a joy to be able to send our friend a new Bible. May God be with all of these precious souls who were reaching for hope in Christ through the response cards of Inside Prison Ministry.
After the concert many of the men thanked us for remembering them and coming back. They were grateful for the concert and the words of hope. We will never forget these men and all the men we meet as we travel from prison to prison sharing of the forgiveness and hope found at the cross of our dear Savior. He died, and rose again to give us life eternal. We are forever grateful.