ALL MY HIGH SCHOOL BUDDIES ARE IN PRISON
Posted by Jud Wilhite or have been in prison."
Those were the first words out of my mouth as I stood in front of a packed room of about 350 ladies at the women's prison in Vegas. (This post is adapted from my wife's post at Leading and Loving It)
One year ago, Christmas Eve to be exact, we launched our first campus inside a prison in partnership with God Behind Bars. Prior to that Christmas Eve, they had never had more than a handful of people attend a service. Now around 350 women (the most that are allowed to gather at one time) meet each Saturday night for church. That's over 1/3 of the prison population.
So many of them have come to Christ in the last 12 months and are now actively sharing their faith with the other inmates. Just last week, 34 women graduated from the 8 month Step Study that is part of our Celebrate Recovery ministry. 75 women are now signed up to be part of the next Step Study that is starting. This Sunday, the team will baptize 40 women.
Monday night, Lori & I, a few staff members, and our worship band headed out to the prison for a Christmas service. I can't even begin to describe it, because words are completely inadequate. But I will say this:
Best. Worship. Service. Ever.
They sang so loudly, and screamed so deafeningly, that my ears were ringing for hours. So many hands up. And their faces ... I wish you could have seen their faces while they were praising God. Lori and I just sat there and cried.
I shared my testimony of addiction, recovery and the incredible Grace of God.
So, now, I want you to check out this video while I throw out a few thank-yous.
To Chaplain Hill: You are amazing. We are completely in awe of what you do and how God is using you to reach women and help them grow in their relationship with Him. What in incredible work He's called you to!
To Jake & God Behind Bars: We are so incredibly proud of you for following God into this mission. God is using you to impact so many lives. Thrilled that we can partner with you!
To the Drew Bodine Band: You've never sounded better! Love your hearts, your willingness to serve, and your giftedness at leading people in worship. You are all amazing!
On a side note for those who might be interested, $10 sends a Christmas gift to a woman at Florence McClure and includes nice gift bag, a Composition Notebook, a Calendar, Pens, Lotion, Deodorant, Shampoo, Conditioner, and some Candy ... all requested by the prisoners. You can go here for more information.