The Gospel Express Prison Crusade was, for us, different this year than any other. We have never experienced the amount of unrest, tension, and corruption that we saw firsthand in the prisons this year. It is quite understandable that as our culture gets worse and worse, and continues to slide further away from godliness, that the effects will be seen everywhere in the world, prisons included. But witnessing that transition, and seeing the change that occurred even in a year, was very sobering. Personally, I was reminded that each opportunity to enter prison is a gift, a privilege; not something that I deserve or should take for granted. We have no idea how much longer we may have the opportunity to be allowed ministry of this kind, and that really hit me this year more than ever as we saw all the change that has been taking place.
Sadly the entire five days went by with literally only several pictures taken. Above, was our "bus pizza party" with fellow singers, the last night of the crusade. Our services were during the day, around noon/early afternoon this year, which meant that the days were full but the evenings were usually free. It was a totally different schedule from our normal music schedule but it was really good. We were blessed by the morning worship sessions with our "hub" group in Sumter, and the opportunity t interact with the other teams, evangelists, and volunteers. The bus party (as I was saying above) was the last night, and a great celebration of the week.
*Not pictured are the parents, who went out to eat and were, most likely, enjoying a
much less high-energy + high-volume night than all the kids. =)
Below are a few thoughts from several of my siblings, from the week:
Testimony from Taylor:
"This year as we sang in prison, God convicted me of taking my family for granted. Sadly, most of the men and women in prison did not experience a parent’s love because their father and mother were nominal or absent parents. For those of you who do have loving parents, I encourage you to be grateful for them, and never take God’s blessings for granted."
Testimony from Allison:"Our time in the South Carolina prisons was different this year than previously, but one thing that was so clear to me was how very capable God is of working and moving despite any roadblock. One particular day we had just gotten through security in the prison where our service was scheduled to be held. Upon arriving in the visitation room, we were informed that there had just been a stabbing in the prison. Usually, such an event would mean a speedy evacuation of all visitors and volunteers (us) from the prison. In this case, they allowed us to stay, although we were told that the inmates may not be allowed to attend the service. We set up all our equipment and spent time in prayer, praying for men to be allowed to attend the service. Not only did they guards bring inmates to the service, but a special part of the compound called the Shock Unit- young men put into prison for 90 days as a warning/wake-up call- were allowed to attend. The service turned out to be incredibly blessed and special and we saw the Lord mightily working, especially in the young men's hearts. I was reminded that although "with man, it is impossible", "with God, NOTHING shall be impossible!" Although there was great spiritual warfare with the stabbing and all, that day, we were still able to minister to men in that institution and see various ones encouraged, challenged, and even several born again!"
So many memories made on each other's buses! Best of times!
"And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad
in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."