Easter 2014




Easter weekend was an experience I will not soon forget. I was invited to come to the Miami Correctional Facility in Peru, Indiana, to minister to the prisoners there. William Croto was a student at Asbury Seminary when I was there in 2005 as artist in residence. We lived in the same apartment building and Felicia and I became friends with Bill and Wanda. Bill is now the chaplain at this prison in Indiana, one of the largest in the state, housing over 3000 inmates.

I didn’t know what to expect when I went in, even though I have ministered in manny prisons across the years. I was ready for the careful security searches when I entered the facility. I was prepared to go through the myriad sliding steel doors as we made our way to the area of the prison where the chapel would meet. What I wasn’t ready for was the incredible life and freedom I found in the hearts of these men who were imprisoned here.

Chaplain Croto has given the men a lot of freedom in how the church is operated. The worship team, the elders, and pastors are all part of the prison population. When the first prisoners arrived for the service, they began to practice . They were the members of the band and praise team. Soon, it became evident, they weren’t practicing. This was the real thing. They praised from their hearts, even though they were the only ones in the room. The Spirit of God was so present. As they continued to “practice”, other inmates began to arrive. Soon the room was filled with men with their hands lifted high and their voices raised in worship.


I was received as though I were royalty. They were so appreciative of my being with them on this holy Easter weekend. I wish you could have seen how they responded to the stories. They roared with laughter at times and then there were those moments when you could hear a pin drop.



The Spirit of God was so evident and moved deeply in the hearts of these men. I spoke several times over the weekend and each time saw the front of the chapel fill with men praying together. On the first night, we even had an inmate receive Christ.


One of the highlights of the weekend was on Saturday morning, when nine baptisms took place. They rolled a large portable baptistry into the hallway and filled it with water, using a dozen trash cans and several volunteers. After it was filled, the worship leader led the room in a wonderful version of the old spiritual, “Wade in the water”. They sang as all nine were immersed. It was something to see these men come to the baptistry with their tattoos and dreadlocks. When they came out of the water, the expressions on their faces was captivating. We were on holy ground.

On our last evening together, the pastor of the prison chapel came and asked if I would do two stories for them. They set aside the time they would have used for singing and testifying so they could hear more of the Bible stories. Chaplain Croto said the stories were the talk of the prison!

Now this will bless you. For several months Chaplain Croto had sent payments ahead to pay for air travel and an honorarium. I thought he was using money from his budget to do that and I was very thankful. But I became even more grateful, when he told me that it was the prisoners who had paid for me to come. They had been tithing on the wages of .10 to .20 cents an hour they make in the prison shops. From those tithes, they had chosen to bless our ministry. Talk about humbling! I was amazed and blessed beyond words.

I will never forget these amazing men or the weekend we shared together this Easter.









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