This past February, Prison Fellowship celebrated Black History Month with a tour of African American artists who led an evangelism campaign in Illinois. The tour featured Rev. Arthur Hallett, a jazz musician and songwriter, The Gideon Crew, a Detroit-based Christian hip hop duo, and Gospel singer Sonnie Day.
Of the 13 prisons that the group visited, the event at Hill Correctional Facility was by far the most memorable. More than 300 men, many of them raucous and unruly, packed the gym.
“It was quite challenging,” remembers Michael Miller, a Prison Fellowship volunteer. “They were rude and very disruptive during the performance.”
Eventually, The Gideon Crew was able to get the crowd to calm down a bit, and then told each man in the room to link arms with somebody and pray.
“The Lord moved on me to go over and link arms with the ‘godfather’ of the group,” Miller says. This man, standing on a chair in front of the bleachers, was clearly the ringleader, and Miller knew that approaching him would be risky.
“But I obeyed the Spirit,” he says.
After the prayer and the concert was over, the man walked over to Miller, thanked him for praying for him, and told him that he had decided to confess his hope in Christ.
“I never saw the atmosphere change so much in one two-hour meeting in my life,” said Mary Johnson, Illinois field director.
Including the gang leader at Galesburg, 400 Illinois prisoners others made first-time decisions for Christ that week.