Hillsong NYC teamed up with Prison Fellowship® to play live worship music for prisoners inside Rikers Island Detention Center in New York City.
The day before America celebrated its independence, Hillsong NYC and Prison Fellowship gathered with incarcerated men to celebrate freedom in Christ.
The gathering took place the evening of July 3 inside New York's infamous Rikers Island Detention Center. Some 35 volunteers from Hillsong NYC and Prison Fellowship joined 43 incarcerated men from the facility for an event in the Rikers Island gymnasium.
There they experienced live music from Hillsong NYC's worship band and led by Chris Davenport, a frequent collaborator with Hillsong United. The night also featured testimony given by a member of the Hillsong NYC band, which is part of the Australian-based Hillsong Church, and a message of hope from Prison Fellowship Academy Program Manager Jose Negron.
INTRODUCING PRISONERS TO JESUS
The Rikers Island event was one of hundreds of Hope Events held each year in correctional facilities around the country. Men and women who attend these events are introduced to the hope of Jesus Christ through yard events featuring inspirational speakers, musicians, and other attractions.
The Hope Event™ at Rikers was the first time that Hillsong NYC and Prison Fellowship have partnered together for an event.
"[Hillsong NYC] has been just super excited about finding ways to serve," says Jennifer Lowrey, Prison Fellowship's senior director of programs and special events. "They now have volunteers that are coming in, working as volunteers in our [Prison Fellowship Academy®] at Rikers. They're there helping with the Angel Tree Sports Clinic™ that's upcoming."
AN EMOTIONAL RESPONSE
At Rikers that night, it was obvious that the men were responding to the program, especially when the band played Hillsong United's "Another in the Fire." Chris Davenport wrote the song and was on stage as the band played.
"[The song] has an amazing lyric about not being alone and about how Jesus is our other person in the fire with us," says Jennifer
"I was standing back next to the men ... I just couldn't stop crying," she says. But Jennifer wasn't the only one tearing up. "The guy right next to me couldn't stop crying. It was amazing to see," she says.
After worshiping with the Hillsong NYC band and being invited by Jose to come forward and respond to Jesus' offer of salvation, 21 men—nearly half of the incarcerated men in attendance—flooded forward to respond to the Gospel.
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