Pastor Alex Seeley of The Belonging Co extended a bouquet of flowers toward the corrections officer. It was a gesture of thanks for the officer's support. For two days, the band had ministered to prisoners at a Hope Event™ at the Tennessee Prison for Women. Invited by Prison Fellowship®, The Belonging Co band, led by church member Natalie Grant, brought worship behind bars for 322 incarcerated women.
But the Nashville facility residents were not the only ones impacted by the message of hope proclaimed in their midst. Through tears, the corrections officer explained that not once in her 40+ years had she ever received flowers. She accepted the gift and received prayer from the Prison Fellowship team as well.
Two days of worship, 322 women in attendance, and 91 responses to the Gospel—That's the impact of a Hope Event.
TWO DAYS OF HOPE
In prison yards across the country, men and women are being introduced to the hope of Jesus Christ through Prison Fellowship Hope Events. These events feature a variety of inspirational speakers and musicians. They provide a brief respite from the challenges of prison life. And they give prisoners the chance to respond to Christ and take the next step of joining a faith community behind bars.
'I felt wrapped up in Jesus' arms. I felt His love.'
—Shivonn, an incarcerated woman
In addition to a powerful time of worship, the October 2019 Hope Events in Nashville also included a message by Alex Seeley. Volunteers shared their testimonies, and two prisoners performed an interpretive dance.
With invaluable help from the facility's warden, chaplain, and other correctional staff, 100 volunteers, including Belonging Co's Nate Lampa, assisted in making the event possible.
'I now believe that I have not been given up on.'
—Ashley, an incarcerated woman
Most of the volunteers had never been inside a prison before. But one, Rochelle Brock, shared that she was once incarcerated in the same facility. Now she brought that same hope back to share with a new generation of women.
A pregnant prisoner due to deliver during her incarceration allowed volunteers to pray for her. They laid hands on her rounded belly. They prayed a blessing over the young woman and that her unborn son’s life would be marked by freedom and bondage breaking.
'I loved the word that was given today. It opened my eyes and mind to peace in my life in certain areas I thought were not possible. I am opening my [heart] to forgive those I have been holding grudges against. I am accepting my peace in Jesus.'
—Teresa, an incarcerated woman
HOPE IS JUST THE START
When the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, lives are transformed. Even in the darkest of places, Jesus can bring light. And October's Hope Events are just the start. Nineteen new members joined the Tennessee Prison for Women's Bible study. The incarcerated women in Nashville are hungry and eager to learn more about transforming their lives. The facility is also the site of an upcoming Prison Fellowship Academy®.
All thanks to the seeds of hope that Prison Fellowship, The Belonging Co volunteers, and the worship band with Natalie Grant have planted.
'The morale and spirit of the compound has shifted.'
—John Spurgeon, Tennessee Prison Fellowship Field Director
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