The Grammy-Winning Artist Shares a Message of Restoration with Incarcerated Men
"I wrote my music to express my pain, to express the hurt that I was feeling," shares Grammy-winning, multiplatinum-selling artist Lecrae.
It's a hot September 11 at St. Clair Correctional Center in Alabama. Lecrae is headlining a special Prison Fellowship® Hope Event™.
"I wrote because my daddy wasn't there," the artist continues. "I wrote music because of the trauma that I experienced growing up."
Lecrae speaks frankly to the incarcerated men gathered before him. He may rub shoulders with the rich and famous, but on the outdoor stage, he identifies with the incarcerated men he is serving.
Pain. Loss. Trauma. These are all known to the men of St. Clair.
That's why Lecrae is bringing the often-overlooked men a message of hope and freedom. A message of restoration.
To grow me.
If that's what it takes to know what I'm worth,
– "Restore Me," by Lecrae
'HOLD YOUR HEAD UP HIGH'
At a Hope Event, inspirational speakers and musicians help introduce incarcerated men and women to Christ. These events offer a brief respite from the challenges of prison life. And they give people in prison a chance to respond to Christ and take the next step of joining a faith community behind bars.
Lecrae tells the men at St. Clair,
I don't care if you've been spit on, stepped on, told you wasn't going to be nothing. Your mama wasn't nothing. Your daddy wasn't nothing. You were fearfully and wonderfully made by God Almighty. Your worth does not change. God says that you are His workmanship created for things He preplanned … You [were] made in the image of God. Hold your head up high. … I had to understand that myself. I was trapped in my own mindset. I was trapped into thinking that I had to be something that society said I had to be, instead of being what God said I was. Society don't get to dictate who I am. A number don't get to dictate who you are. You [were] made in the image of God.
In addition to Lecrae, Christian rock band The Birdsongs also performed and ministered to the men at St. Clair. But this event looks a little different than typical a Hope Event due to COVID-19 restrictions.
– Derrick, Incarcerated at St. Clair
HOPE WITHOUT BORDERS
For one, the performers and event volunteers are on the outside of the prison perimeter fence. Yellow tape stretches across the fence, just in case anyone forgets the rules and gets too close to the fence. Hand sanitizer is frequently passed around.
On the yard, correctional officers have marked off a grid for the 250 participants. Each prisoner is meant to stay in their spot on the grid throughout the event. They wear masks that were provided to the prison for the event. The warden and officers are present to maintain social distancing.
And instead of a traditional altar call after the presentation of the Gospel, there is a closing prayer. Although they can't come forward for prayer, 15 prisoners raise their hands to show that yes, they have responded to the Gospel. Those who made decisions for Christ are asked to reach out to their prison chaplain.
COVID-19 is intent on disrupting life, but it can't disrupt the Holy Spirit.
– John, Incarcerated at St. Clair
TAKING PRISON MINISTRY PERSONALLY
This isn’t Lecrae’s first Hope Event. In 2019, he went behind bars with Prison Fellowship to visit the men at the Carol S. Vance Unit in Texas.
"Prison Fellowship is an organization I've admired for years," Lecrae tells a reporter later. "Really a big fan of [Prison Fellowship founder] Chuck Colson—really impacted me in the way I saw the world."
Lecrae's genuine love and care for people in prison comes from a deeply personal place. He's visited loved ones behind bars throughout his life. In fact, the men he counts as father figures and role models have all done time. Even his music was birthed in this community.
"The is personal for me because I first learned about hip hop music inside of a correctional facility as a kid going to visit someone," he shares.
Because of these experiences with the American criminal justice system, Lecrae feels a deep urge to encourage and uplift the incarcerated by reminding them and others that every person deserves to be treated like a person.
"The biggest misconception for men and women serving time is that they are somehow a subclass of human beings," Lecrae says after the event. "The reality is that these are individuals like you and I. … They're mothers, they're fathers, they're sons, they're daughters, and they should be seen like that."
DID YOU ENJOY THIS ARTICLE?
Make sure you don' t miss out on any of our helpful articles and incredible transformation stories! Sign up to receive our weekly newsletter, and you' ll get great content delivered directly to your inbox.
Your privacy is safe with us. We will never sell, trade, or share your personal information.