During Holy Week 2021, men and women in prison were introduced to the hope of Jesus Christ through Prison Fellowship® Hope Events. Featuring a variety of inspirational speakers and musicians, each Hope Event™ provided a brief respite from the challenges of prison life and gave prisoners the chance to respond to Christ and take the next step of joining a faith community behind bars.
Thank you to everyone who pitched in and was involved in bringing the hope of the Good News to the incarcerated this Easter. We would especially like to thank each state’s department of corrections for working with us.
'It's Easter, and we're able to go inside prison for [these events]. How exciting is that? Only God can do this, and He is moving mountains right now.'
Prison Fellowship Field Director, California
Prison Fellowship was able to celebrate Holy Week and Resurrection Sunday in person at three prisons. Easter Hope Events on the yard are an annual tradition for Prison Fellowship. Chuck and Patty Colson regularly celebrated our Lord's resurrection with incarcerated men and women. As the current public health situation continues to evolve, Prison Fellowship events are being handled on a case-by-case basis.
DEBRA K. JOHNSON REHABILITATION CENTER, TENNESSEE
On Thursday, prisoners at Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center in Tennessee worshiped at two Hope Events facilitated by Prison Fellowship. The Debra K. Johnson Rehabilitation Center is the one of the largest women's facilities in the state of Tennessee.
"Pastor Alex from The Belonging Co has prepared a Spirit-filled message. We have an awesome worship band from The Belonging Co church. Kari Jobe and Cody [Carnes] are joining the worship band to glorify, to praise the resurrected Savior," shared John Spurgeon, Prison Fellowship Field Director for Tennessee, in an Instagram video the day before.
Thank you so much to our special guests, to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, and to all who helped make this event possible!
'We've experienced losses in our lives, we've lost loved ones—we've walked through moments of intense grief. I'm just so thankful that Jesus took grief to the cross … We need to be reminded that He took grief and disappointment and sorrow.'
COLUMBIA, SOUTH CAROLINA
In Columbia, S.C., James J. Ackerman, president and CEO of Prison Fellowship, joined Christian Colson, member of the Prison Fellowship Board of Directors and son of the late Prison Fellowship founder Charles Colson, and musical artist Lecrae to share the Gospel in Columbia.
Opening for Lecrae was hip-hop artist Jeff Walker.
"Jeff was actually formerly incarcerated at this institution, so he got to come back and tell people that he knew the hope that he now has in Christ and … celebrate Easter together," shared Naomi Faltin, Prison Fellowship Hope Events Specialist, who helped coordinate the event.
"[We] had a great day today," said Michael Madsen, Prison Fellowship Regional Director. "Thank you so much for joining us, those that were here, and the men at [this facility]. We celebrated the Lord, and the Lord's presence was felt by all of us. We especially want to thank Jeff and Lecrae for their performances today and for the messages that were delivered."
'Forty-five years ago, my dad was in prison, and he vowed to take care of the people after he left. I went to many prisons with him, and I'm looking forward to this day.'
EASTER WATCH PARTIES
Prison Fellowship was also able to host 100 virtual watch parties around the country in both men's and women's facilities from Wednesday, March 31 to Sunday, April 4. Of those 100 parties, 29 were available in Spanish.
Approximately 11,000 incarcerated individuals attended in 18 states:
Each incarcerated person who attended was given a copy of Inside Journal®, a newspaper published by Prison Fellowship offering Gospel-centered encouragement and motivation, and a bookmark.
We are so thankful for all our staff, volunteers, and the departments of corrections who allowed us to virtually minister and encourage our brothers and sisters behind bars.
'We are blessed to be here today on Good Friday talking about the Good News of Jesus, alive from the dead and giving hope to the prisoner.'
pastor at Saddleback Church and National Director of Celebrate Recovery Inside
CENTRAL CALIFORNIA WOMEN'S FACILITY, CALIFORNIA
In addition to Tennessee, South Carolina, Alabama, and Florida, Hope Events were also held in California. Two livestreamed Hope Events, one from Chapel of Change and another from Hillsong, brought worship to the women of Central California Women's Facility (CCWF).
This was the first Hope Event Prison Fellowship was able to hold for CCWF since the COVID-19 pandemic began a year ago in March 2020.
'I was inspired by Pastor Danny's testimony. As an LWOP [life without parole prisoner], it is important to have hope, and his testimony highlighted that for me.'
'In several ways you set me free on my birthday to celebrate Jesus with you instead of being locked in. Thank you so much.'
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