“God sent you here to minister to me,” said a prisoner in maximum security.
During our spring break tour in Michigan this year, Hartland’s Three Angels’ Chorale (TAC) volunteered at Indiana State Prison, a maximum-security prison for adult males in Michigan City. We cooperated with Christmas Behind Bars to give out parcels to the prisoners.
“Many of these prisoners have at least 20 years of imprisonment—some even a lifetime sentence—and this might be the only visit they receive in years,” says Lemuel Vega, founder of Christmas Behind Bars. Each parcel includes not just food, but also books such as The Great Controversy, Bible Answers to Your Questions, and more.
“I thought that I needed to know everything before I went out to minister to people, but I realized that just praying and giving Bible promises can change people’s lives,” shares Michelle, one of the TAC members. Besides handing out parcels, TAC members also prayed with the inmates, gave them Bible promises, and even shared their testimonies. At the end of the visit, we sang an acapella piece about the peace the Lord wants to give every one of them.
“When God closes one door, He opens another,” says TAC director Betsy Mayer. “I just go to the open door.” We were supposed to have a concert in the prison that afternoon, but because of a power outage, the concert was canceled. However, our God is a mighty God! Through this cancellation, God opened the way for us to minister in the minimum-security prison. We sang in three dormitories, to at least 300 people. In the blocks, we again distributed parcels and prayed with the inmates. “We’ve never had this opportunity to minister to the inmates directly inside their blocks,” marveled Donna Vega, cofounder of Christmas Behind Bars. “God knows the best place for us to go!”
During our trip, we had the opportunity to sing and share the gospel not just with prisoners, but also with homeless people, children, teenagers, Christians from different denominations, and Adventist church members through our music and testimonies. Many people shared how the Lord touched their hearts, and how their faith in the Lord was strengthened as a result.
“We are grateful that you came to our church, and it is an encouragement for us to see young people devoting their time for the Lord,” said a Baptist pastor.
One concert was added providentially when the pastor of the Cadillac SDA Church received an email with our itinerary. “Do you have room to put Cadillac in your schedule?” he responded. “Pastor Wing is a personal friend of mine who has come to all but two nights of our crusade. He is reading The Great Controversy right now and has read some of our other books. He would be thrilled to host your group and invite the community.” And so it was that we found ourselves singing at the Grace Community Bible Church for their Sunday service.
“The Bible has answers to all the questions that puzzle humans the most,” said one of the Baptist church members after our concert. They were impressed by the truth presented in our songs, especially “The Blessed Hope.” This piece is taken directly from 1 Thessalonians 4:13–17, where the Bible explains that the dead in Christ shall rise first, and the living will be caught up together to meet the Lord and forever dwell with Him.
“Now I know why God told me to stay in TAC,” remarks Asahel, one of the choir members. At first, he had been planning to drop out of TAC; however, he felt God telling him to stay and join the spring break trip, and he didn’t know why. The testimonies from the prisoners, the homeless people, the new converts, and countless others showed him—and the rest of us—how God has been working in their hearts, and why He has called us to this outreach. “God wants me to minister to His children,” Asahel concludes.
The spring break trip not only changed other people’s lives for the better, but it also helped us chorale members to grow spiritually. This trip taught us that music can touch people’s hearts, and despite our imperfection, God uses us as His instruments as long as we are willing.