January 2015 update
Jan. 8 I departed Minneapolis with my band for 7 performances in 72 hours, with our first stop in Chicago to partner with the Koinonia House in Glen Ellyn. We performed for a large group of 90 ex-cons at a church there that night, with my good friend Manny Mill. The ministry there was so thrilled by the music that they’ve asked me to join them there once or twice a month if possible, on their dime! Should be heading back there soon.
Jan. 9 we were treated to lunch by Manny and his wife before departing for Columbus. We got into town at 9:30pm for a performance at the Alvis House – a rehabilitation center there in town. It was packed with gang members and other guys trying to avoid prison and the response was overwhelming. They were taking video with their phones, dancing and hollering – I was a little worried things were getting out of control! We ended about 45 minutes later and were able to share the Gospel with quite a few guys that night, including many one on one conversations. We were also joined for this event by some wonderful men from the local church there supporting us – New Song Community Church.
Jan. 10 we played at the Marion prison about an hour away and were warmly received by the men there. They were thrilled and seemed very receptive to the Gospel. We were once again joined by a group from New Song Community Church.
Afterwards we headed straight for Rev Cafe – a local music club which was turned into a dry bar for people in recovery. We teamed up with New Song for an outreach concert directed at their youth. It was an amazing night. I was surprised to see 12-17 year olds receive us as warmly and enthusiastically as the inmates and gang members of the previous performances.
Jan. 11 we got up for church and I was honored to lead the New Song folks in worshiop and share about what God is doing with The Salvage Project. We left right from church and headed back to the Marion prison for another performance at their main facility and boy was it a doozy! The inmates there are in a video program and had setup 5 HD cinematic cameras to capture our performance. They even had the audio ready to be mixed and recorded. The video of that performance (one of the best I had ever been apart of) will be available soon. The men were thrilled and many heard the Gospel. We also were able to pray one on one with many of inmates.
After wrapping up we drove back to Rev Cafe for one final performance that evenning with a group of about 100 folks in recovery. It was an emotional night for sure. So many deeply hurting people in one room, many struggling with addiction and declining mental health. It was a tremendous opportunity to encourage them that God saw great potential in each of them and was in the business of doing grea things with people the world deemed “not worth it”. Such a wonderful way to end our weekend in Columbus.
At the end of January I had the privilege of being flown to Phoenix with my family to play a fundraiser for CCTP – a Christian work program giving ex-cons jobs after their release – a critical part of staying out of prison! I was able to visit Extended Outreach Ministries – a group I performed for last November – that reaches out to folks in any stage of recovery. Lots of very troubled people come through their doors and it was such an honor to be back playing for some of the ones I’d met only a few months prior. I was also able to connect with our church in Phoenix – Desert Song – for two outreaches on their campus. This was a tremendous opportunity and the students absolutely loved it. My “band” was 2 students from the church and they nailed each of the 5 songs I’d asked them to learn and play. Closing up the week was the cherry on top. Larry Gatlin (the legendary singer/songwriter and country music start) was main attraction at CCTPs fundraiser and I spent a large portion of the night with him. After the show he told me (in his wonderful souther drawl) “I like your songs. They’re weird.” I just about fell over! He’s a wonderful believer and incredibly caring man. We had similar personalities and I made sure to thank him for making me feel a little more normal and a little less lonely in the world.