Taking a break from technology this month to talk about a personal experience I had a few weeks ago while assisting the band Seven. The concert was at the Pendleton Correctional Facility and I must admit that I was a bit worried beforehand. After all, Pendleton is a maximum security facility.
We performed early on a Saturday morning, which required us to depart the host church at 5:30 am. The chaplain wanted us to hear a couple songs performed by the inmates first. Once they were finished, communion would be served and then Seven would handle the remainder of the service.
I was so blessed hearing the songs performed by the inmates. They had their own band which included about 12 singers. They sounded awesome and I kind of wish we would have sent a copy of Seven’s music ahead of time, so that they could have sang with us.
When the communion was served, I really felt the power of God flow into me as I begin to pray. This is not something common for me and I cannot recall a time when I’ve felt God speaking to me to such a degree. As I continued to pray over something that has been heavy on my heart, I felt God speak to me and tell me to “not give up” and keep pushing onward!
When we started performing, I felt so calm and relaxed. When I looked out at across the auditorium, I saw nearly every seat filled with inmates who were enjoying the ministry of Seven. What happened next just blew my mind…
You see, Seven typically performs only original music. After all, they have been a band since 1992 – so they have plenty of original material to fill a set list. At the end of one of the songs, we continued to vamp over a single chord. I saw Jeff leave his drum kit and walk to the front of the stage. He was still singing the chorus over our vamp – which was common.
However, things took a unique turn. Unexpectedly, Jeff started singing the words to the Christian hymn “Nothing but the blood of Jesus.” Just as Jeff finished singing “What can wash away my sin?” the entire room of inmates responded in a vibrant chorus “NOTHING BUT THE BLOOD OF JESUS!”
I have to tell you, hearing that wonderful sound emerge over our instruments was incredible!!! From that point, they continued to sing and I don’t know if I ever heard Jeff’s voice for the rest of the song. Here I was, a visitor at this facility to minister to this group of inmates, and all of sudden they were ministering to me!!!
I recalled back to God speaking to me, telling me to “not give up.” Hearing the entire room sing in unison was certainly an exclamation point to make His point clear to me!
I will always remember that experience and I have continued to press onward with my situation – even when it gets tough. We may not always know why things happen the way that they do, but they are all part of God’s bigger plan – even if it doesn’t seem to make sense to us at the time. The challenge is being ready to take a leap of faith in order to reach the next plateau.