Behind bars but free to worship

amychris1

Chris and Amy Compston outside the FCI prison in Summit where they have participated in 5Ks with the inmates the past two years.

By MARK MAYNARD / Amy For Africa

SUMMIT, Ky. — Amy For Africa has taken us to many places in the last 3 1/2 years and certainly one of the most humbling and startling is the Third World country of Uganda, where clean drinking water and a dab of electricity put you in elite status.

But of all the other places we’ve been one of the most moving and remarkable has been the Federal Correction Institute at Summit.

The prison for male inmates is most welcoming and respectful to the AFA team. We have twice participated in 5K with inmates in “The Yard” and they have fundraised for the organization the past two years, bringing in nearly $1,000 recently. We’ve also spoken at three or four chapel services, including one on Monday.

In May of 2014, when AFA took 26,000 pairs of shoes to the Moyo district of Uganda, we also took bags of stuffed animals toys that were made by the inmates with their own hands.

It’s also not unusual for us to receive checks for donations to AFA from inmates who make about $15 a month. They seem to truly believe in what God is doing.

Amy Compston has personally spoken to the inmates about her salvation story about five times but Monday afternoon was a first. She spoke to the inmates in the Spanish-speaking population, with an interpreter. It was interesting and beautiful to hear her story in another language. God’s love is universal and it shows in her speaking. As usual, when she gives her God-kissed testimony, hearts are stirred. They were again on Monday in a sterile looking room that is the FCI chapel.

The men in the room were worshiping before we even arrived, praising Jesus with hands raised as they sang Spanish praise songs. One inmate played a keyboard, another tapped on a makeshift percussion (a cymbal and tambourine). Never mind that it wasn’t always with the beat, it was praise and worship at its finest.

One inmate in front of us stood the entire time during the worship part of the service with hands raised to the ceiling. He’s not a free man but it was some free worship going on and he took advantage.

Amy made mention of how his standing up for the songs convicted her to get on her feet and praise too.

We showed our latest six-minute video of the medical mission to Moyo and you’d have thought we were showing an Academy Award film. All eyes watched with intensity and reverence. They studied every bit of it and listed to the song “How Great is Our God” that played throughout. Some of the lyrics were even sung in Spanish, which was fitting. They applauded loudly when it was over.

It was about three weeks ago that we shared with another group of inmates and even had some group time with about a dozen of them. They are men who made mistakes and are remorseful. Their stories are heartbreaking with separation from family being the toughest part. They are clinging to whatever good they can find.

Say hello to Jesus Christ.

Some of these men may know Him (it sure seems so) and some may be pretending or have some “jailhouse religion” experience. I don’t pretend to know the hearts of anybody. But I’m sure being a “Jesus lover” isn’t the most popular stance in any prison.

But there is a sense of God’s movement there. The experiences we’ve seen in the prison for the past couple of years point as much toward revival as some churches do these days. There was a true spirit of worship in that place on Monday.

There was even a response from one inmate after Amy gave her heartfelt testimony of recovering from 14 years of drug and alcohol abuse. She prayed with him as he asked Jesus to come back into his heart.

These inmates have become supporters and fans of Amy and the AFA organization and we pray for them daily. One inmate told us after the 5K earlier this month: “Thank you for letting us be part of something that our families can be proud of.”

Is your heart melted yet?

We are simply blessed to follow “wherever He leads” because it’s always something special waiting for us.

Even in a federal prison.

 

By | 2016-10-31T18:35:57+00:00 October 31st, 2016|

About the Author:

Mark Maynard is co-founder of the Amy For Africa mission, and also serves as its president. Reach him at (606) 571-1031 or mark@amyforafrica.

Leave A Comment