The following article was written by Mike Lewis, Adjunct Instructor of Music at Randall University
In 2011, a good friend and worship team member was sentenced to seven years in John Lilley Correctional Center. God helped him find purpose in prison through worship band ministry. I was able to help him by devising a plan to provide ongoing training, music, gear, leadership, and teaching for the band. This plan included involving the Worship and Music Studies students at Randall.
In the Spring of 2016, students in the Planning & Conducting Public Worship class were the first class to go to John Lilley to teach and train three worship teams. This not only allowed students to help the inmates, but it was also good practical experience for each of them as they prepared for Sunday services and special events with their own church bands. We saw opportunities to empower Christian band leaders at John Lilley to lead for their own services, while giving Randall students opportunities to disciple band members.
In the Spring of 2017, our classes had grown from three to seven bands, with as many as 35–40 members, and the John Lilley chapel service attendance had out grown the existing chapel! God has used the growth of the worship team leaders to encourage others to follow Christ. Many of our special event services, such as Good Friday and Christmas, have resulted in many people giving their lives to Christ.
Today, construction is nearing completion on a new chapel that will house the many people who are part of the faith community at John Lilley prison. The new facility has given us even more opportunity to teach and train on new technical equipment such as sound equipment, lighting, and presentation media. Most recently, we were able to bring in special guest, Brian Hunt, a sound engineer for Joyce Meyer Ministries. Brian and his son Josh were able to work with us to give leaders at John Lilley extensive training on their new sound board. We look forward to our first service in the new facility in April.
"Prison ministry holds such a special place in my heart. As a Christ follower, it was always something I was interested in, but had never had the opportunity to participate in until I came to Randall. My very first semester I had the privilege of attending the closing worship night and to say it was incredible would be an understatement! We saw prisoners sing about our God being a chain-breaker. While these men may physically still be in chains for crimes committed, the chains of sin and bondage no longer hold them. It was an experience I hope to never forget!"
—Jordan McEntire, Student