“As I began to sing, my voice trembled. ‘Here I am down on my knees again, surrendering all.’ The tears flowed… I raised my hands higher, closed my eyes tighter and let it all go.”
It was the most dynamic prison chapel service I had ever experienced.
There were fifty of us, dressed in our orange uniform, crowded into a small white room with plastic chairs. I was at the front leading worship. As I began to sing, my voice trembled.
“Here I am down on my knees again, surrendering all.”
The tears flowed – a flood of uncontrollable tears. I raised my hands higher, closed my eyes tighter, and let it all go. I surrendered everything: the guilt, the shame, and the pain I had caused those closest to me.
Although I had grown up in a Christian home, experienced the Pensacola revival, and been on mission trips, I’d committed a terrible crime that cost me twelve years of my life. Prison nearly destroyed me.
One time, I was thrown into the hole – which was nothing but a concrete box with a mattress and a metal toilet. Around me, other inmates were kicking the walls, yelling abuse, and tormenting me. I knelt with my face to the ground and wept. “God, please take all this away,” I cried. At that moment, God gave me a picture of Jesus carrying my guilt and shame on the cross.
In that chapel service, I felt no shame, only grace and release. I opened my eyes and looked around. Other men in the room were having their moments with Jesus too. Tough, tattooed men – some hardened criminals whose hearts had been softened, were singing off-key, raising their hands and crying like babies.
Songs like Another In The Fire had brought life into our services. I had discovered songs like it in 2018 after stumbling across the Hillsong Channel. From my bunk bed, I’d watch anything I could that would stop me from slipping back into old patterns: Stephen Furtick, TD Jakes, and Hillsong Worship.
At times, other agitated inmates would say to me, “What is it, man? Why are you so calm?” It was always an opportunity for me to share the gospel.
In October 2020, I was released from prison with a steely resolve. I had served my time and now I plan to use the remainder of my time on this earth to serve Jesus.