All of My High School Friends are in Prison …

or have been in prison.”

Those were the first words out of my sweet husband’s mouth as he stood in front of a packed room of about 350 ladies at the women’s prison in Vegas.

One year ago, Christmas Eve to be exact, we launched our first campus inside a prison in partnership with God Behind Bars. Prior to that Christmas Eve, they had only a hand full of people attend a service. Now around 350 women (the most that are allowed to gather at one time) meet each Saturday night for church. That’s over 1/3 of the prison population.

So many of them have come to Christ in the last 12 months and are now actively sharing their faith with the other inmates. Just last week, 34 women graduated from the 8 month Step Study that is part of our Celebrate Recovery ministry. 75 women are now signed up to be part of the next Step Study that is starting. This Sunday, the team will baptize 40 women.

Monday night, Jud & I, a few staff members, and our worship band headed out to the prison for a Christmas service. I can’t even begin to describe it, because words are completely inadequate. But I will say this:

Best. Worship. Service. Ever.

They sang so loudly, and screamed so deafeningly, that my ears were ringing for hours. So many hands up. And their faces … I wish you could have seen their faces while they were praising God. I just sat in my little chair and cried.

Then my husband got up shared his testimony of addiction, recovery and the incredible Grace of God. Oh mercy … by then I was just a heap.

So, now, I want you to check out this video while I throw out a few thank-yous.

Love Your Neighbor Interviews: Jana from Central Films on Vimeo.

To the Chaplain: You are amazing. I’m completely in awe of what you do and how God is using you to reach women and help them grow in their relationship with Him. What in incredible work He’s called you to!

To Jake & God Behind Bars: I’m so incredibly proud of you for following God into this mission. God is using you to impact so many lives. Thrilled that we can partner with you!

To the Drew Bodine Band: You’ve never sounded better! Love your hearts, your willingness to serve, and your giftedness at leading people in worship. You are all amazing!

To my husband: I love you so much! The heart you have for the broken inspires and challenges me. I know the only difference between you and your High School buddies is “two weeks and the Grace of God” and I could not be more grateful to Him. I love you.

On a side note for those who might be interested, $10 sends a Christmas gift to a woman at Florence McClure and includes nice gift bag, a Composition Notebook, a Calendar, Pens, Lotion, Deodorant, Shampoo, Conditioner, and some Candy … all requested by the prisoners. You can go here for more information.

13 thoughts on “All of My High School Friends are in Prison …

  1. Ebony

    Having worked in corrections as a law enforcement officer…hope and love are definitely what they need to know that they aren’t forgotten. Power is in the blood of Jesus! Go God!!

  2. Julianne Brimner

    Wow. The video got me crying and I had already put on my makeup for the day. My heart if full this day because of the ministry you guys are doing.

  3. Lori Wilhite Post author

    That video makes me cry every time too. Sorry I smudged your makeup this morning. 🙂

  4. Heather Moore

    Thank you for ministering to people that most people are all to willing to overlook! My very first intro to ministry was in the 10th grade. I volunteered in my church’s jail ministry. WOW! My eyes were opened big time!

  5. Audra Rael

    Lori, I am one of the lucky ones that gets to go to the prison every week with God Behind Bars to worship and pray with the ladies. I know they were so excited to see all of you and hear the band and Jud live! I can’t wait to hear thier stories on Saturday night as I am sure it is all they will be talking about and will continue to talk about!!! The amazing part of it all is that each week they thank us for coming to share the good news with them and each week I am telling them Thank you for touching my heart and filling my life with joy. God is amazing at how he uses us all right where we are! Merry Christmas!

  6. Lori Wilhite Post author

    They are wonderful ladies. Thanks so much for letting God use you to minister to them! That’s awesome! I know it is a huge blessing for you too! 🙂

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