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Mark And Ruth Nissley Sing-Along

Jun, 2023 | Chaplaincy Program, Prison Ministry

We are excited about the part the Prison Music Ministry can play in discipling prisoners. We are thrilled to see how God uses music and singing to encourage, comfort, bring hope, and offer redemption.

When prisoners hear about the sing-along or receive an invitation to it, they often decide to attend due to newfound faith, encouragement from a friend, or out of sheer boredom. When the time comes for the event, they are escorted by prison staff or by a chaplain into a room where we welcome them to our service.

We usually sit in a circle where Mark makes them feel comfortable and invites everyone to join in singing. Mark works to lead each one present into a time of worship, knowing the Holy Spirit will do His work to make anything of real value happen in the lives of the men and women.

We intentionally do not plan out the set of songs we lead, but ask the Holy Spirit to give a thought, a verse, or a topic for each sing-along. Almost every time, a prisoner will say or do something that gives direction to what to sing. We also open it up for prisoners to request songs from the books we pass out. Hearing the songs echo through the room or hall in a prison is incredible!

When we sang at Buena Vista for the first time, some of the songs sparked discussions. A former white supremacist, a former drug lord, and several others were in attendance. They became excited when they realized that each one knew the song, “Our God is an Awesome God.” They joined us in singing “Our God is an awesome God. He reigns from heaven above, with wisdom, power, and love. Our God is an awesome God.”

One time we sang “You are my Sunshine” just for fun and one woman began shedding tears. It brought back a memory of her older sister singing it to her as a child. As often happens when those memories are shared, there are tears, hugs, and words of encouragement.

Sometimes Mark is led to share his struggle with doubt and hopelessness after his father’s suicide. He usually leads the song “He Is with You” after his story. One time a man named Richard asked to meet with Mark in private. He shared with Mark about the suicide of his dad, his mom, his sister, and the drug overdose of another sister. Together they called on God through prayer and anointing to break the curse of death and alcoholism. Richard found freedom in Christ and was baptized several weeks later.

We praise God that the Holy Spirit guided Richard to Jesus and we feel privileged that Mark’s story and the sing-along played a small part in the process.

-Mark and Ruth Nissley

Mark and Ruth can share their love for Jesus with prisoners because of the community of supporters who got involved. Become a supporter of Mark and Ruth at the Chaplain Fundraiser page.