Lloyd has been visiting the same prison for near 40 years. He and his wife, Nita, have ministered to 100’s of men over the years of the saving grace of Jesus. Mom Carter, Nita’s mother also visited the prison and led a bible study and participated in an outside prayer group for the men inside. Sara Groves, Lloyd and Nita’s grand-daughter also have ministered to the men over the years first having attended a Christmas Service when she was 3 months old. No, that is not a misprint. Below is one of many musings Lloyd has written of his encounters with the men over the years. The names have been changed to protect the men’s privacys.
Sunday morning the Men of Faith inmate choir sang a praise song that moved me to tears. We’ve heard it many times through the years, sung by various versions of the choir. It was not the song that brought the tears—although it was stirring. It was the chapel clerk, sitting on the electric piano bench.
He often sits at the piano while the choir sings so he can control the mikes. Just before the song he had started a pre-recorded piano accompaniment. He often sings along, sometimes quite expressively, waving his arms and keeping time with his head. Now, at the end of “I Sing Glory…” he spoke. “The piano was played by Bruce. When he recorded it for us, he only asked one thing. That each time we play it, we pray for him.” He bowed his head and prayed for Bruce, wherever he is.
Bruce was an inmate several years ago, when we had a different choir and a different chapel clerk. He was young, sort of bumbling in his manner, hair never quite in place, glasses giving him a geekish look. He loved the piano. He and the chapel clerk talked of getting together when they got out and ‘making it’ in the gospel music world.
That recording on the piano is our memorial to Bruce. I have no idea where he is or what happened to his music ambitions. I can’t help wondering. We said ‘Amen’ to that prayer with all our hearts.
Sometimes it seems we stand there in the chapel watching a never-ending torrent of the self-wounded flow by, year after year after year. All we can do is speak a word, grasp a hand, and then they are gone.
A long time ago we mounted an effort to help ex-inmates get established in churches. We made wide appeals to churches to join us. Perhaps we didn’t do it right, for there was little response. Now a carefully organized effort is being made again through a program called the Jericho Commission. Please read about it on the website: http://jerichocommission.org/
We want the Bruces out there to keep “singing Glory!”