It is rare that, when booking a show in a jail or prison, the facility contacts me. Usually (although not every time) I am the one who has to call of e-mail them. Apparently, a guest Gospel juggler is not the highest priority in our correctional faciities. Who knew. But it was the Somerset County Jail's new program director who called me to come up to Madison, Maine last week. I'm so glad he did.
As usual, I went up to Madison expecting to do two or three shows, and this time it was two. First was a group of men, the second show was for the women. The first gig was so early, the inmates hadn't even had their morning coffee yet. They were a great audience in spite of this; I joked that I don't even like looking at myself before I have my coffee, so I appreiated how well they attended to my show that morning. I closed the show with "the Thief on the Cross" story/illusion. This was a very powerful message of grace and forgiveness, and the men listened and were clearly moved.
I always especially love performing for the women in prison. So many of them are there because of deep hurts from men in their lives. I closed this show with another story/iluusion about the woman who crashed a Pharisee's dinner party and washed Jesus' feet with her tears. Again, a very appropriate message of grace, and the women clung to every word.
The rest of my routines were what I normally perform. Being in November, I made sure to include "O Come All Ye Faithul" in both. Dove and rabbit productions are a give, and of course there were the obligatory jokes from the guys that the rabbit's name should be "Stew".
It was what happened between show, though, that made this outing memorable. I spoke privately with a male inmate in the jail's beautiful chapel. This is the only county jail I can remember that has a room just fo chapel services. Although a cement block room, the walls are painted to look like there are stained glass windows. The art work was done, I'm told, by inmates. It was in this sacred space that the gentleman told me how, a couple years back, he contracted covid-19. To protect the rest of the population, he was put in isolation in the chapel for a week or more. It was during this time of isolation that he encountered Jesus in a life changing way. We discussed Scripture as well as talked about family; He is clearly born again by the Spirit of God. He told me that his "old lady" was now clean and sober, having overdosed on meth a year or so back. He is waiting hopefully for her, too, to meet and surrender to Jesus. Please pray for this couple. Thank you.