This past Sunday, the Prison Ministry members, Alicia Wells and Melodie Thompson, arrived at the Women’s Prison with high hopes of making a dramatic shift in the way the ministry of dance is presented during the traditional Sunday evening chapel service.
The evening started with a time of Thanksgiving where individuals shared how grateful they were for their families on the outside taking care of their affairs, their friends on the inside, and most importantly how much they were growing and learning about God. The service then moved to a time of Praise and Worship.
The women traditionally sing 3 songs of worship and praise; 2 at the beginning of the service and 1 closing song. Music, song, and lyrics are place on a DVD and played through a flat screen TV. Knowing this format, we decided to add to their “normal” routine instead of presenting a choreographed dance. This new format was presenting movement through worship and praise that allowed for the women to fully engage themselves in not only hearing the sounds of God through the music or the voice of God through the singers, but also the sights of God through the dance. When all 3 are working together on one accord it creates an encounter with the Father that allows for Him to move in mighty way.
The “plan” was for us to present movement to Donnie McClurkin’s “We Fall Down” after the group sang the opening song, “He wants it all!” Melodie gave a powerful introduction of what it means to continually fall and have the Father help you back up again. After the introduction and review of movements, we were ready to worship. However we were then hindered with technical difficulties with the song. After many attempts it was decided to “move forward” and go over the next song which also contained movement, entitled, “ King of My heart!”
An introduction was given by Alicia expressing how Good the Father is and how He will never let you down. Adding movement to this simple, repetitive song brought the worship experience to another level. Voices of the women lifted higher and higher as the chorus repeated…”Your never gonna let, never gonna let me down!” At some point prior to the singing of “King of My Heart,”Chaplin Joy left the room and upon her return she expressed how she could here the sounds of praise all the way down the hallway!
The service then transitioned to a time of the Word about anxiety and casting our cares unto the Father. During this time of the word, there were many notable distractions taking place; a few of the women became frustrated and shifted their seats because they were very in tuned to the message. Shortly afterwards, “anxiety and the distraction” literally got up and left the room, which gave way to an environment where the presence of Jehovah Shalom could be present.
It was then time to try to see if the original song was working on another DVD. Come to find out, the song wasn't even on the new DVD! Chaplin Joy suggested a new song that, amazingly, both myself and Melodie had danced to on other occasions: “Moving Forward!” by Israel Houghton. Total spontaneously, Melodie began the song with sign language while we both tried to remember choreography from 2008 ! The message, movement, and sounds of Moving Forward prophetically displayed the shift God was making in the lives of many in the room. You could sense a burning desire from the women that their desire to have a deeper relationship with the Lord was more important than dwelling on the mistakes and circumstances in the past. The song also confirmed that ministering at the prison called for a unified approach to worshipping the Father. He truly is Moving Us Forward in this impactful Outreach!