Rutherford County Correctional Work Center (RCCWC) recently partnered with New Vision Baptist Church of Murfreesboro to provide inmates with an inspirational event featuring local and national speakers and Christian artists.
Stories of overcoming criminal behaviors, reflections of lengthy prison sentences and tales of redemption were messages expressed through music at the event hosted at RCCWC on Saturday, November 16. The outdoor concert featured motivational speakers, local artists and the lead vocalist from the chart-topping band We Are Messengers.
“This concert provided a unique opportunity for us to show thanks to those inmates who really are trying to change direction through rehabilitative, educational, and faith-based programs while incarcerated,” said RCCWC Director Bill Cope. “These types of events enhance our efforts to both enrich the culture of positive change and provide a sense of hope toward their successful reentry into our community.”
Steve Austin, who spoke at the event and was instrumental in organizing it, is the Prison Ministry Pastor at New Vision, an author, and founder of 180 Degrees Ministries. “I was greatly encouraged through the songs and stories of the artists. Emotionally, I walked away with a sense of excitement knowing that gospel transformation was offered to inmates attending. Spiritually, I walked away with a greater understanding of God’s power to set captives free.” The event ended with an unrehearsed, impromptu performance from Austin’s daughter, Ellie, who felt called to sing to the inmates.
Speakers and performers included Austin, Michael DeLeon, author, educator, motivational speaker and founder of Steered Straight, Inc.; Allen Morrell, musician, singer, and worship/events coordinator for 180 Degrees Ministries; Anthony Leslie “SLIMMM,” local Christian rap artist and business owner who spent most of his youth in the criminal justice system; Antonious Harris, singer/songwriter, Christian blues artist who was recently released after serving 16 years behind bars; AJ and Dionte Chavez “Prafet,” motivational speakers/Christian rap artists from Compton, CA, who left behind a life of gang affiliation, incarceration, and criminal activity to spread the message of Christ through music and motivation; and Darren Mulligan, lead vocalist and guitarist for We Are Messengers.
AJ Chavez commented on his performance, “I wanted these ladies and gentlemen to understand that if bad consequences are a result of bad choices, then productive results come by making productive choices.”
The RCCWC is committed to providing programs for incarcerated inmates to positively impact their lives and the lives of their families to decrease the negative implications of reentry into society and the probability of repeating unfavorable behaviors and actions.