Photo courtesy of Gospel Music Base.

Popular Christian worship music group Maverick City Music visited Everglades Correctional Institution (ECI) in Florida in early December 2021, igniting the passion of everyone in attendance. 

The event was organized by PandoApp, the first Christian app on prison tablets that provides access to sermons, worship and a digital Bible. This was the first prison visit to Florida for Maverick City, which is known for its top 10 hit song in contemporary Christian music, “Promises.”

“I wanted to bless the men here and honor the ministry happening here,” said Jake Bodine, the chief executive of Pando. “We think you guys are special, and we think revival is coming here.”

Pastor Scott Free of the City Takers ministry in Atlanta, who accompanied the musicians, told the audience that “every single person in this room is a minister of the Gospel.”

Sparking fire in the room before the worship began was Atlanta rapper 1kpson, who recently partnered with Maverick City. He said he had family in prison and was happy to come to Everglades to give back and connect with the men here.

lkson took to the stage in a red hoodie with braids hanging down to his shoulders. With his hand raised in the air, the Atlanta rapper delivered, “I Know the Plug,” which lit a fuse and quickly had the whole room chanting along with him. The chapel’s sound system delivered heart-thumping bass. 

Before Maverick City took the reins, Carl Jamal Rumsey, the founder and executive director of the Maverick City Music Initiative, spoke. 

“We could’ve been in any prison today,“ Jamal said. “But God chose for us to be here. He chose you.”

Jamal shared that he doesn’t know where he would be today without praise and worship music after growing up with his mother in prison most of the time.

Songwriter and vocalist Tiana, along with Nate Diaz on the keyboard, fanned the flames of the men with songs that included Mack Brock’s “Fresh Wind Fresh Fire” and Sandals Church Worship’s “Death Could Not Hold You.”

The powerful atmosphere of worship was evident in the reactions of attendees. At times, men swayed with hands held high in the air; at others, there was cheering and celebration, while nearly everybody sang the words to most songs.

With the room smoldering in embers, pastor Scott Free took to the stage. 

“There are brothers that fear the mountains they face,” Free said. “We‘re going to pray and move some mountains today.” He asked men who have struggled with suicidal ideation to raise their hands. 

Free had men pray in groups for those who had raised their hands.

Bodine delivered the closing remarks before an encore presentation of “I Know the Plug.”

“I tell everyone everywhere I go about Everglades,” said Bodine.“Nothing can compare to what just happened in this room today.”

Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.

Republish our articles for free, online or in print, under a Creative Commons license.

Frank Morse

Frank Morse is a self-taught portraitist, writer and public speaker who has been incarcerated since he was 23 years old. He is the president of the Draft Pick’s Gavel Club, an affiliate of Toastmasters International, staff writer for the Endeavor Newsletter, a prison publication at Everglades Correctional Institution, a peer facilitator in the Horizon Faith and Character Program dorm, and facilitator of the Art Expressions Program. He is incarcerated in Florida.