Words cannot even begin to describe the last 10 days of my life. I’ve been in Shining Light for 11 years, and have been on 9 tours and each year I have the same struggle. How do I describe to those who weren’t there what it is like to be on tour? I wish I could just bring them all along with us, because honestly, there is no way. It simply cannot be completely understood unless you lived it.
Living with 60 people for 10 days, traveling in a coach bus, sleeping on air mattresses and spending a large percentage of your time in prison may not seem like an appealing way to spend your vacation time, but it is definitely the most fulfilling way. Out of those nine tours that I’ve done in the past 11 years I truly believe this one was the best, for such a variety of reasons. The group was amazing, I am so proud of those kids – not just the way they stand up in front of some of the toughest audiences and share their faith, but also for the way they support each other and lift each other up. Some of them I’ve watched for years and am so impressed with the way they’ve grown and matured since they originally joined the group. Some of them I haven’t known as long, but they’ve still grown in the amount of time I’ve known them. I feel honored that I got to work with this group and spend so much time with them on tour. They are an amazing group of kids and their dedication to this ministry is amazing.
If I had to describe tour, words like “awesome” and “amazing” and “inspiring” are the first that come to mind. I felt God’s presence on this tour more than any other, with the possible exception of Father’s Day in San Quentin two years ago. But as a whole, God’s presence was truly everywhere on this tour. In the big things and the little things. He was there when one boy had the courage to stand in front of his fellow residents and play guitar (which he did amazingly well). He was there when the inmates of Maine State Prison gave us a standing ovation on Father’s Day. Each time the residents of one of the detention centers stood and held hands in prayer or took hold of a microphone and told us how much our program meant to them, God was there. He kept our truck driver and co-pilot safe yesterday when two tires went on the truck, severing all the air and electrical lines between the cab and trailer. We could feel His presence as we stood and admired the beauty of His creation at Acadia National Park and from the top of Cadillac Mountain.
I don’t think a single one of us walked away from that bus yesterday unchanged. I, for one, have committed myself to being more courageous in my faith; to be more open about what I believe in, to be more willing to sharing that faith as well as be more willing to accept that I cannot do things alone and accept His help and guidance when needed. Tour was an amazing experience and I want to make sure that this year I bring that experience back with me and use it to be a better person. To be a stronger person. I want to be courageous.
“And I’ll be strong and courageous
I’ll live my life for You my only King
‘Cause You’re my God through all the ages
Here am I, I am Yours