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Prison Ministry

Our prison ministry all came about when Gene Bartholf, the chaplain at the Hughes Unit of the Texas prison system saw this site and sent email asking if we could provide a concert. How could we refuse such a request? We got musicians from two churches: Church of the Savior in Plano and the Shady Grove Brazilian Church in Grand Prairie and went to the prison on September 28th, 1996. About 60 prisoners came to the concert. Everything went well. We sang 14 of these songs and 3 of our members gave short testimonies and exhortations. We wanted to take a picture in the prison, but cameras are not allowed, so we took the picture below when we got back to Dallas. In the back row are Elton Smith, Antonio Dusi, Anderson Pinto and Julio Pinto. Seated are Sergio Dacosta, Gilberto Barreto and Jim Deyo.



On December 14, 1996 we traveled to the Gurney Transfer Facility in Tennessee Colony Texas. They had us set up in the gymnasium. Bill Brewer is the chaplain there and he had done some heavy advertising. Eventually 350 men sat down and we started our concert. On this trip we took 8 people: Gilberto Barreto, Elton Smith, Antonio Dusi, Anderson Pinto, Julio Pinto, Pam Camille, Joao Silva and Mark Hansford. The concert went reasonably well, but the men were somewhat restless and did a lot gang symbol flashing. Chaplain Brewer indicated that his men wanted more Brazilian culture in the program.

On December 21, 1996 we traveled to the Hilltop Unit in Gatesville. This was very different because it is a women's prison. We gave 2 concerts... first we visited the Trusty Camp where about 60 women attended. They got very involved with the music and program. Dusi and Julio gave excellent exhortations between the songs and everything worked beautifully. The second concert was in the Hilltop chapel. We had a larger audience here, maybe 180 women. They were also enthuastic, but we had to cut the concert a little short because of the 9:00 pm curfew. Our group was composed of Gilberto Barreto, Elton Smith, Antonio Dusi, Anderson Pinto, and Julio Pinto.

On January 20, 1997 we traveled to the Gainsville State School. This was our first concert in a Texas Youth Commission facility. Chaplain John Stutz had warned us that this might be a tough audience. First we ate lunch in the chapel, then we set up our equipment in the gym. We gave the concert to over 200 teenaged boys. We don't know exactly what the boys were thinking because they sat quietly during the songs and showed little emotion. The chaplain indicated that they are under extreme peer pressure to not get involved. Near the end, we had Pat Haynes, of Gainsville, stand up and talk to the boys. Pat described his life with drugs and gangs, and how he had been convicted and slated to go to the penitentiary in the mid 70's when the Lord visited his jail cell. He spent 4 months studying the Bible constantly and was eventually released without serving his sentence. He encouraged the boys to seek Jesus on their own so that their lives could also be transformed. We encourage Christians everywhere to remember prisoners, especially the younger ones, in their prayers each day (See Hebrews 13:3). Our group this time was composed of Gilberto Barreto, Lilia Barreto, Elton Smith, Leslie Smith, Pam Camille, Ellen Pinto, Anderson Pinto, Julio Pinto, and Pat Haynes.

On January 31, 1997 we visited the Cole Unit in Bonham. We had a little trouble getting in, but we kept praying and the Lord opened the doors. Prison red tape can be very time consuming. We gave 2 concerts, both in the evening. The first concert was to prisoners with shorter sentences. About 70 men attended. They got very involved in our music and testimony, but we were forced to cut the program a little short, due to the time we lost getting in. The second concert was to prisoners with longer sentences. For some reason these groups are separated. The room was packed with about 110 men. This was a very exciting group. They have a choir and have been giving concerts to local churches... so we started off the program by having them sing for us. They sang a wonderful song we had never heard called "I'm Going Home". They played our instruments and sang with beautiful harmony. We then played our songs. The men sang with us on almost every song. The room echoed with their praises to God. Our brothers Dusi and Julio gave exhortations on accepting Christ and forgiving each other. It was a wonderful experience for everyone. Our group this time was composed of Gilberto Barreto, Elton Smith, Anderson Pinto, Julio Pinto, David Carson, and Antonio Dusi.

On February 15, 1997 we visited the Powledge Unit in Palestine. Chaplain Mike Fleming met us on our arrival and we set up our equipment in the gymnasium. After we got everything in place we had a hearty dinner in the officer's cafeteria. We held the concert from 6:30 till about 8:30 PM. Some 80 inmates attended and everything went very well. After the concert, Chaplain Fleming had everyone join in a huge circle for a closing prayer. Our group this time was composed of Gilberto Barreto, Elton Smith, Anderson Pinto, Julio Pinto, David Carson, Joao Silva and Mark Hansford.

On March 1, 1997 we visited the Michael Unit in Tennessee Colony. We had some trouble getting there because the recent rains had closed the road from Corsicana to Tennessee Colony and the detour was poorly marked, but we did finally arrive. We walked into the gymnasium and the men were singing and praising God with their own instruments and voices. We set up and played for the crowd of about 170 and everything went very well. Our group this time was composed of Gilberto Barreto, Lilia Barreto, Elton Smith, Antonio Dusi, Anderson Pinto, David Carson, Joanne Carson, Ellen Pinto, and Jim Deyo.

On March 22, 1997 we visited the Johnston Safpf State Jail in Winnsboro. We packed a picnic lunch and ate at a park in Winnsboro before entering the prison. As we drove up to the facility we discovered that Safpf means "substance abuse facility". Chaplain Beach was very helpful in getting us set up (we forgot one of our amplifiers) and about 110 men attended the concert. The men were very responsive to the music and we had plenty of time to play our songs and deliver encouraging messages. Our group this time was composed of Gilberto Barreto, Lilia Barreto, Elton Smith, Antonio Dusi, Anderson Pinto, Julio Pinto, David Carson, Mark Hansford, and Jim Deyo.

On April 19, 1997 we visited the Hodge Unit in Rusk. This unit is special because it contains mainly mentally retarded inmates. Chaplain Carey was our host and about 200 men attended the concert. The men were very responsive to the music and to the encouraging messages delivered by Antonio Dusi. Our group this time was composed of Gilberto Barreto, Lilia Barreto, Elton Smith, Antonio Dusi, Anderson Pinto and Mark Hansford.

On May 3, 1997 we visited the Central Dallas Ministries organization. They work with poor and homeless people in the downtown Dallas area. Just a handful of their people showed up, but we had a good concert anyway. A number of people from our families were able to attend and hear the music live for the first time. This was the last concert for Gilberto before returning to Brazil and we are really going to miss his support.

On August 3, 1997 we visited the Terrell Unit in Livingston. We came by special invitation from volunteer Chaplain Al Gibbons who lives in the Dallas area. About 100 men attended the concert. This was our first concert without drums and it worked very well. The men were very responsive to the music and to the encouraging messages delivered by Antonio Dusi. They were singing along and clapping so loudly on "Magnify the Lord" that we got out of sync. I wonder if the prison guards were getting a little worried by the pandamonium. Near the end we sang "It Is Well With My Soul" accapella at the request of the chaplain. Our group this time was composed of Pat Ehmer, Elton Smith, Antonio Dusi, David Carson and Joanne Carson.

On August 23, 1997 we visited the Hughes Unit in Gatesville. If you look back at the top of this page you will see that we were there 11 months earlier. They are building a new chapel at the Hughes Unit, but it is still under construction, so we played in their small chapel. About 100 men attended the concert. Julio and Anderson were back with us on bass and drums. Antonio Dusi, Julio Pinto and Jim Deyo took opportunity to give encouraging messages between the songs. We sang 12 songs in English and 1 in Portuguese. Our group this time was composed of Pat Ehmer, Elton Smith, Antonio Dusi, Anderson Pinto, Julio Pinto, Jim Deyo, David Carson and Joanne Carson.

On July 9-10, 1999 we gave 3 concerts for women prisoners in Gatesville. This was of course arranged by our friend Gene Bartholf (you'll see his name all over this page). Larry Holder flew in from Tennessee to help out. My mother, Patsy Stevens played the keyboard and my step-father, Murray Stevens helped with the vocals. The concerts went very well and total attendance at the 3 concerts was about 120. Here are 2 pictures we took. The first is a picture of Larry and I practicing. We took the second picture outside one of the the prisons. From left to right are Murray Stevens, Patsy Stevens, Elton Smith, Chaplain Alexander, and Larry Holder.


Who Am I Lord?
A poem by Stephen Behee
Who am I Lord?
Am I not just a man?
Locked up in a prison,
How do I fit your plan?

I'm not a great speaker,
I don't know how to teach;
Everyone knows I'm not perfect,
Who am I to preach?

I am only a sinner,
I'd just embarrass myself;
nobody will listen,
Lord how can I help?

Then my Bible fell open
To Matthew 5:44,
And through tear-filled eyes
I saw God open His door.

He answered all of my questions,
Showed me how to live,
Taught me how to be humble
And how to forgive.

How to give without getting,
How he wants us to pray,
How to smile and rejoice,
How to live for Him each day.

And as His truth unfolded,
It all became crystal clear
It didn't matter where I was
I could serve Him right here!

Yes, it takes constant effort,
He gives us all free choice;
We can choose to follow the world
Or we can listen to his voice!

But the cost of rebellion
Not one of us can afford,
So even here in this prison
I choose to serve the Lord!

Copyright (c) 2000 Stephen Behee, used by permission

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