by Christy Hoagland

Love….it seems like a common theme in the posts I’ve written but it is anything but common.  God’s love for me, for the men we minister to, and the people we meet continues to overwhelm me.  The Gospel overwhelms me – God’s love shown to me, to us by sending His Son to pay for my sin, your sin.  This is Real Love.

The month of October was intense, we were in 8 different prisons around the state and God poured out His love in the institutions, drew at least 87 men to Himself, and strengthened the faith of countless more.  I could probably write a hundred stories but I will simply tell a few.

At Ozark Correctional Center in mid-October we held a Yard Event with some musicians, James preaching, and Johnny testifying…12 men surrendered their lives to Christ! And, we had pictures taken during the event, unfortunately we were not able to have any with offenders but we are grateful nonetheless.


The following weekend we traveled to St. Joe, MO to do two prison concerts on Saturday.  We brought some special guests and saw several more lives come to the Lord.


On Sunday, James, Johnny and I held a service in Maryville.  Several offenders from other prisons we minister in had been transferred there for treatment.  It was so good to see them still standing strong in their faith and hearing their stories how God is using them.  The service was incredible, it certainly wasn’t about anything we did, God was revealing Himself, His truth to these men and 16 came to faith in Jesus.  The chaplain cried, we cried, the men cried…we were in awe of God’s power and His marvelous grace.  We’ve been invited back to take part in a baptism service for these new lives at the end of this month…wow, God!  Thank You!

A few days later and we were back at Algoa Correctional for a baptism service.  27 men were baptized!  Several different ministries all came together for this baptism, God’s family.  A couple testimonies from the men being baptized really touched me.  A large black man shared how he had been searching for real love; he had encountered carnal love, puppy love, lust, etc, etc but he had finally experienced real love in the person of Jesus Christ, in God sending His Son for him.  Another gentleman had been in the military and had done two tours in Iraq.  When he came home he was having trouble dealing with the things he had done and his life began to spiral out of control and he ended up in prison.  It was through surrendering his life to Christ that set him free from his past and gave him peace.  One man sat in the baptistry and just wept.  So many more miracles and stories, each one precious and full of God’s grace.

On the last Sunday evening in October we drove to MECC in Pacific, MO.  These men were so hungry for the Word, for love, for hope and they were so very sweet, they applauded after every single song, prayer, the reading of scripture, everything!  And at the end of the night 9 men found real love, real hope through Jesus Christ.  The chaplain invited us to have a quarterly spot…how good is God!

Our regular services throughout the month were just as miraculous, 7 salvations at the maximum security prison in Jefferson City and many more at Algoa, KCRC, and Boonville.  God’s LOVE, His GOSPEL is being proclaimed and lives are being changed.

“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

“Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” 1 John 4:7

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1 Peter 4:8

I don’t know why God has called me to prison ministry but He has given me a special love for these offenders.  I want them to experience “real love” through a relationship with Jesus Christ.  I want them to know that I love them and that there are others that do too.  And I want them to love others and share their new found faith, His Love with those around them.

Who are you sharing real love with today?


by Christy Hoagland

Our team had a pretty incredible week, 4 services in 4 different prisons in a span of 7 days; we are scheduled for 18 prison events/services in the month of October…isn’t God amazing?!?  Here’s week one…

On Sunday night as we were getting ready to begin, I was singing a song as offenders were entering the chapel and I looked up to see Johnny talking with a man we knew from another prison.  I finished the song and excused myself to go to him.  He had left and gone home only to return a short time later.  He was crying, ashamed to come to our service but wanted to see us all the same, to which I was glad.  I just held onto his hand and told him I loved him.  He just kept saying he wasn’t strong enough to which I replied ‘Jesus is’.  The power of addiction had overtaken him and he had yielded to it.  He will be out soon and we encouraged him to apply to a men’s christian life program so he can grow in his relationship with Jesus and be surrounded with men who will love him and keep him accountable.  I was heartbroken for him but thankful he came to the chapel.  The Holy Spirit drew 8 men to receive Christ this night…wow!

A revival is breaking out at KCRC, our Tuesday night service has quadrupled (or more) in size and men’s lives are being changed.  There is a boldness there that is amazing to witness, several offenders can be found in the hallways asking men to come to church, one man hand writes scriptures on tiny pieces of paper and hands them out while inviting them to church, some come and some do not but most take the slip of paper containing God’s Word.  God is on the move!

Friday night was remarkable, it began with something simple.  We had noticed that one of our regular guys hadn’t come to service the past few weeks, we asked about him and since there was still a few minutes until the service started one of the offender chapel workers said they would go talk to him, we told him to tell him we missed him.  It turns out he had just gotten lazy…can’t we relate?…he came in with a smile, he just needed a nudge, accountability, and for someone to tell him they cared.  The Holy Spirit was moving throughout the entire evening and during my first session of songs I was overwhelmed and tears fell, even my own… Later as Johnny was speaking he said “I am not ashamed to say I Love Jesus Christ!” and one by one men began loudly exclaiming “I love Jesus Christ!” until they were overlapping.  It was so amazing!  And at the end of the service, 6 men gave their lives to Jesus Christ!

And then there’s Saturday…we were invited to hold a yard event at Potosi Correctional Center, a maximum security prison.  Most of these men (99%) will never leave and some of these men are on death row.  The offenders had to sign up to come to the event and it was open to everyone, even those on death row.  Up until six months before their execution date they are able to be among the general population in the prison.  I was thankful for this news, I was eager to see God work and change lives, to give hope and to give these men something to live for.  Jesus is so worth living for and even dying for.

I shook many hands and looked into the faces of murderers and saw their victims behind their eyes and my heart broke for both.  This encounter affected me in a different way than any had before, but I still loved them and so does Jesus, so much so that He gave His life for them too.  It rained on us and we brought our equipment into the gym, Johnny shared his story and two men responded and surrendered their lives…their life sentences to Jesus.  Then I sang with them, acapella, it was precious.

We all have something to live for when we belong to Jesus, this life of abundance isn’t excluded for those outside the razorwire, it is for the least of these and although they will never be outside the prison walls and fences they have something to live for…eternity with our King, our Savior and peace for the present, freedom from the past, a mission to share His love, His Gospel with those around them and to Glorify Him.

“Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.” Psalm 50:15


by Christy Hoagland

On Friday afternoon I received a phone call asking if we would visit a man’s dying father, his son was worried about his spiritual condition and desperately wanted someone to tell him about Jesus.  He was in a hospital not far from us and it was on our way to our prison service that night so I told the caller that we would be glad to go see him.

We arrived at the hospital and asked the woman at the front desk for (we’ll call him Bob).  The woman told us he wasn’t in their system…we could’ve just walked out, maybe there was a mix up by the caller or maybe he had already passed…but the woman got up and said she would go check and quickly went down the hall.  She returned and told us he was in the ER.  We walked to the ER and asked for Bob and they let the three of us right in (I thought that was odd), we found his room and it was packed with his family.  I walked in and said, “Bob? I know you don’t know me” and he said “No, I don’t”.  I told him we had been sent to see him and by whom and the entire family minus one daughter immediately got up and let us have the room with him.  As they were filing out the doctor came in and told him more about his condition, he would see the radiation oncologist on Monday and that he could go home today but to come back if he got worse.  He left and then each of us began telling him about the Gospel.  Bob said he knew there was a God but that he was not a Christian, he had not given his life to Christ and he didn’t want to. He said he didn’t want to be fake.  As we talked about the hope, forgiveness, and love that Jesus gives I felt like he was shutting down and wanted no part of what was being said.  In my mind I was saying “the Spirit is not drawing him”, we will just have to pray with him and be on our way and hope that a seed was planted and would take root.  The doctor came in again and told Bob that he had a little bit of good news for him, that he needed to stay in the hospital and begin treatment and that things didn’t look quite as dire as before.  The doc then left and James turned to Bob and said “let Christy tell you a quick story”, I was going to tell him about my mom and the miracles God has done through her battle with cancer.  Bob said “I don’t need to hear anymore”…for a split second I thought he had really had enough and was going to kick us out…but instead he said “that’s the first positive news I’ve had in my whole life”.  God became real to him for the first time in his life.  Johnny asked him if he wanted to give his life to Christ and Bob said “Yes, I do”.  He prayed to receive Christ, we were all crying and thanking God for the Spirit’s mighty move upon Bob.  His daughter through tears was looking heavenward and saying thank you, thank you.  We all hugged Bob and Bob even kissed me on the cheek.  In a matter of probably 30 minutes strangers became family, walls were torn down, strongholds were destroyed and the Holy Spirit moved into another heart and life.  Bob’s daughter hugged us tightly and said “that was the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen, I gotta go tell mom!”

Ezekiel 36:26 says “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  And this is exactly what happened before our very eyes, it was one of the most miraculous things I’ve ever witnessed.  What an honor it is to tell about Jesus and watch Him work. Go tell someone about Him today…you might just see a heart of stone turn into a heart of flesh.


by Christy Hoagland

“I’m brand new?!?” was exclaimed over and over by a young man that had just prayed to receive Christ.  Tears were rolling down his cheeks as three other offenders who had just prayed that same prayer embraced him.  Four lives changed forever by the Gospel of Jesus.  Let me give some backstory regarding this “brand new” man… he had been coming to our KCRC service but then missed a week, another gentleman asked for prayer for him, he was worried about him especially since he hadn’t come to service.  Then Tuesday came, with the very first song I noticed God already moving, particularly on this young man.  Later during our Bible study another gentleman talked about how thankful he is for God’s unconditional love and that grasping God’s love has been a process and hard to wrap his mind around.  The entire night was pretty incredible and at the altar call in a tiny concrete block classroom 4 men became brand new!  I’ll never get over it, what a precious gift it is to share the love of Jesus and watch the Spirit draw people to Himself and change them right before our eyes.

The following night a 15 year old girl at Johnny’s church brought him $60, she wanted to sow into our prison ministry, she had wanted it to be more but this is all she could bring. How precious, what a blessing!

Friday…at the start of this week’s service one of our chapel workers, an offender, told us about a young man that had been at ACC for a year now but had never come to a Friday night service yet.  This man had been searching, he had been dabbling in Wicca and other religions and the night before had come to another Christian service at the chapel.  The chapel worker told me that he had talked with him earlier in the day and asked him to come to tonight’s service and he agreed.  He sat rather stoic but still introduced himself when the welcome of newcomers was given, I couldn’t tell if he was singing along with the other men but I just continued to pray for him, that the Spirit would draw him.  When Johnny got up to speak he was giddy, he introduced the man that had come and said that he couldn’t wait until the end of the service to give his life to Jesus, he wanted to do it right then!  God…You are marvelous!  At the end of the night he came to me and I congratulated him on his new relationship with Christ, he said he had been reading Romans today and he knew he needed Jesus.  Just wow…the power of God’s Word, the Spirit’s leading…wow…

I’m so grateful for these opportunities, we all are (the Sing for the King team) and because of Jesus’ calling and people sending, even 15 year old girls, and so many of your prayers we are able to go and give the Gospel and see its power remove strongholds, break down walls, and make men new.  Thank You for praying, for sending, but most of all, thank You Jesus for saving.


by Christy Hoagland

Sweat and goosebumps…how is that even possible? God! That’s how! Last week, the Sing for the King team had the privilege of participating in a baptism service at Algoa Correctional Center along with many other ministries. We have attended before and have always been abundantly blessed but this night was like none other. The chapel was crowded with offenders and volunteers, 27 men were going to be baptized, it was hot and I was sweating along with everyone else I’m sure. As I began leading this body of believers in song I was completely overwhelmed by the presence of God. And as we were singing His praises I felt goosebumps on my sweaty arms, I’ve never seen (or felt) anything like it but what was more amazing? That was just the beginning. God had a big night planned and my heart would continue to be overwhelmed.

The men are given an opportunity to share before they are baptized and we were all overcome by their testimonies of Jesus’ marvelous grace in their lives. Man after man told their redemption stories. Paul spoke of his son committing suicide last year and of Jesus’ work in his life to restore joy and peace. Daniel…he shared that he was the first in his family to be baptized…first! A curse was broken this night! I cried. How awesome is our God!?! Joshua…Joshua was last, he sat and watched as 26 men before him shared their stories and proclaimed their obedience to Jesus and then it was his turn. Joshua entered prison at Fulton Diagnostic and he planned on committing suicide there, he was full of hurt and pain and thought his life was not worth living anymore. God intervened and he wasn’t able to complete his task, he was then transferred to Algoa and thought he would be able to carry out his plan here. But God! God saves! Joshua shared that Jesus saved his life, spiritually and physically. Many men declared that although they had no family on the outside that they had gained a family in the body of Christ. There are so many more and I wish I could adequately express each one. My heart was so full and I felt as if I could just sit for hours quietly before the Lord, treasuring every moment. I never want to take for granted the work of Christ in these men’s lives or my own. He is alive and active and working in and through His people…and yes, even offenders, they are His and He is theirs. Many of them live more sold out lives than you or I and are a lovely reflection of the Savior, of His grace, hope, and love. Look for it, it’s there, share it, someone’s life may depend on it.


by Christy Hoagland

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

A man in our Friday night service has been asking for prayer over the past few months for his daughter.  He desperately wanted to hear from her and know she was doing okay.  His prayer was that she would walk with Jesus and that He would lead her life.  Her silence troubled him so he began to pray and asked us to pray with him.  This past Friday, he showed us a card he had received from his daughter with the very first words written by her…love is patient, love is kind…1 Corinthians 13:4-7 and the words “no record of wrongs” underlined.  He was overjoyed and we rejoiced with him, God answered his plea for this man’s precious daughter, not only that she would walk with Him but to let her dad know she was well and that she loved him and then to encourage him.  How good our God is!!

I’ve thought a lot about this phrase “no record of wrongs” and how this truth about our great and mighty God is so incredible and so important.  An inmate in our service last night, at a maximum security prison gave His life to Jesus.  This man’s sentence is life without parole, a ever-present reminder of his record of wrongs but he has found freedom through Christ Jesus because Jesus gave His life to stamp out that record.  An offender clearly has a record of wrong and they are constantly reminded of that record, with every court appearance, every time they look at the number on their clothes, every time they see a guard, and more.  But God sees the man, the woman…their identity is not defined by their wrongdoings, by their sin, but by Jesus.  This holy God, the creator of all things, loves more than we ever could.  That ultimate love is wrapped up in Jesus’ death on a cross for all mankind.  And when we become His, God remembers our sin no more. Psalm 103:12 says “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”  God can do this, see past our mistakes and remember them no more…but people…for some reason it’s harder for us to grasp, harder for us to love, harder for us to see past the wrongs and even harder to forget them.  I’ve seen this over and over again, people (even Christians) finding it difficult to love some who is incarcerated or has been incarcerated.  How sad…but we all do it, don’t we?  Someone who might have compassion for the homeless or an offender but not the crotchety old lady at church.  Or someone compassionate about missions overseas but not their next door neighbor.  Or perhaps somebody is really good at showing love to most anyone except the homosexual or transgender person they see in the store or on the news or in their own family.  You may want to stand up and say, “Hey! Their sin is an abomination, their sin is against a holy God!”  It is and they need a Savior, just like you do, just like I do.  They need the truth, that Jesus came to die for their sin too…whether their sin took them to prison or anything else we deem as undesirable and how dare we try to belittle Jesus’ sacrifice by acting like it doesn’t cover ALL transgressions.  The forgiveness Jesus offers brings freedom from remembrance, freedom from condemnation.  Us humans want to keep viewing others a certain way, those in Christ and those who haven’t received Him.  We have a hard time seeing people the way God does…as lovely, precious, forgiven or needing forgiveness.  I’m thankful for a God that loves us so much and pray that He will help me to love like He does.


by Christy Hoagland

How are you living for God’s Glory?

At one of our services this week a man asked us to pray for strength.  He has decided to close his case which means he is going to serve out the rest of his term without going before the parole board and trying to get out earlier.  Does that sound crazy?  For most, yes.  But he has Jesus and feels God calling him to stay…to stay and share the Gospel with the men he is incarcerated with.  What a testimony of faith and trust in our mighty God!  He admits there are times he struggles with this decision but knows this is what God has laid on his heart to do.  I am in awe of God’s marvelous work in this man’s life and thankful that I get to witness real change in the lives we are privileged to minister to.  All for His Glory!  That’s why we are here, living and breathing, for God’s Glory!  Deserving or not, I don’t know that I would be able to give up a possibility of an earlier out-date, freedom from incarceration.  Would I even consider it…for His Glory?

How are you living for God’s Glory?

We served in three prisons this past week, we saw 21 lives come to faith in Christ… countless more growing in their faith.  James gave a challenge at Algoa Friday night, to go out two by two and share the Gospel on the yard to which one man shouted “who’ll be my partner?!”  Many men came to the altar that night to start again, surrendering, trying to get it right and live sold out lives for Jesus.  They are praying for boldness and strength to share Jesus with gang bangers, drug dealers, and more… for – His – Glory!

How are you living for God’s Glory?

I want to live a life so saturated by the grace, love, and hope of Jesus that it spills out and over every single person I cross paths with.  I want to give up more and more of this life to live eternally.  And when people hear my name, they will think of Jesus and how I loved Him and served Him.  Although my best attempts are filthy rags and my feeble self struggles to overcome my own selfishness, I so desire to live for His Glory, to make Him known.  Help me, Jesus, to live my life all for Your Glory…

How are you living for God’s Glory?


By Christy Hoagland

We take prayer requests in our prison services and one of the greatest desires of the incarcerated is reconciliation with their families.  They long to be restored to the ones they love, they ones they belong to.   And they need that connection with the outside world, they yearn for their forgiveness, their love, and to be included in the family they left behind.  This isn’t a matter of being worthy, this is a matter of grace.  There’s not much one can do behind the razorwire to earn trust.  They try with words and they pray.

I think when these men come face to face with their sin and repent and turn to Jesus, their eyes are opened and their hearts broken for their people, their precious families that have to struggle and wade through life without them.  They see the grace that Jesus offers to them and it gives them hope.  Because if Jesus can forgive them, maybe, just maybe someone else can too.  And so they pray, they ask for prayer, and they wait… longing for a phone call, a letter, a visit… just a glimpse of mercy from their loved ones.  We’ve seen it happen for some, a picture received of a grandchild, a daughter… a long awaited letter.  And for the rest, they’re still waiting.  And if we are honest, some will wait forever.  Sunday night at JCCC, the maximum security prison, (where men seldom go home and the ones that do have spent most of their lives there), we took prayer requests and a gentleman asked for reconciliation with his family… if he had any family still alive… he didn’t even know… he’s still waiting.

The other side? Families outside the razorwire are still waiting too.  We led a service at a sweet little church recently and a woman asked us to pray for her husband who was incarcerated, she was very broken, weeping over not having him there with her.  Her prayer was for him to be encouraged, for Christians to rise up around him and help him stand strong.  And so we prayed, and she waits.  Prison ministry is not just for the ones on the inside, at practically every service we’ve had the privilege to be a part of we have encountered families that have been affected by a loved one being in prison.  Another prayer request from offenders… pray for our families, our children, who have to carry on without us.

Some might say they don’t deserve to be restored to their families, that their families are better off without them, that they are getting what they deserve.  We understand that there are consequences for our actions and they are indeed paying for them but we are called to love them, to show them grace.  It’s what we are commanded to do, it’s what this ministry is about…love and grace for those inside the prison walls and for those outside waiting.  Pray and wait with them.

“Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” Hebrews 13:3


Last Saturday we had the privilege to provide a Yard Jam at Algoa Correctional Center.  Two bands came to share the love of Jesus and their talents with the inmates, “Sanctified Blues” a christian blues band from the Eldon/Versailles area and the Cornerstone worship band from Sedalia.  The Gospel was proclaimed through song, the Word, and Johnny’s testimony and men came to know Jesus.  We were blessed to have the Algoa chaplain and two volunteers from Woodcrest chapel available to pray with the men, along with James and Johnny.  Some came to pray to receive Christ and others came to pray for their families, the battles they’re facing, and more.  Before we even began we circled up to pray and the chaplain prayed for “one man”, the one man that would be sitting in the back, all alone, perhaps pretending not to listen.  The one man whose heart was being tugged on by the Holy Spirit.  At the end of the day we gathered together again to give thanks for the work that Jesus did and the chaplain told us about “one man”, one man that was sitting in the background, listening, pondering…this one man knelt down and prayed a prayer of repentance and surrender to Jesus.  Praise God!!!

One of my favorite moments of the day was when I looked out across the yard during the invitation, Mark was quietly strumming his guitar, men were praying with the volunteers and the chaplain in various places throughout and two inmates on different parts of the yard were proclaiming Jesus and His Gospel to the men around them.  They were evangelizing in their neighborhood, in their community!  One of these men had already been preparing for this day, he had written scripture passages on slips of paper to pass out during the concerts, he was encouraging the other believers in our Friday night chapel service to come alongside him and he was helping them with what to say and how to go about approaching a fellow offender who was lost, who may be a gang member.  What an example to us all!

There are more stories but I’ll share this last one…a man came to the yard jam that had never been part of any kind of church service, he gave his heart to Jesus and now plans to come to the chapel.  This is what the Gospel does, it changes hearts, it changes lives.  And we are so very blessed to be a part of it.

Sing for the King,



Every life matters.  Whether it’s a prison inmate, starving children in a third world country, a drug addict, someone living an alternative lifestyle, a man holding a cardboard sign at an intersection…every life matters.  I hope I never get so wrapped up in my calling to prison ministry that I miss the people right in front of me, right in my own back yard.  I want to live a life that is different, a life that is not comfortable, not safe, a life sold out to Jesus.  I want to live like Jesus lived, seeing people and their need, giving them hope, love, grace, and mercy.  It doesn’t matter whether I think they deserve it…none of us really do…thank goodness for Jesus, He loves us even in our filth and offers grace.  An offender shared a song at one of our services recently and one line caught my attention, it simply said “Day after day, Jesus won’t throw you away”.  How many people do we walk by and disregard because we think they are unworthy of love? Or not worth our time? Our team may be called to prison ministry but as believers in Jesus Christ we are all called to love people, regardless of their sin or situation.

I would like to think that we would all desire to see everyone we come in contact with to come to saving faith in Christ.  Wouldn’t it make them better citizens, coworkers, friends, acquaintances, family members?  Real change happens through the power of the Gospel.  Some people think we are wasting our time sharing Jesus with inmates, we’ve heard the cliche’ “it’s only jailhouse religion”.  But rest assured, we see what Jesus does inside the razor wire, He wrecks people, He brings them to the end of themselves and they are transformed before our very eyes.  We see them grow from week to week, finally seeing and realizing how much this Great God of the universe loves them, how faithful He is and that He has such a beautiful wonderful plan for their lives.

Just this week an offender, who had been asking us to pray for his father, gave a praise report of the healing God was doing in his father’s life.  They are seeing the power of prayer…God is becoming so real to them.

Will they falter? Will some of them fall? Sure…we do that too, don’t we? But some are going to reach their families for Christ, their communities.  Some will be productive citizens for maybe the first time in their lives.  Some will be able to handle whatever trials come their way because they now have Jesus to walk through it with them.

The Gospel isn’t just for the people we think are deserving, Jesus died for all.  Who are you going to tell about Him today?

Every life matters.

Sing for the King,