Hillsong United visited Folsom State Prison in Represa, California on July 23. The Australian worship band decided to visit the prison after inmate Lothar Preston wrote them a letter to them. Band leaders Matt Crocker, Jonathon Douglass and Taya Smith performed "How Great Thou Art," "Amazing Grace," and "Oceans" in a packed prison chapel, according to Serving California, an organization that seeks to encourage prisoners in the state.
Last week, Hillsong United took to their YouTube page to share their feelings about the experience. It was there that Douglass explained why the worship band wanted to visit the prison.
"Today is really special because we also want to go to places and to people who don't have social media. We received this letter a little while ago from an inmate," he explained. "This guy has been behind bars for a very long time but through the music that we've been able to create, it's basically led him to Jesus. So we are going to Folson prison to surprise this inmate and get the opportunity to lead worship."
Inmate Preston reveals why he wrote to the band and requested their visit: "The reason that I wrote you guys was this. That one day in my cell I heard the Miami concert," Preston revealed. "The music in that concert touched me in such a way that I will never be the same. It's taught me three things ... the Holy Spirit, grace, and how much God loves me."
He added, "I will sing like a man with no sickness in my body and like no prison wall can hold me."
"The only word that I can really come up with, it's all about love. Certain concepts, certain words it's all about total surrender and abandonment to the belief that God has a plan for you," he said. "And he says a verse I love in the Bible, 'For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you."
The experience was life changing for the band who got a chance to see the world from a wholly different perspective.
"Even though they've got prisoner written on all of their clothes they're like, 'We are not our crime.' I'm so grateful for the grace that we've got from Jesus to be able to give that grace," Douglass said. "It's for you, it's for everyone. And they're everyone, so it's pretty cool."