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Students minister through music at juvenile detention center

The juvenile detention center music team ‘s ministry includes a music class and spiritual challenges. Photo: Tatiana Bento

If you walk through the Fine Arts Building after 5 p.m. on a weekday, your ears will be filled with the sounds of the musical talents of your fellow BJU students. And some of these students are using their musical talents to witness to the lost at the Greenville Juvenile Detention Center.

The detention center ministry was introduced to the student body by Dr. Bruce McAllister, director of ministry relations, during chapel in the 2012-2013 academic year. McAllister said he had a burden for these lost young people and wished for them to see the light of the Gospel. At that time no BJU students were visiting the detention center, and McAllister urged students to consider this ministry opportunity.

A meeting was held in Lecture Room B of the Alumni Building, and many students showed up to hear more about the potential ministry. One of these students was Savanah Maskell, who was a freshman music education major at the time. When the decision of who would be on the team was made, Maskell and several of her friends joined.

After the team’s formation, the group of seven put their heads together to create a unique ministry that gave music lessons and demonstrations to the young people at the detention center.

“Most of [the team members] were music majors,” said Maskell, now a junior. “We thought, ‘Why don’t we do a music class for them and use musical activities and lessons?’”

Now, every Saturday at
3 p.m. during their hour-and-a-half time slot, the group teaches the young people, whose ages range from 12 to 16, about melody, harmony, rhythm and more. The group teaches these lessons through instrument instruction, group participation and brief lectures. Afterward, they play a game, which often relates to the lesson.

Before the team leaves, however, they give a spiritual challenge. “[The challenge] usually focuses on the Gospel because the [young people] are in and out within weeks,” Maskell said. “[The young people] are not there for months, so we want to give the Gospel to them as much as possible.” The last 10 minutes or so are spent fellowshipping with the young people and answering any questions they have.

After two years of music lessons and relationship building, the team has seen several of the young people come to Christ. Last year there were a few whose sentences lasted a few months, and two of them were saved as a result of the music ministry’s influence.

Maskell said one of the greatest impacts the team has on the young people is its consistent presence on Saturdays. “The [young people] see all of our familiar faces and that we love them,” Maskell said. “They know that we’re taking time out of our weekend for some reason, and they’re kind of boggled by that.”

If you are interested in joining this ministry, you can contact Savanah Maskell or Nathan Murphy at [email protected] and [email protected] respectively for more information.

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Students minister through music at juvenile detention center