Before he started visiting prisons, legendary slide guitarist Bryn Haworth had no idea about the church behind locked doors.
‘It started in 1990 with a “nagging” Bible verse,’ recalls Bryn, guest on Cindy’s Sofa at CRE 2017 (1pm, Thu 19 Oct). ‘Matthew 25:36 says “When I was in prison you visited me.” I discovered brothers and sisters there just like us. They had simply got into trouble and were more in need of help.’
That first exploratory visit developed into the Music in Ministry Trust with Bryn and his wife Sally reaching dozens of prisons across the UK.
‘The big difference is that prisoners are starved of resources – books, song books, music equipment, people to talk to and pray with them,’ says Bryn. ‘It has been shown that prisoners who maintain healthy contact with the outside world are six times less likely to reoffend. And prisoners specially respond to the blues!’
As well as doing concerts, Bryn, a singer-songwriter with a distinguished history as a recording and live artist, takes Sunday services and leads workshops – liaising with prison chaplaincy departments. He and Sally have seen many prisoners ‘saved, healed and released in creative gifts.’ On release from prison, their lives have turned around for good.
‘We know some wonderful prison chaplains, with workloads beyond their capacity, managing to cope only with the help of a few volunteers,’ he says. He has recorded two albums specially for prisoners – Time Out and Inside Out – and has just released a compilation Water from the Rock.
‘Our vision for the future is to let the church “outside” know about the church behind bars and what an extraordinary ministry it is,’ explains Bryn who still does regular concerts and will sing a couple of songs during Cindy’s Sofa (1pm, Thu 19 Oct). ‘If you would love to get stuck in where you’re needed, talk to me at CRE!’
• Music in Ministry Trust is Display Panel (DP) 6 at CRE 2017