YEAR END NEWSLETTER / SMTP

Friends of SMTP,

I pray this letter finds you well.

As 2016 comes to an end, I find a part of myself at a loss for words.

In other ways, I find myself humbled to share of what SMTP has experienced.

I prayerfully considered what this letter should say, and in short, I knew it was better to come from someone else.

You have been a great encouragement and Supporter to us at SMTP.  We could not of walked through 2016 without you.

Amidst the many programs we are a part of, You have helped share the message of unconditional love with nearly 5000 inmates throughout 5 states.

As we walk in to 2017 together, I leave you with this note from Joanna Lampa, our womens director in Nashville TN.

Because of YOU, and Joanna, and all the amazing Wardens and Program Directors and Churches that have stepped in to this Journey, life changing stores like the one below will continue to be written.

We Love You & We Thank You.

May God Bless You & Keep You.

-Nathan Lee


This year we had the chance to begin a weekly bible study in the women’s jail. After a meeting with the sheriff’s office where we sought out opportunities for more women’s events, we found ourselveswith an invitation to start a program that brought music and teaching every week into a women’s pod within the Nashville jail. 

We were, of course, excited, overwhelmed, and ready to take it on. We worked for months on curriculum, teachers, musicians, and a structure to make this program happen. 

Years ago, I had a pivotal conversation with a friend who was working fighting against sex trafficking in Asia. She told me that she saw the pimps and traffickers, the clients, the drug dealers, the women, every person on the margins as wildly loved and necessary to the kingdom of God. She told me she saw them as ‘the wild ones’, as those given specific anointings of shepherding and pastoring and faith that had been twisted to a negative throughout their lifetime. She challenged me that they haven’t always been welcomed into the church, but that though the redemption of the wild ones the church would have so much to learn about who God is, and that now is the season for the wild ones to come to Him. Her perspective and stories of God revealing His love for His wild ones in miraculous ways never left me. 

As I read my bible from that point on, I began to see the chase and His pursuit of all of us-His wild ones- in a new light. From Rahab, to Joseph, to Paul, to Jacob, to the Samaritan woman, God met us in our darkest and gave us new names right then and there. These were the stories that the we, they, the wild ones of our time needed to hear: The Wild Ones of the Bible. 

From this idea came our program in the jail. We have an amazing team of teachers who took the idea of The Wild Ones of the Bible and brought it to life. Every month we do three weeks of teachings and discussions cycling through Rahab, Jacob, and Joseph, and on the fourth week we bring in a musician to have a live concert. 

The response to this class has been absolutely overwhelming. A community has been born in our pod. Both we the class leaders and the women who join us count down the days to Tuesday (our class day) every week. In our discussion time we process through grief, loss, addiction, abuse, fears, answered and unanswered prayers, and how amazing it is that God chooses us while we were yet lost to be His. We have girls come with poems they’ve written to share. We have had a girl come to the class who had no idea who Jesus was. We pray together for addictions to be healed. We pray for court dates to go well. We pray for the gaping holes of death and loss to be healed and mothers to be comforted. We’ve had many of our women teach us greater forgiveness through their life than we’ve ever had to know. There is a hunger in this group for truth and healing that I have never experienced before. At the end of every class time we play music, worship mostly. We can almost tangibly feel the heaviness breaking off at the end of the class and each song.

For the concert this month, December, we had a big Christmas event that was open to all of the women’s pods, not just the one our class is held in. Over 175 women came to the show, Toby Mac performed and one of our key teachers, Amanda, spoke on the story of the gospel. There was dancing and crying and laughing and goody bags for everyone. I have never seen such a joyful response as there was that day.  

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It has felt so far that every class, every event, digs a bit deeper into realness and healing among our group. More than anything else, we feel so deeply how much God loves these women. The Wild Ones are so hungry for the gospel, they are the harvest of this generation, and they have so much wisdom and perspective to give to the church. I am beyond thankful for the opportunity to be a part of this, to be teaching and learning at the same time with such a beautiful group of women. Next year we hope to incorporate more stories of the Wild Ones and bring in many more artists. Thank you for reading, thank you for supporting Send Musicians To Prison and all that accompanies this work. 

-Joanna Lampa

Spring Update

Friends of SMTP
Spring is here, and we hope this letter finds you well. 
We want to share with you what has been happening over the past few months, and how your support is working.
In January, we had a meeting with the Sheriff of Nashville, to discuss a monthly music program for the womens prison in Nashville.
After many meetings, we will be Starting a weekly program in July.
The program will be lead by Joanna Lampa.
We are so grateful for Joanna, the curriculum she has written, her willingness to lead this new program, and the amazing volunteers who have offered their time to train and serve in this new season.
We were schedule to take John Carter Cash to perform in the San Quentin yard in April.
Unfortunately, San Quentin went in to a 6 day lock down the night before we arrived.
We had partnered with an amazing organization in California called Bread & Roses for this event.
They were kind enough to take John and his team for a private walk through of the facility to see where his Father and Mother had once performed.
We're working on rescheduling for this summer. We'll keep ya posted.
Mothers Day was spent in a womens prison in North Carolina.
Brendan & Rachael McCarthy shared such amazing music and stories and encouragement with the women.
More than half of the facility joined the event. To say that it was a healing Mothers day is an understatement.
In the midst of all of this, we've been doing weekly one off events, as well as hosting cookouts at our Nashville office for inmates who have been released.
In short, community is what its all about. And were learning that "one on one" time with inmates is crucial for their re-enrty.
Our model has drastically changed since all of this begun 6 years ago.
Send Musicians To Prison is not a Giant Non Profit. Were more of a Boutique.
We intentionally go to the back of the building in maximum security facilities where no one else will go.
We stay in the shadows, and it takes a strong team to continually love and serve in those shadows.
We have spent the majority of our time over the past 6 years in 3 states, Tennessee, New York, and California.
This coming year, we will finally have to hire a few staff members to keep SMTP not only on its projected path, but to better serve neighboring inmates.
We have been donated a building to use for New York operations beginning in June.
We will need to hire 2 full time directors this year for both Nashville and New York City.
So, between Nashville and New York City, we have a full plate.
How its all going to happen, well......Thats where Prayer and Faith and Hope and Sweat and Smart Decisions and Financial Support come in.
I don't pretend to know which road your called to walk on in this journey with us. I just know you're in it and part of it and we love you so much. We really couldn't do this without you.
Were so grateful for you supporting us as we continue to Send Musicians To Prison and share Hope through Music with those who are hurting.
We appreciate your support and your prayers.
We Love You So Much.
More soon.
 

UPDATE: Wyndell Voorheis - "Full Circle"

45 years ago, Wyndell Voorheis worked in a chili factory in Nashville, Tennessee.

After only a few years, he found himself making more money on the streets as a dealer.

He went on to spend more than half of his life in jail. 

A few years ago, Wyndell became friends with Nathan Lee inside a Nashville jail. 

Wyndell was released on New Years Eve, 2014. 

On New Years Day, at 64 years of age, Wyndell went to visit Nathan Lee at the office for SEND MUSICIANS TO PRISON, only to realize that the office was the old chili factory. 

On Wednesday, on August 26th, Wyndell shared his life story with a group of college seniors from a local Music Conservatory in the office for SMTP. He spoke gently and honestly, in the very room he once worked as a young man. No one could of imagined a day like this 45 years ago. 

Everyone sat around in the warehouse office that normally hosts musicians who rehearse and discuss how to better serve those who are incarcerated, through music. Little was it known when SMTP leased this office space that Wyndell was far ahead of us. He reminded us that the cross is our compass. He reminded us that God is always standing next to us with his hand out, should we so chose to grab it. He reminded us that God sees us, always. It was an afternoon that truly can’t be put in to words. 

Wyndell now spends his days reconnecting with family, and sharing his story of transformation with anyone who will listen. On this particular day, it was with a group of college students. To say that everyone in the room was wide eyed & encouraged is an understatement.

Wyndell is the reason That SEND MUSICIANS TO PRISON continues. 

We love you, Wyndell. Thank you for being a true example of unconditional love, forgiveness, kindness, grace, compassion, and transformation. But most of all, Thank You for reminding us that we too are not forgotten.

As Wyndell would say “ Everything is a God thing, there ain’t no Accidents”.

UPDATE: SPRING 2015

We spent a few days on Rikers Island with Warden Duffy prior to his retirement after 29 years of service.

All the events took place on his block, serving a spiritual growth program he designed with Prison Fellowship over the past 5 years.

He has been a great supporter and encouragement to us since first being introduced.

We will greatly miss his presence, and will continue to serve on Rikers Island.

More on Prison Fellowship @ https://www.prisonfellowship.org

Rikers Island / NYC

Warden Duffy & Nathan Lee

Nathan Lee @ The GMDC Block On Rikers Island

TENNESSEE

We were honored to host a cookout for The Men Of Valor Program in Nashville, Tennessee.

It was a Beautiful evening of re-connecting on the outside, as well as sharing stories of growth and music.

More on Men Of Valor @ http://www.men-of-valor.org

April Cookout w/ Men Of Valor

CALIFORNIA

We were invited to San Quentin for the "Day Of Peace" event.

This event was hosted by an amazing organization called "Bread & Roses".

We were truly taken back by the incredible work they do in San Quentin.

We look forward to serving with them again this summer.

More on Bread & Roses @ http://www.breadandroses.org

San Quentin

San Quentin Yard / Nathan Lee

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San Quentin / Johnathan Davis & Nathan Lee

Bread and Roses Staff & Day Of Peace Musicians

NORTH CAROLINA

We were invited back to Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women in North Carolina for Mothers Day.

We were invited in by St. James Episcopal Church who hosts a monthly healing service.

Often times, this is a very emotional event. This year was a little different.

There was a Beautiful spirit of peace & encouragement this year.

We were honored to spend a day with these Beautiful women as they processed forgiveness as Mothers & Daughters. 

The Chapel @ SCCW where we participated in the Mothers Day Service

We couldn’t do this without you!

Thank You for your continued support of SEND MUSICIANS TO PRISON.

A YEAR AGO THIS WEEK

It was a year ago this week, when we started talking about studying

 

the 8 Beatitudes with 50 inmates, in a Nashville Correctional facility. 

 

Each week, the inmates would journal on one of the Beatitudes.

 

Those journal entries were given to songwriters.

 

A few of those stories & songs can be heard HERE

 

FALL 2014

SEPTEMBER: 

4 Days with Lecrae.

2 Days on Rikers Island in New York City.

2 Days in Los Angeles County, California.

He gave a total of 8 performances.

Lecrae was joined by Andy MineoTedashi, and KB.

While in LA, he met with an anger management class who had recently finished a 3 month class on Fatherhood, using the lyrics from

Lecraes last album. The room sang along to every word. 

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TRUE NORTH COMMUNITY CHURCH in Long Island,

invited Warden Duffy & Nathan Lee to share their hearts

on the importance of giving hope through music on Rikers Island.

The Last 3 Months

The Last 3 months:

-February / March 14'. We asked 50 Inmates in the Nashville Jail to spend 8 weeks studying 1 of the 8 Beatitudes on Friday afternoons.

-We brought in a different pastor / priest / teacher each week to guide the study.

-The Inmates journaled each week on what that particular Beatitude means to them.

-These men wrote profound entries.

 -8 songwriters are writing a song with the journal entries from one of the 8 weeks. 

 -We'll record these songs in the jail this summer.

-Thank you for praying.