Matthew Blagg has been to prisons all over the world: Rikers Island, the prison compound in New York City; the Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola; and the San Juan Metroplex Prison in Puerto Rico, to name a few.
The contemporary Christian recording artist said he witnessed the Lord's life-changing power at each correctional facility — no matter its name or reputation.
“I tell people it's a front-row seat watching God at work,” Blagg said.
“It's a reminder that he shows up in unexpected places.”
He said the international evangelistic ministry that led him to different prisons is Bill Glass Champions for Life. These days, Blagg and other members of his church, North Pointe Baptist in northwest Oklahoma County, are preparing for the Oklahoma City Weekend of Champions, a state effort coordinated by the Bill Glass international prison ministry.
As part of the weekend, set for April 4-6, volunteers from churches throughout Oklahoma will visit prisons in the state to share the Gospel with inmates. Many churches such as North Pointe will send teams of volunteers to the targeted sites, while other church volunteers will help in other ways.
Blagg, 45, said he has been part of the Bill Glass ministry effort for 16 years.
He said he was drawn to it because it meets prisoners where they are. He said volunteers extend the Gospel in down-to-earth ways that touch the heart of even the most hardened offenders.
“A lot of times when churches go into prisons they tend to be ultra religious instead of being real about it,” Blagg said.
“When you read the Bible and do what Jesus said, it's not complicated.”
He said volunteers typically meet in the informal setting of the prison yard instead of the prison chapel area to make sure that their message is accessible to inmates who don't frequent the chapel.
Seeing lives changed
The Rev. Mark Sinor, senior pastor of North Pointe, said Blagg introduced him to the prison ministry five years ago.
Sinor said the congregation's involvement with Weekend of Champions events has energized church members and is a reason the church, located in the Deer Creek area, is growing. North Pointe is a Southern Baptist church that is meeting in Rose Union Elementary School while construction of its new building is under way at 5300 NW 220.