Dear Friends of SMTP - 2020
This year has been challenging for everyone, and we pray that you and your families are staying safe and healthy. Because of these challenges, we find it more appropriate to share with you what we’ve done, versus what we're going to do. This heartbeat often makes our social media run at a quieter frequency than most. In addition, it allows for all of us to have time to reflect and respect the anonymity of inmates and not exploit our journey for the sake of followers or likes. In this day and age, this approach is a challenge, but it is appropriate for this organization to stay in good standing when staying in the shadows as servants is part of our mission.
When SMTP began 11 years ago, all we knew was that we were called to go to the back of the buildings where no one was going. In short, that's what we've been doing. Along the way with your support, we have built a school for incarcerated women, retreats for newly released inmates, provided songwriting workshops for thousands of men, and hundreds of live music events in maximum security facilities around the country.
This year was our greatest challenge, just as it has been for many of you, and we are still here because of you and God's provision. We’ve had to surrender to the CDC Covid guidelines, which meant we were unable to go into facilities, however, we have been able to use this time to continue our relationships with inmates and program managers through letters and phone calls. We’ve also used this time to prepare for what is ahead, revisiting our vision, reconfiguring equipment, vehicles, budget, etc.
In the new year, when we are granted access back into facilities, we will be giving our time to Death Row inmates and Hospice inmates. This is a small, select demographic. Currently, there are approximately 2500 Death Row inmates in the U.S. with the hospice numbers radically changing each year. Why Death Row & Hospice? Over the past 11 years, we’ve been invited into various facilities with open arms. Every one of these experiences has been nothing short of an amazing day, full of hope and healing. When it came to Death Row & Hospice, we’ve always felt at home. Our spirits found a focus that allowed us to know this demographic was our family. Some of this came to light 2 years ago when our founder, Nathan Lee, became an assistant chaplain for Hospice inmates at DeBerry Correctional facility in Nashville TN. and realized that “We’ve come to a place in our journey where bringing prayer and song to those in their last days not only encompasses our vision at its core, it's the very essence of grace that we all long for, to be seen and heard and loved, no matter what.“
During this season, SMTP has also worked alongside a select group of musicians that have been going into Death Row facilities for the past two years, called HighSide Music. HSm is a subsidiary of SMTP and their songs were recorded this year during the shutdown, entitled "Ballads For Pain". These songs were recorded for inmates and are being shared with inmates around the country who have access to music. These songs are free to everyone. The link to these songs is provided below as a gift to you from SMTP. Please feel free to share this link with whoever you’d like. May this body of music be of encouragement and healing to you & those you love.
Without your prayers and support, this work would not continue. We will keep you updated as events unfold in the new year. You are a part of every event we do. You are a part of every story that we are part of. We can't thank you enough. This journey is a gift we hold in high regard.
For those of you who would like to continue supporting SMTP, we now have an online merch store for all you Hoodie lovers, Hat Wearers, Mug Lovers, and T Shirt fans.
More to come…
May the cross be our compass.
We Love you, No Matter What!