Jimmy Jack Whitaker is a Country Gospel Music Association (CGMA) Hall of Fame, award winning musician, songwriter, and producer.
For more information, visit Jimmy's personal website.
"I was six years old when I watched my father drive out of my life. My mother worked hard as a single parent to keep me, my brother, and my sister together for the next eight years.
When I started the fourth grade, I wanted to learn to play the violin. We didn't have much, but my mother always made sure I had both private lessons and an instrument to play. The sacrifices she made built the musical foundation for the rest of my life.
For many years, I gave my own musical instruments away to children who had no way of purchasing them without help. I didn't understand why then. I do now. I was simply trying to give back to less fortunate children.
I have surrounded myself with like-minded musicians and businessmen, and I am looking for people who want to partner with the Jimmy Jack Foundation in helping children reach their musical dreams."
I am blessed to have been part of several ministries throughout my life. I’ve been involved with a prison ministry for over 30 years. It’s one of the hardest and most rewarding things I have ever done. This ministry is not for everyone, but those ministers who are called to it full time are some of the strongest I’ve ever known.
One of the hardest places I have ever been is juvenile prison. I was invited to a juvenile facility in Texas a few years ago, and I still choke up at the memory. I went in with a young black Christian rapper. I felt out of place. I didn't like rap at all, and didn't even consider it a music form. On top of that, I thought, ''What do I have in common with a 14 year old kid from Chicago in a prison?"
I asked one of the guards about three baby-faced boys sitting at a table by themselves, away from the others. He told me that one was 10 years old, the other two were 11, and they had all been convicted of murder.
I don’t remember the name of the rapper who was with me that day, but he changed my judgmental way of thinking about his music. He opened his Bible, started rapping the words to a music beat, and WOW! It made me realize how the Lord uses His people to reach others.
I stood in front of about 60 to 70 kids from various ethnic backgrounds, wondering how I was going to relate to them. I didn't know what to say, or what songs to play. I must have looked a hundred years old to some of them, and I doubted if they had even heard of Willie Nelson. I was like a fish out of water. I had been praying that the Lord would give me the right thing to say… and then, IT happened.
I opened my mouth! Without thinking about it, I said that I represented those in their families who had broken hearts at home. I said I represented their parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, or just friends who needed them at home. I told the kids that it wasn't too late to make things right, to open up to those who really love them, and to let those who love them know how much they are loved in return. Then, I played a couple of silly songs and taught them how to go “Yeehaw!”
Their hearts were opened, and what happened next still blows me away. Many started crying and just smothered me with pain and tears. One of the guards told me he had never seen that before. I know that some tears were phony, but I’m sure that many were real. What stays with me, and breaks my heart to this day, is that when I looked into the eyes of these children – black, white, Hispanic, Oriental - I didn't see prisoners. I saw kids!
As I left the prison, a guard said statistics show that most kids who reach juvenile lockup are either in and out of prison for the rest of their lives, or don't even make it to adulthood.
Pray for those who are CALLED to minister in prisons. Pray that there will be an outpouring of love and forgiveness, and that many inmates will come to know and trust the Lord.