Hamilton gospel musician Nicky Moran has reached the finals of the 40th MLT Song Writing Award to be held in Gore in June. Moran is among 10 songwriters short-listed for the finals of the award, which forms part of next month’s MLT NZ Gold Guitar Awards. She describes her song Gonna Turn as “helping us to change from the old to the new life we are destined for. A life which is full of hope, kindness and forgiveness.” She will travel to Gore to perform her song in the final on June 3. Her performance will come straight off the back off her annual prison tour, where she performs in all New Zealand prisons for free – something she has done each year since 2014. “I feel very humbled to have been shortlisted for the final and am excited to perform on the night in the company of other such talented songwriters.” Gonna Turn will be released as a single on June 4. It will also appear on her tenth album Unlocked, which is due for release in Spring. She is one of many artists up for awards in the annual event. The finalists for Recorded Music NZ Te Kaipuoro Tuawhenua Toa Best Country Music Artist feature two previous winners and a newcomer to the scene - Jody Direen for Smokin’ Ashes; Ryan Fisherman for Vibe; and Tami Neilson for Chickaboom! Sponsored by the Mataura Licensing Trust, the Gold Guitars are now in their 48th” - Catherine Downes


To Prison for Christ pg 15 (half way down)” - Nicky Moran / Jay Matenga

Missions Interlink NZ Bulletin Vol 17 No 11

Itinerant Gospel Musician Nicky Moran Tours All New Zealand Prisons  BAPTIST MAGAZINE 14-04-2017  COMMENTS  OUR STORIES  415  Touring New Zealand prisons with encouraging gospel concerts, Nicky Moran completed her first full nationwide prison tour during September and October 2016 with fifty-four concerts. Led by the Lord, and leaving her family and nursing job behind for a month, Nicky went into all the prisons to sing, share her testimony, and call those in prison back to the Lord. With four regional tours since 2015, Nicky has ‘learned the ropes,’ and plays covers and original songs on electric piano, acoustic guitar, and a looper—taking in her own sound system into every prison. “There’s a lot of set up and pack down, but my roadies are the chaplains, prison staff, and many times the prisoners themselves. Some even climb into the van to unload and reload the gear with me.” Nicky eagerly enters the prisons to find many souls hungry for encouragement. The message is love. “God loved us first, and he’s calling us to love him back,” she says. Nicky dares prisoners to trust God, and ask him for good things such as friendship and help to forgive those who have hurt them, bringing healing and change of heart and behaviour. She preaches, “Show a little love; share a little; give a little; show some kindness.”  On the latest tour, after hearing the stories and songs, a young prisoner testified to his group that he had been hurt by someone close to him, but could now forgive as he felt God helping him to do so. The one who had caused offence apologised, they embraced and cried together, and the whole unit was impacted by the response. Then there was prayer for a busted ankle with lots of ‘amens.’ In every prison, something incredible happens: God moves, and prisoners and staff laugh, cry, and sing. Some look stunned and appear so quiet before telling Nicky and the chaplains how they were moved.  Prisoners seek to help the ministry efforts as they want other prisoners to also have lasting change impact their lives, and will purchase albums if permitted. Recently, God has provided a replacement van for Nicky with contributions from supporters in the public. Life Plus Trust, from HamSouth Baptist Church, are continuing to sponsor transport costs as well as an assistant to help organise prison entries—this is a complicated business! Nicky had female drivers for the South Island leg, but toured all North Island prisons alone. She is generally billeted around the country, and ministers in the homes and places she stops. She appreciates all the prayer support and encouragement, as well as the financial and practical help that people give her, and maintains that God receives all the glory. All prisons have invited Nicky back with enthusiasm from staff, chaplains, and prisoners. She plans to continue to tour annually from September to October. You can read more about this story here, and on the Department of Corrections website and Facebook page. For updates from Nicky, check out her website and Facebook page. ” - Baptist magazine editor endorsed

Baptist magazine

Following prison tour 3:Fairfax media videoed one of my live concerts while inside Paremoremo Prison last Friday night and have put a videotaped interview and written full page article about it on stuff.co.nz on 11/10/2015 Behind the bars at Paremoremo  and Sunday Star Times 11/10/15 ran an article pg A8, apparently also featuring in local Auckland rags Auckland prison working with independent volunteers / Showcasing my national prison concerts. Also appeared on Radio Rhema live on air interview Tuesday 13/10 at 11am to discuss my prison concerts with the chaplaincy dept.” - Corrections press

Sunday Star Times

http://www.corrections.govt.nz/news/latest_news/singer_delivers_inspirational_messages_to_prisoners.html Singer delivers inspirational messages to prisoners Hamilton gospel singer/songwriter Nicky Moran received a warm and positive response when she performed to prisoners in Otago Corrections Facility (OCF) late last week. A part time mental health nurse at the Henry Bennett Centre in Waikato Hospital, Nicky has taken extended leave to tour and perform at New Zealand prisons as a national independent prison volunteer. “Events like this in the prison can be quite inspirational and have a great impact on the men,” says Acting OCF Prison Director Lyndal Miles. “They are often surprised by the impact that music can make to their thinking and how the lyrics connect with them.” Nicky is a singer/songwriter with distinctive vocals and keys. She sings unique folk, rock, country, gospel and soul styles. Each song she has chosen has a strong, inspirational message that connected with the audience, both prisoners and staff. In between songs she shares the meanings behind her songs and offers words of encouragement to the audience. Her varied song list includes covers of popular songs from well-known performers like Dave Dobbin and Leonard Cohen as well as self-composed numbers with a spiritual theme. “This is not something the men would necessarily engage with in the community and we get very positive and powerful feedback from the attendees,” says Lyndal. It is this connection that Nicky finds most rewarding and which is reflected in the response from the prisoner audience, which she says gave her “a strong reception.”  Other comments from the prison audience included ‘I feel inspired now, it's been hard to keep strong’. “A couple of men said they want to share that since being inside they feel they have started a new path and feel encouraged today and want to keep going that way. One also said he feels more hopeful about the future.” Beginning in January 2015, Nicky had done four regional tours by January 2016 with over 100 concerts in 17 prisons. She aims to continue to tour all New Zealand prisons with gospel concerts annually from mid-September to mid-October. This year she has released a new album 'New Zealand Kids Songs' for children to promote in schools and help raise funds for her prison tours. “I love singing and making music more than anything else. It takes me to another place. The songs I write are inspired, offering peace and hope on the journey of life,” says Nicky. Otago Corrections Facility was Nicky’s 9th prison, and her current tour concludes at Mt Eden in Auckland on Wednesday 19 October. “All sixty of the men in the prison Drug Treatment Unit attended and the concert was a hugely impressive event,” says OCF Residential Manager, Lane Groen. “Music has a way of connecting with people and reinforcing positive messages in a very powerful and meaningful way.  These events can have a big impact on the men.” After Nicky had finished, the prison cultural group gave her a small concert as a way of saying thank you. Prison Chaplain, Peter Collett added, “the performance was greatly enjoyed by the men. Nicky had them smiling, laughing and tapping their feet to the music.  She brings a lasting experience to heart and soul.” “It was a very moving afternoon for all involved.”  ” - Corrections in-house media

NZ Corrections Dept Website

  Prisoners praise gospel singer at Spring Hill Monday, 26 September 2016, 2:59 pmPress Release: Department Of Corrections http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/CU1609/S00406/prisoners-praise-gospel-singer-at-spring-hill.html Prisoners praise gospel singer at Spring Hill Corrections Facility Hamilton gospel singer/songwriter Nicky Moran entertained more than 120 prisoners at Spring Hill Corrections Facility this month. Nicky, who is also a part time mental health nurse at the Henry Bennett Centre in Waikato Hospital, tours New Zealand prisons, performing and sharing inspirational messages. In between songs she shares the meanings behind her songs and offers words of encouragement to the audience. Prison chaplains explain that the purpose of the tour is not just to entertain, but also lift morale and motivation. “The feedback from the concert has been incredibly heartening with many prisoners asking for more concerts as a result,” says Reverend Viliame Tuisoso. Viliame found the men to be very uplifted following the experience and many shared how much they gained as a result. One prisoner wrote down his feedback as below: “Last week I had the privilege of attending the concert you organised in the whare hui with the visiting Christian Artist Nicky Moran performing for the inmates. I just wanted to write and express my deep gratitude for making such an event happen here at Spring Hill. Nicky’s presentation was very professional, but more than that, her ease of communication and candidness made self reflection easy which led to a strong desire to make critical changes in one’s life. Everyone in the auditorium thoroughly enjoyed the whole event, with both guards and inmates still talking about it a week later. It was truly an inspirational and motivational time that can only be healthy for those who attended and therefore the entire prison. I along with many of the men who attended hope that it is not long before she and others like her come back. Thank you once again for your foresight in making this wonderful time happen. God bless.” Nicky says she finds the tours rewarding and feedback from audiences is always positive.  Her varied song list includes covers of popular songs from well-known performers like Joe Cocker and Bob Dylan as well as self-composed numbers with a spiritual theme. Each song has a strong, inspirational message. Chaplain Rangihono Huirama says that the change in some of the audience members can be significant: “It’s the passion and love with which she performs that really helps the audience to find a little bit of peace when she sings. That little bit of hope can be all that’s needed to help someone on a path to making better choices actually turn their lives around.” ENDS © Scoop Media” - Scoop Media

Scoop independent News

GOSPEL SINGER LIFTS PRISONERS SPIRITS Nicky_Moran_coverage_-_UH_Leader.pdf” - Communications at Department of Corrections NZ

— Upper Hutt Leader (Newspaper)

Singer/songwriter delivers inspirational messages Hamilton gospel singer/songwriter Nicky Moran received a warm and positive response when she performed to prisoners in Arohata and Rimutaka prisons this week.  A part time mental health nurse at the Henry Bennett Centre in Waikato Hospital, Mrs Moran took leave without pay to entertain prisoners on her tour of prisons in the South Island and lower North Island.  It’s work she finds rewarding which is reflected in the feedback from the two Wellington prisons where she says she “received a strong reception in the female units and a warm and enthusiastic reception in Rimutaka.”  A varied song list includes covers of popular songs from well-known performers like Joe Cocker and Bob Dylan as well as self-composed numbers with a spiritual theme.  Each song has a strong, inspirational message. In between songs she shares the meanings behind her songs and offers words of encouragement to the audience. Bruce Edwards, Principal Corrections Officer at Rimutaka, said the men were most appreciative of the performances. “She had them smiling, laughing and some chose to sing along while others tapped their feet.  Each song had a strong inspirational message for all of us here, prisoners including staff.” Rimutaka prisoner John* described the concert as “a blessing from God”. “Thanks to Nicky for sharing with us.” Having just completed touring South Island prisons Mrs Moran will perform in Whanganui, Manawatu, Hawkes Bay Regional and Tongariro/Rangipo prisons before her tour concludes on Monday 25 January. She has released a new albums of songs for children to promote in schools this year to help raise funds for her prison tours. * not his real name  Further information Nicky’s tour by numbers: 13 concerts performed in 5 South Island prisons; 26 concerts in 6 lower North Island prisons. Tour completed in 16 days. A tour of upper North Island prisons is in planning for September.” - Corrections Communications

— Dept of Corrections NZ interview

Gospel singer brings message of hope to prisoners (Created on 12.10.15) Gospel singer Nicky Moran performs at Auckland Prison   Nicky Moran with Reverend Perema Alofivae, chaplaincy team leader at Auckland Prison. It started with an out-of-the-blue encounter in a Waikato store with a former prisoner who had heard Nicky Moran sing at Rolleston Prison.  He gave her the confirmation she needed to take her gospel-styled music to other prisons, to bring a message of hope and light to those inside the wire. Gospel singer Nicky Moran performs at Auckland Prison. “I still remember this man calling out to me, ‘Hey, lady, you sang to us, and me and my mates have changed. I’m here to tell you to go to all the prisons in New Zealand. You don’t need a team; go in as you are’,” recalls Nicky. Seventeen prisons and 66 concerts later, and three tours up and down the country since January this year, and the volunteer gospel singer/songwriter is raring to do it all again next year. She has already been invited back. Nicky visited Auckland Prison on 1 and 2 October, her second-last stop for the year. Subsequent performances at Auckland South Corrections Facility brought her nationwide prison tour for 2015 to a close.  Nicky’s six concerts at Auckland Prison were attended by over 100 prisoners. “The intention is to build on what she has awakened in the men, and keep on assuring them that are still very much part of New Zealand society. They are not forgotten, as Nicky and her extraordinary talent have show-cased,” says Deacon David Marshall, prison chaplain at Auckland Prison.  Nicky is a classically trained pianist, and the married mother of two young children has been writing songs for 25 years.  Nicky Moran with Reverend Perema Alofivae, chaplaincy team leader at Auckland Prison. Her distinctive vocals and keys echo the folk, rock, country, gospel and soul styles of artists such as Annie Lennox and Aretha Franklin. Nicky has had an exceptional journey of healing and transformation, after battling a serious illness. “My heart is to sing to bring out the good in people’s lives. Through my music, I want prisoners’ hope and faith to rise up, and let them know forgiveness exists and that they can make a fresh start.” According to Julia Prescott, Assistant Prison Director of Auckland Prison, more volunteers, like Nicky, are needed to come into prisons to support prisoners. “We really appreciate Nicky’s services as a volunteer, and how she shines a light in what can be a dark place at times.”  Nicky’s music has been well received by prisoners at Auckland Prison. “The concert was briliant,” says *Kevin. “For me, the music consolidates my faith, and gives me and the other guys hope.” For Reverend Perema Alofivae, chaplaincy team leader at Auckland Prison, the therapeutic value of the music is important.  “We look after prisoners’ spiritual needs. Even though all our chaplaincy programmes are voluntary, the men turn up. Concerts, like Nicky’s, also complement the other rehabilitation programmes in which prisoners participate.”  Nicky, who works part-time as a nurse at Waikato Hospital, says although she was stretched during the past year, “it was one of the best times of my life”.  “I just got in my old, clapped-out van, took annual leave or leave without pay, and went hard out to bring my message of encouragement and faith to the prisoners. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be.”” - Alta van Wyk Northern Region Communications Advisor at Corrections NZ

— Dept of Corrections NZ Internal Website News to staff

Behind the bars at Paremoremo Gospel singer Nicky Moran performing to prisoners at Paremoremo As taxpayers begin a $300 million expansion of the country's biggest maximum-security prison, inmates debate whether jail helps hardened crims turn their lives around. We go behind the bars at Paremoremo. Nicky Moran arrives alone to the afternoon gig in a clapped-out van loaded with a keyboard and a guitar. Waiting for her are rows of men dressed in beige, most of whom are grinning at the sight of a woman. For the next hour the Christian songwriter serenades the group with songs about freedom, joy and sunshine. The lyrics seem inappropriate in a building lined with barbed wire and guards standing close to each exit. But Moran, a nurse and mother of two, has a greater purpose than simply entertaining Auckland's Paremoremo prison inmates with classic rock songs – she wants to bring a message of hope to those inside the wire. I believe there is a measure of healing inside a song for each person," she says. "I found that in my own life ...the truth will set them free. Moran's talk about prisoners being "set free" only serves to highlight the glint of the iron bars encaging her audience. It also sets in stark relief Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga's visit to Paremoremo on Thursday, where he celebrated the Government's in more cells, more iron bars. Gospel singer Nicky Moran performs to inmates at Auckland Prison, Paremoremo, in the hope "the truth will set them free". / Photo: Shane Wenzlick/Fairfax Media The minister donned a hard hat and climbed into a digger to turn the first ceremonial sod on a redevelopment at Auckland Prison. As the bucket's teeth bit into Paremoremo's dusty terrain, Lotu-Iiga boasted of a $300 million project that will enable the prison to hold up to 260 maximum-security prisoners. But what exactly we are using these bars and bricks for?  We lock people up for the public's safety, Sensible Sentencing Trust founder Garth McVicar explains. He thinks this should be the fundamental principle of the justice system. Following this, the second priority is punishment. "We shouldn't be ashamed to talk about that," McVicar says. "Criminals need to be punished for their actions." Society's revenge on those who do wrong. McVicar's worry is that our country's prison policy is more concerned about helping inmates than punishing them. Public safety. Vengeance. Deterrence. Eye-for-an-eye. Utu. McVicar dusts off an age-old philosophical divide: should our prisons be about punishment or rehabilitation? Mike Williams, the chief executive of the Howard League for Penal Reform, disagrees with the very dichotomy. He says prisons are, in fact, about both. "But I think the pendulum is swinging towards rehabilitation." The truth of the matter is 99 per cent of our prisoners will get out at some point, William says. "So if they are going to get out eventually your objective must be to ensure they are not criminals when they get out. HOT IN THE KITCHEN Chef" is a small and skinny man. He speaks softly and pauses between sentences not just to gather his thoughts but almost as if to make sure what he is saying is right. The conversation speeds up only once his new career is mentioned. The 57-year-old has taken up a job serving out the meals in the prison kitchen at Paremoremo. He can't praise it enough. His cooking abilities, once limited to "fatty" boil ups, now include pastries and Asian meals. But it's the taste of being entrusted with a job that he enjoys the most. "I used to have an attitude towards the system and it's taken a number of years to deal with it,"  he says. "Now I have a responsible job I've learnt to respect my job and respect people in authority." Chef credits a visiting nun for showing him "a different way to live" nine years ago, around the time he arrived in prison. He still has time left to serve of his sentence but has thrown himself into a number of programmes to help him foster his new way of life. Having these concerts consolidates my faith and gives not only hope for myself by for other guys who are in prison," he says. "It's made available, it's free and it is a choice we all make for ourselves without any pressure from anyone. I think the clapping speaks for itself. Sitting at the back of Moran's gig is Auckland Prison's assistant director Julia Prescott, who's nodding her head. She thinks Moran's music could be the spark an inmate needs to help turn their lives around. Low self-esteem and low self-worth are issues among prisoners," Prescott explains. "Without negating the crimes that have been committed prisoners can learn, through what Nicky is doing, that they can turn their lives around. But it is their choice. Prescott talks a lot about rehabilitation. She's been focused on it for more than two decades having recently arrived in New Zealand after working in the UK for Her Majesty's Prison Service. We had great reducing re-offending figures and we are looking at implementing some of those strategies here." "Put the prisoner at the centre of what you are doing and that is when you can start addressing the problems. The Department of Corrections is proud of its stated aim to reduce reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017. And as the date draws near it seems Corrections is willing to use every possible method to ensure it reached its target. Pre-release programmes, work opportunities, drug and alcohol treatments and education schemes are offered to reintegrate every prisoner back into the community. Williams claims that if Corrections manages to achieve its goal then our country's incarceration rate would drop by 30 per cent. But McVicar is adamant rehabilitation won't work if offenders haven't been punished. "We need to focus on punishment and then rehabilitation once they've served time." He believes rehabilitation is a therapeutic ideology that doesn't work for everyone. He's got figures from the Ministry of Justice to prove it. According to an Official Information Act request, the average offender has 9.3 convictions by the time of their first jail term. "If you can rehabilitate those people then you would have rehabilitated them long before they were imprisoned," McVicar says. "The problem is when they get to prison they're not long off becoming a career criminals. OUT AND NOT PROUD Fa'afete Taito wears a grey hoodie to cover his tattooed arms but it can't hide the dull green ones that have spilled out over his knuckles. They're all done in jail, Taito says. "They were like badges of honour but now I wear long shirts so people won't see them. It's funny that I'm thinking I better cover up." Taito has recently earned himself a new honour: a Bachelor's degree in Sociology and Maori. It's a big achievement for the former King Cobra gang member and high profile career criminal, who in the last four decades has spent time in all but one prison in the North Island. But the Department of Corrections can't take the praise for his transformation, he says. Taito's resistance to his adopted father's harsh discipline and strict religious guidance pushed him to run away from his Grey Lynn home as a teenager.  He left school at the age of 12, was made a ward of the state by 14 and was a gang member by the time he was 16. He remained with the King Cobras for 14 years before leaving the gang to pursue a life as a career criminal. But an aggravated robbery of security guards at Auckland's St Lukes Shopping Centre in 1995 landed Taito a seven year prison sentence. He appealed his conviction in the Supreme Court 10 years later, citing problems such as missing trial documents, the empanelling of the jury and the incompetence of the counsel. His application was dismissed. At the time of the appeal, Taito was serving another eight-year prison sentence after he and five other were caught conspiring in a massive drug trade in 2003. The group's high profile trial at Auckland's High Court earned them lots of support from behind prison bars. When we got to Mt Eden there was just pounding on the doors because we were on the news being sentenced. We're talking 96 inmates banging on the doors to support us. You couldn't hear anything." Yet despite his dubious success as a career criminal, Taito made the decision to give up on P six years ago. "When the drug becomes more important than the money you are losing your way," he explains. He did it of his own accord and without a rehabilitation or pre-release programme. "When I look back at it, I think there is no rehabilitation in jail. I just can't think of any programmes I've attended that helped me or gave me any sense or sort of direction when coming out." Rehabilitation is appealing for offenders who want to be considered for early parole. They're serving time and will do anything to make the clock tick faster, he explains. But Taito wished Corrections would focus less on getting offenders ready for employment, and more on countering the distorted views of power and control that he thinks jail promotes. Behind bars in mainstream prison is a hierarchy of inmates, governed by gangs. Violence is the native language. "Forget about the officers and the prison authorities, in that jungle it's all about male dominance and that's what jail promotes 24/7," Taito warns. "What you don't have in jail is to have actual teaching for men how to temper that. Control is at the forefront of every prisoners minds. Take the smuggled mobile phones for instance: Drug deals are only part of the reason they are smuggled into prison. Most of the time they are used so inmates can talk to their wives – to check she is home, to make sure they're still in control, Taito says. "So all you're doing when you're giving them work skills is you're enabling them to generate the income when they get out. Then not only is he the macho male in the family, he's got an income and now he's really the boss." Taito says inmates need practical rehabilitation programmes that helps them to learn to address their relationships with their partners, spouses and families. You can have all the drug treatments you want and all the work skill programmes you need but if they are not doing anything in which to strengthen what is for most people the most significant relationship that is going to keep them out of the place. FREE TO A GOOD HOME A single yawn is heard as Nicky Moran nears the end of her set. Stern glances are fired at the culprit before attention turns back to the curly haired woman at the front of the room. The inmates aren't heckling or smirking, they are attentive and they are listening. For a moment the Hamilton mother has the attention of 30 inmates, all with lists of victims and criminal records attached to their names. It seems like her message is getting through. Last year she had an encounter in a Hamilton Warehouse with a former inmate who remembered her performance to his Rolleston Prison unit. He called out: "Hey lady, you sang to us and me and my mates have changed. I'm here to tell you to go to all the prisons in New Zealand. You don't need a team, go in as you are. Seventeen prisons and 66 concerts later, the Waikato Hospital nurse has no plans to stop using her annual leave to sing to criminals around the country. "Through my music, I want prisoners' hope and faith rise up and let them know forgiveness exists and that they can make a fresh start. Chef is still locked up but is working to make sure he doesn't leave the way he entered. He's been given a choice: to get involved with the rehabilitation programmes and work towards a fresh start. Or not. "I've got to appreciate what I'm learning and what is available here," he says. Moran's rhetoric may be more spiritual than that of the inmates. But her message makes sense: Rehabilitation, in its most basic form, is someone reaching out and offering a prisoner the chance to be set free. Because most will be freed from prison – so it's important to the communities to which they return that they are also freed of the motivations to commit crime.  - Sunday Star Times    ” - Elesha Edmonds reporter

Sunday Star Times

For many of us, the thought of being asked to minister in a prison puts us a long way out of our comfort zone. Probably even more so if you are a woman travelling alone on the road for up to month at a time. Yet this is precisely Nicky’s mission – a strong call into the dark places of our society, more specifically our prisons. She sings songs of God’s love and hope where there is sometimes little. So far she has visited every prison south of Hamilton and is about to embark on a new series of visits in Auckland and Northland. So what is it that drives someone to take this path? What is it like to be present in the gritty realism of life in prison? Naturally, the best way to find out is to ask the lady herself. Nicky, what caused you to begin this ministry? Nearly ten years ago, I was struck with chemical poisoning and suffered from boils all over my body. I was weak, in pain and exhausted. As I was treated, I cried out to God who gave me love and friends to encourage me and also many ‘downloaded heavenly songs.’ This period shaped me (ouch!) to sing for him and after twenty years of song writing, I was seeing people experiencing God significantly through these songs. I could barely stand or walk at times and Christians would literally pray me out of bed to come lead worship. In 2007, I was woken in the night by the Lord (I found out later a lady I didn’t know from church had been compelled to intensely pray for seven days for me). During this night, I felt God lead me to pray about going into prisons with music. As I prayed about it, I tried again and again to be allowed to visit the prisons but nothing happened. After three years, in frustration, I told God I was abandoning that prayer and told him that if the prisons were where he wanted me, he would have to make it happen. Minutes later I was phoned by my previous church and asked whether I would be part of the regular team to go into Spring Hill Prison as a worship leader. Every time I went into prison it felt incredible. I sensed a strong peace and the presence of God enter in with me at the gates, with love and excitement, courage and boldness. I took a break after a year, then to release new albums, in January 2014 I toured lower NZ including one prison, after which one of the chaplains wrote to every prison and recommended me. This was quite a scary concept and I sat on the letter and did nothing until in October 2014, after avoidance and luke-warm prayers, I began asking God fervently what he was saying about my involvement with the prisons now. I became so gripped to know God’s heart for me that I contacted a friend and asked her to pray with me, which she did whilst pulled over to the side of the road for nearly an hour. Later that day, an ex-prisoner from the South Island found me in the Hamilton Warehouse and told me how God had turned his life around the day I came to his former prison nine months earlier. God had profoundly changed his life, he testified, and the lives of many of his fellow prisoners. This man told me God was calling me into the prisons and that the prisoners needed me to tell them my story and share songs. He encouraged me that I didn't need a team, but to go as I am and that the Lord would show me. He quoted scripture and for about twenty minutes expounded on how God has called me into the prisons. From that day forward I have followed the Lord into prisons! I will go anywhere, do anything, say anything and sing any song to whomever God leads me to. So what is your purpose in going into the prisons? I want to deliberately release an experience of God’s love and a real encounter of who he is for those there. In working with the prisons, it's all about reducing re-offending and helping those in prison make a choice that can change behaviour for the better by the time they finish their sentence and re-enter the wider community.   Prisoners need encouragement, they need to know they have a purpose, with a hope for the future. I long to see ex-prisoners supported in the community by mature Christians, who have befriended them before they leave prison and continue to mentor and follow them up with encouragement after they leave. They need a good crowd to hang out with and some prisoners tell me churches are resistant to them being in their midst so they tend to find other former prisoners to fellowship with. It can be very lonely. What do your times in the prisons look like? They do vary depending on how I feel led and depending on what people want to hear. It is usually about an hour of singing songs which I explain the meaning to, telling stories from my life and acknowledging the highs and lows of life, sharing my testimony of all that Jesus has healed and changed in me and explaining the gospel message simply. I bring a call for those who hear to choose to turn to God and put their faith in Him. How is it received? In sensing God’s love for the prisoners, I share this and can honestly say there is nowhere I would rather be in that moment, than with them. They visibly change before my eyes. I have seen tears in the eyes of many prisoners and some guards as the Lord impacts them during the songs and I have been privileged to pray with prisoners after a concert and see their faith rise. I have been honoured to be greeted with a powhiri before entering each Maori focus unit and to have the time completed with a haka. One time, I was given a box of veges grown by a prisoner in the South Island; he was so impacted, he wanted to give something back. You cannot receive gifts from prisoners, however it’s culturally insensitive not to in some cases, and so with permission I have received carvings including Jesus ascending, taonga (carved treasure), handmade flowers, letters, cards of appreciation and a Bible verse painting sent after I left, via the chaplain.   Sometimes the prisoners ask me to come back just to jam with them if they have facilities. I am a one women band, so there is entertainment even from my feet working multiple pedals and dials! What skills have you developed to feel confident in this ministry? I have had to learn to rely on God and trust in his leading, through his Spirit, his Word and other people. Through many years of seeking him through sickness, with seemingly impossible promises given back, my belief and trust has deepened. A radical healing six years ago has been part of this journey. Musically, I have had to develop my playing, singing and leading in situations that can provide challenging distractions. During an early concert, my two children (darlings) had a full-on punch up in front of everyone – I was mid-song, my husband was trying to run the video and powerpoint and everyone else was too polite to stop them! Another example was playing live on the street (hired by a café) with intoxicated people commenting, lunging and mocking. My nemesis 'Distraction and Confusion' showed its head but all of this experience has been valuable – for example, I play regularly in a mental health institution with rapidly changing circumstances and so I have developed my ability to bring calm and peace into volatile situations just with a therapeutic God-inspired song. I have also had to work on my confidence in sharing my testimony privately and publicly, and learnt to prayerfully and studiously prepare notes to speak from. Over time, I have been able to relax this but I practice speaking, testifying and preaching in many situations, ladies events especially. Do you ever feel like you are in danger? No, I feel safe - like ten feet tall and bulletproof at times. Other times, I feel like I'm invisible to the enemy. I know I have angels with me and I feel a sense of peace and welcoming regardless of the circumstances. I feel a sense of excitement and exhilaration in every prison, something like a child going to Disneyland! Please pray for Nicky. Her prayer for the prisons is from Psalm 24 - that the King of glory would be let in. Perhaps you could join her in this prayer. If you want to know more specific details of what Nicky gets up to, some direction for specific prayer requests or you are able to support and encourage her in other ways, check out her Facebook page or website www.nickymoran.com. You are also able to purchase her music here.  Dave and Nicky Moran ” - Edited by Sarah Vaine, information supplied by Dave & Nicky Moran

Baptist Magazine NZ