An Afternoon in the Santa Cruz Prison

Our tour bus lurched and bumped its way around a final turn in the pock-marked Santa Cruz road before it stopped close to the tall, barb-wire crested walls of the Bolivian State Prison: Centro de Rehabilitacion Santa Cruz “Palmasola”.  The Santa Cruz Jail is really a walled town where the inmates build their own homes and eke out a living within its four guarded walls.  Prisoners are allowed to have their spouses and children stay with them at different points though the week – a healthy strategy in rehabilitation and restoration. This was another first for our break-off group of 20 who were scheduled to distribute bibles and witness to the prisoners – an incredible opportunity – really a miracle clearly orchestrated by God! The main jail chaplain (a former prisoner who has dedicated himself to reaching out to the inmates) prompted by the Lord, decided to describe our Canadian group visit as a “violin concert” for the inmates on the application forms he submitted.  He shared with us that in the history of the jail, there had never been an event like this for the inmates. He feels that God gave him the words to use on the forms to open the door for us to be there!

The front gate of Centro de Rehabilitacion Santa Cruz “Palmasola”

A corner guard tower on the front wall

The Santa Cruz Jail is like nothing I have ever experienced. We were instructed to leave all jewelry, including my wedding ring, at our hotel. All cameras were to be left behind as well. I kept mine with me to try to snap a photo or two of the outside of the institution from our bus as we drove by and parked close by. We could only bring those items into the jail that had been pre-approved on the application/clearance forms: my electric violin, MacBook Pro (to drive our loops/tracks) and related gear were the only items on the list … so my acoustic violin (and camera) stayed on our bus. All interior photos you see in this post were taken by a guard who is the official jail photographer. He graciously (and secretly) gave us copies of the photos he took from our visit.  Tony Lind (guitarist) brought his electric guitar and pedals (no amp on the list, so he was fortunate enough to be given the loan of an amp modeler pedal at the last minute) which fit as “gear”.

The tall barb-wired walls of the prison village

Our group of 20, passports in hand, formed a long single file line in from the the main entrance – I was second in line the “famous Canadian violinist” with his “entourage” as the clearance forms read! A huge iron front entrance gate rolled open revealing the prison village. A stern security guard stamped and hand wrote a number on our right forearms. Each member of the group carried a box of bibles. It was quite a sight to look back from my vantage point at our team winding behind bringing the “Word of Life” into this dark place (800 copies in total)! We wound through an open area where Horses grazed in and around an garbage dump (everything is self contained in this jail)  to a second security point where our arms were again stamped and numbered. The guards at this check point were curious about our bibles. I opened up a box and pulled out a bible to show the guard. He wanted it. Instantly, all the other guards at the check-point asked for one – six more bibles were grabbed. An interpreter told me to stop … that we needed to move on. We were now entering the actual prison village where all the inmates lived. A large group of men, hardened lives engraved in faces and eyes parted to let us through – I locked eyes with a man whose left eyelids were eaten away by some weird tropical disease (a horrible sight) …  a man with a wheelbarrow excitedly motioned and asked in Spanish to help carry some boxes of bibles but our interpreter/guide told us to ignore him and move on … that this could cause a riot from others wanting to help too (I felt badly for this man who was simply wanting to help and reach out to us) … Sewage ran out of buildings and houses into ditches on each side of the road …  Men, women and children curiously peered out of doorways and balconies as our procession snaked toward the central square of the institutionalized village. Joy was absent from this place. Fear and suspicion ruled.

Our forearms were stamped with level one and two clearance stamps and numbers. I am number two in line, Tony is number three.

We finally arrived at a covered concrete stage at one end of the square where a make-shift sound-system had been set up. I paused for a moment to take it all in from my new vantage point. Inmates began to gather around as Tony Lind and I set up and sound-checked. Our group from Canada were introduced and our concert set began. I have played on concert stages around the world, but this was like no stage I had ever been on before! As we performed a group of inmates in full soccer uniform were playing a spirited game in the distance – the players seemed to move like ballet dancers to the beat of our music. Our prisoner audience grew as our set progressed. It was incredible to see the changes in the countenance of each inmate as we performed. Joy, trust and peace began to return. God was using our music to soften hearts and minds and prepare them for the gospel message. The 6th song on our set was “El Cóndor Pasa” (the Condor flies past) – a well known South American folk song made popular by Simon and Garfunkel. Spontaneous cheers rang out from the convicts as we began … tears began to flow … we had connected … we were now one of them. This song symbolized freedom … as we played I couldn’t help but reflect on the following words from Isaiah 40: 29-31:

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Next, I shared my story via my interpreter, Jorge Soria from Peru. The themes of hope and God’s healing and grace in the middle of pain, loss and hardship really resonated with the inmates. They spontaneously broke out into cheers and applause (another first for me) at different points as I spoke of God being my “daddy” and the “healing I have received from abuse”  …  We closed our set with “Iyale” – a tie-in song to my story which is a celebrative West African styled song I have dedicated to my dad, Dr. Kenneth Dick, prefaced with these words: “Although I have missed my dad all these years, I have the hope that one day I will see him in heaven” …

Tony and I start our concert set

Performing for some children of the inmates who sit on the front steps of the stage

Following our set, Peter Marshall, Executive Director of Gideons Canada, gave a powerful five minute gospel message. During the altar call, most of the inmates (an estimated 600) put up their hands and prayed to receive Jesus into their lives. All 800 bibles were distributed as Tony and I performed “Passion”. We then ended our prison concert with a celebrative “Blues Jam” and “Yahweh”.

Peter Marshall (right) preaches a Gospel message interpreted by Jorge Soria from Peru (left)

Many inmates raise their hands and pray to receive Christ

Eight hundred bibles were given out as gifts to inmates

As I look back on our afternoon in the Santa Cruz Prison, I am in awe of the power of instrumental music (dedicated to God) to calm the spirit and restore the soul. I am reminded of the story of David (1 Samuel 16) and how God used his music on the harp to calm the troubled spirit of King Saul. This is what the ministry of Flyingbow is all about. I left that place knowing I had been in the center of God’s will … with real confirmation that I was doing His restorative work as a music missionary in partnership with Gideons Canada.


This email just went out to all the friends and supporters of Flyingbow … also posted here on my blog in a more interactive environment.

Dear Friends and Supporters,

It has been a little while since I last gave an update on the Flyingbow Music Ministry. As I write, I am excited to be going into Phase One Studios this coming Monday to start recording the next CD Project with the Band. We have been hard at work rehearsing for this coming week of tracking – all brand new, exciting material that we cannot wait to perform live.


“Digging deep” in Richard Cleaver’s Studio, recording our last 2007 Christmas project.

Here are a few bullet updates on Flyingbow:

• The band and I enter Phase One Recording Studio A, one of Canada’s finest recording facilities, for a week of tracking our next Flyingbow CD Project, engineered by Richard Cleaver. We plan to have the new album completed for a Fall CD Release Tour in Southern Ontario and wherever else we get booked … watch for our Tour Dates on my Calendar as they are posted. More “Glory and Peace” Christmas Productions are scheduled for November and December 2009 so keep your eyes open for those.

• It is encouraging to know share that Flyingbow is now Incorporated as a Ministry and, Lord willing, only months away from receiving full charitable status from the Government of Canada. I want to thank the Flyingbow Board and Smith Valeriote Law Firm for their excellent work and support on this.

• We are happy to announce that the original song, “Glory”, from the 2007 “Glory and Peace” Christmas CD project has been nominated for the 2009 International “Just Plain Folks Award” for Seasonal Song of the Year.

• Speaking of Awards, Steve Heathcote, drummer in our band, recently won the 2009  Canadian Smooth Jazz Drummer of the Year Award. We are proud of his accomplishments. I have said this before, but I am very honoured to perform with some of the best musician friends in the country – the 5th String BLVD. Band!

• I will be joining Music Artist, Geoff Moore at Lakeside Church, Guelph on Nov. 14/09 for an exciting Compassion Sunday Event. Really looking forward to this.

• There are lot’s of other Concert Bookings coming up as well this Fall, including some Full Band concerts in Waterloo and Uxbridge plus a Mini Tour once more to beautiful Nova Scotia.


With the Band in the studio in 2007, recording “Glory and Peace”. From left to right: Brad Toews (keys), Corey Lacey (guitar), Trevor Dick (violin), Will Jarvis (bass) and Steve Heathcote (drums).


Mastering our last project at Cherry Beach Sound with Engineers, Richard Cleaver (on the right) and Inaam Haq (on the left).

I want to thank all of you who have made the sacrifices this year to sponsor a child through Compassion Canada. You are making a difference for eternity. Remember to take the time to write letters to your child. They are treasured! As a Compassion Artist, Compassion is a big part of what I do in this Music Missionary Ministry. To sponsor a child today, link to:

Online ordering and digital downloads of all our CD’s are available through CD Baby (VISA, MASTERCARD, AMERICAN EXPRESS or PAYPAL accepted). All the songs can be previewed there as well. Phone orders are also available at 519-837-3571.

I love keeping in touch with each of you. If you are a Facebook, Myspace or Youtube user, I would be happy to be your friend. This Blog is, however, the BEST PLACE to interact with me directly … a place where I post regular updates, ponderings, pictures, video clips and more … and a place where you can post your thoughts and comments as well below.

Thank you for your continued support. Enjoy the rest of your Summer. I look forward to hearing from you and seeing you at a concert soon. More details on the new CD will be posted regularly so stay tuned.

God Bless!

Trevor  <><