Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson made a special visit to the Everglades Correctional Institution in Miami joined by his wife, acclaimed singer Ciara, encouraging the inmates.
Wilson partnered with an organization, God Behind Bars, to fellowship with 300 incarcerated men at the maximum security prison. Wilson shared a personal testimony and Ciara performed a rendition of the hit song “Way Maker.”
“They came out and it was an amazing event,” God Behind Bars founder and CEO Jake Bodine told USA TODAY Sports. “I know it forever marked the men that are in that facility. Russell and his wife Ciara were amazing as they poured out their love and God’s love on these men for the few hours we were in that facility.”
Wilson reached out to God Behind Bars and wanted to get involved after seeing one of their videos on social media. He was invited to the Everglades prison.
“They were just friends in the room encouraging other friends at the end of the day,” Bodine said of the couple. “I thought that was pretty admirable and remarkable.”
God Behind Bars began in 2009, aiming to transform the lives of inmates and their families while connecting them with a local church in the area. The group is currently working to help inmates in 20 different states and 62 locations.
“Ultimately, by connecting them to the local church, we can set them up for their future in hopes they never return to prison again,” Bodine said.
They also created an app that allows for inmates to have access to messages, devotionals, worship music and a virtual prayer wall.
Bodine said that Wilson and Ciara visiting the Everglades prison shows their love for people.
“They are using their platform to fulfill their God-given purpose at the end of the day,” Bodine said. “It’s inspiring to each and every one of us to do the same in our own lives.”
Wilson continues to give back off the field. He works alongside Ciara to help those in need through his “Why Not You?” foundation and makes frequent trips to visit Denver youth at the Children’s Hospital in Aurora, Colo.
His community efforts were recognized as he won the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award in 2020. He also earned the Bart Starr Award that is bestowed to an NFL player that demonstrates outstanding leadership on and off the field.