The Shining Light story begins in 1996 when Jeffrey Bohn started a high school performing arts ensemble in a small, rural Pennsylvania church. The ensemble began by offering presentations in churches, cultures, and situations that would stretch the youth spiritually, culturally, and artistically. Adding local college students to the group in 1997 brought new talent and in 1999, a surprising opportunity surfaced to reach a new audience – the prison population.
The need for hope through Christ was clear.
The surprise was how quickly the arts built a bridge to this audience and how evident God was in the entire process. Since then, God has enabled SL Ministries to serve in 53 correctional facilities throughout the US while exposing the needs of this population to its participants and leaders. In 2012, SL Ministries began recruiting its participants from college dance, music, and theater departments across the United States. Since then, 30 students have been selected annually for a month-long Impact Tour in which a 90-minute performing arts presentation is developed and offered at 12 correctional facilities.
At the same time, the need for positive change in our criminal justice system moved to the forefront of our national conversation. In 2015 we worked with the administration of the Philadelphia Department of Corrections to develop a program called the Impact Workshop. In the Workshop our young adults work with inmates to offer a performing arts presentation of hope to other inmates. This provides an opportunity for inmates to serve other inmates, develop pro-social skills, and grow in their faith. Based on the initial success of the Workshop program, we have begun working with many more state and county facilities to offer Workshops in various other locations.
“Expanding perspective and impacting lives” has been the focus in all the work of Shining Light Ministries since the start. We have been pioneers in developing new and effective means of offering hope that leads to life change in correctional facilities. We also have found a previously unmet need for service opportunities for young performing artists who are seeking to use their gifts and skills in ministry.