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Dordt College News

Prairie Grass Productions produces Cornerstone Prison Ministry video

November 11, 2013

“I’m probably freer inside the walls than I ever was outside,” said an inmate of the South Dakota State Penitentiary in Sioux Falls about his life in prison. It is a sentiment that several inmates shared with Dordt College’s video production company Prairie Grass Productions (PGP). The group produced a video told from the perspective of the inmates who are part of Cornerstone Prison Ministries, a Christian Reformed Church within the prison.

Produced for the Classis Iakota bi-annual meeting held in October, the video is called Cornerstone Prison Church—A Christian Reformed Church inside the SD State Pen. The team was only allowed eight hours to shoot. Twelve digital media students worked with the video’s director and Dordt College Professor Mark Volkers, assisting with everything from lighting to framing shots, setting up audio, and more.

“This is just another example of the excellent opportunities Dordt provides for its students,” said Dordt College Senior Caleb Vugteveen of Chilliwack, British Columbia. “As I near the end of my college career, I think I finally understand what Professor Volkers has been teaching me all along—that the film industry is a mission field and Christian filmmakers are missionaries.”

Volkers takes Dordt College digital media production students to unique locations throughout the year, sometimes to local ministries, and often to slums in countries like India, Kenya, the Philippines, and more. “Having the opportunity to take students on real-world assignments like this one is so valuable,” said Volkers. “Classroom projects are important and necessary, but being on site is where some of the best learning takes place.”

Dordt College also has a Prison Ministries Club. Four or five times a semester, Dordt students worship and fellowship with the inmates at the South Dakota Penitentiary. Club Leader Joel Kranenburg says that being part of the worship service is mutually beneficial. He’s chosen to be part of the ministry “because I recognize its importance for God, for the inmates, and for my own personal growth. I’m passionate about this ministry and chose to lead because I want to encourage more students to participate in this experience.”

The inmates confess that the work of Cornerstone and all those who help with the ministry play a vital role. “I didn’t think there was any coming back,” said an inmate. “But you can come back because the redemptive power of Jesus is without limit. As long as you’re still breathing, Jesus can work a miracle.”

Prairie Grass Productions is an award-winning company with several prestigious awards including Davey, Telly, Ava, Webby, and Marcom awards. To learn more about Prairie Grass Productions and the digital media productions program at Dordt College, visit www.dordt.edu/media.

To view the video, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYtzVUTAeu0.

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