Motivational speaker Bob Goff led an eclectic group of celebrities into San Quentin’s Protestant Chapel on Feb. 25 to bring a message of hope and inspiration through “Adventures in Faith and Love.”
Some at San Quentin know Goff from previous visits. Derry “Brotha D” Brown smiled broadly as he talked about the warmth of Goff’s greeting, “He embraces people; that’s what I like about him,” said Brown. “He’s inclusive, not exclusive. The other people [with him] were good, too.”
The other people Brown referred to include the cast of Duck Dynasty, American Idol star Danny Gokey, and Miles Adcox, an internationally renowned rehabilitation leader.
San Quentin’s Captain Escalera opened the program with a brief prayer. Gokey, third-place finisher on American Idol several seasons ago, followed with two inspirational songs, the second of which had everyone standing, clapping, and a few even dancing in the aisle.
The singer then delivered a brief inspirational message before handing the microphone to Duck Dynasty star Willie Robertson, who sported his trademark long hair, full beard, and American flag bandana. Robertson is a great storyteller and he shared amusing anecdotes about his experiences as a celebrity.
Robertson has met three presidents, including presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, whom he encountered at an Oklahoma State Fair. Robertson drew a laugh by talking about the crowd at the Oklahoma fair and noting, “That’s my people.”
The Duck Dynasty star also met President Obama at a national correspondents’ dinner, and when the President gave him a bear hug nearby Secret Service agents eyed him closely. He told them, “He’s hugging me. I’m not hugging him.” Robertson’s message was inspirational, but he also evoked a steady stream of laughter with his humorous, Southern-style presentation, and he left the stage to a standing ovation.
Gokey returned to the stage for two more songs before turning the microphone over to Adcox, who related his story with the Southern accent that was characteristic of several of Goff’s entourage. He said that he had been abused as a child, got caught up in an effort to self-medicate, and eventually sought help for addiction and mental health problems.
After achieving his own sobriety, Adcox began to help others work through twelve-step programs. Since his recovery from addiction he has “been turning my mess into my message,” he said. His reputation for helping others recover from addiction grew and he became a regular guest on the Dr. Phil show. At one point, he hosted a talk show on the Fox network.
Adcox was humble about his ability to contribute to others, “I don’t have anything to stand on but my story,” he said. Nevertheless, as blessings accumulated in his life he “realized my dreams were beginning to come true.” Finally, he found his way to his current role on Goff’s team. Adcox finished by noting his favorite proverb that espouses the virtues of twelve-step groups, “Rows inform; circles heal.”
Goff stepped in to wrap up the evening with a word of encouragement to the audience. “You’re our church, too,” he said. Then he asked the three women in his troupe to come to the stage. Korie Robertson, Jody Luke, and Dae Eriksson each promised to keep the audience in prayer and offered hopeful words to San Quentin’s residents. Korie Robertson said, “You’re in our hearts.”
“Bob Goff is a kindhearted and loving person and the people he brings in are cut out of the same cloth,” said San Quentin resident Kenny Rogers, nodding and smiling enthusiastically. He added, “All of them are loving Christians that believe in helping people.”
Gokey returned to the stage to close “Adventures in Faith and Love” with a final song. A line of San Quentin residents formed to seek autographs from the celebrity visitors and to offer their thanks for the visit, bringing a close to an evening of laughter, tears, cheers, and inspiration.