Applause, hoots and shouts of "Jose!" came from the sea of denim work shirts as 19-year-old Jose Andrade took the podium at the Maryland Correctional Training Center chapel Thursday night.
Andrade, who is serving a five-year sentence for an accessory to murder conviction, was among 15 inmates who received a "Certificate in Biblical Studies" through a Covenant Theological Seminary program taught, in part, by fellow inmates who had earned their Master of Divinity degrees within prison walls.
Each inmate chose one of 24 verses they had committed to memory during the course to recite and discuss. Andrade quoted Paul in the book of Romans: "I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes."
"When I first started, I was ashamed to bring the Word to someone else 'cause I didn't really know what I was talking about," Andrade said.