Kairos Prison Ministry
Kairos prison ministry is a remarkable opportunity to become part of a team of Christians, all gathered to fellowship, pray, follow, and share the simple message of the love of Jesus to the incarcerated. As a part of that process, we learn to simply be the tools through which the Holy Spirit will do His work. Our mandate is to listen and love. While the focus of this ministry is on the incarcerated, we must personally apply the spirit of Matthew 7:4-5, which reminds us that we must “take the log from our own eye” in order to see clearly to remove the speck from a brother’s eye.
Inmates participate in a four-day, structured weekend with the team. Kairos weekends occur twice a year, and an inmate may attend only one time. Weekend events are designed to show the participants that many people are reaching out to them in love. Agape love is presented in the form of cookies, prayer chains, placemats decorated with personal childrens’ drawings, meal tickets from non-team members, catered (non-prison) meals and snacks, posters and messages from other Kairos teams around the world. The inmates do not really know what to expect and many sign up simply because they have heard about the meals provided over the weekend. But, the structure and teaching over the weekend is powerful. One of the most wonderful and humbling aspects of the ministry is to see the reactions of men, often hardened to survive the prison experience, as they begin to absorb the depth of love from the teaching and agape.
The intent of the four-day weekend is to encourage the inmate participants to accept Christ on His terms, and then to create their own support groups for regular study and prayer within the prison walls. Three times a month, various team members reenter the prison to fellowship for two hours with Kairos alumni who have completed a weekend. Our monthly reentry into the prison allows us to come alongside and encourage the men as they form their prayer and share groups. While we do not seek to know the purpose for their incarceration, often prisoners share their life experiences, and the significant positive impact the Holy Spirit has made on them through the Kairos weekend.
Going into the prison means that Kairos team members must come under the direct authority of the warden and prison staff. This ministry cannot function without their full support. The fact that the prison remains open and encouraging to Kairos team members is a powerful reminder of the effect this ministry is having within the prison walls. Kairos is not the only ministry that enters prisons. All Christians entering for ministry purposes are doing so at the leading of the Holy Spirit and are important in doing God’s work to touch lives in need of the love of Jesus Christ. – John Nichols