8/06/2012

My First Kiaros

I had the opportunity to be a part of a Kairos Weekend, this past week. I was the table servant for the table of Paul at Pickaway Correctional Institute (PCI) Kairos #1! Learn about Kairos in this post.
It was an amazing experience. I really enjoyed it and was encouraged. Leading up to this weekend, I had been meeting with 40 godly men, for eight weeks, training and preparing for this weekend. At first, this was an odd experience, I did not really know what I was getting into. The first time I went to the training meeting I felt alone. I did not really know anyone very well. As the weeks went by, I had a new family. It was really cool to have fellowship and teachings from these godly men.
In no time, all eight training session had past and it was time for my Kairos weekend! I did not get everything I was suppose to get done accomplished. Each team member was suppose to bake about 100 dozen cookies. With the help of my church, I only contributed about 70 dozen cookies. I was suppose to contribute about $300. I only had about $200 to give. I did contribute some Agape: place mats, posters and prayer chains. I did complete all of my letters to the participants . To learn more about these things check out this post. And check out my Kairos Pin Board.
So as a table servant, I was a for the most part a waiter for the table of Paul. I kept my table clean, full of cookies, beverages and food! I did some other things behind the scene too to keep the weekend going. I was a servant. It was really neat to see the weekend from my perspective. As many of my team member say, the table servant job is the best job. I got to see the participants go from not being used to being served on Friday and hesitant to get involved...to being very involved and friendly on Sunday afternoon. They were hugging us and telling me how I deserved a tip for my hard work. It was nothing really, just service in love.
As part of the weekend, our team distributed cookies to every single staff and resident of Pickaway Correction Institute. I had the opportunity to help distribute cookies to all the residents of one of the dorms. It was really neat but also very interesting. In the dorm I went to, there were five locked bays. In each bay there was about 26 bunk beds or 52 racks. I was allowed into the bay area with the commanding officer and a few porters to help me pass out the cookies. Some of the residents were sleeping, so we woke them up with the cookies. They looked at me with surprise and confusion which quickly turned into curiosity and a smile. Many of the residents quickly said "Thanks" and "God bless you" as I told them "God loves you." That was fun. But I am sure glad I do not live in one of those bays.
I enjoyed the weekend. I did not get much sleep but it was okay. I really am encouraged by what God is doing there at PCI. I am excited about the future. It is would be tough living in those conditions as a new Christian. So my job is not over. We can all pray for them!
I want to do more of this type of ministry. I have a heart for these men. We all make mistakes. We are all sinners. God loves these men too. They need God's love a lot in their environment.

Opportunities to help Kairos

Kairos Prison Ministry is a volunteer, lay-led Christian ministry which conducts a highly-structured program designed for use in male and female medium-to-maximum security correctional institutions. I encourage you to read about what Kairos does and how it is helping in my first post. The recidivism rate was 15.7% among those who had participated in one Kairos session. The recidivism rate amongst the normal prison population varies between 30% – 50+%. Recidivism means the percentage of inmates that return to the prison system once they have been released from their initial term. There are a lot of ways to help Kairos.

1. Volunteer: - join a Kairos team, it will change your life. You get to do the hands-on work of ministry.
2. Bake Cookies- every Kairos weekend, needs thousands of cookies, anywhere from 2000 dozen to 6000 dozen cookies! So you can help by baking up some cookies and the main ingredient is love.
3. Donate "green Agape" or money. It costs money to provide for the food and materials for these weekends.
4. Donate Agape posters, place mats, letters, prayers, pray chain links. Have children draw hand prints, crosses, Scriptures, Bibles, all of these simple and cliche images really touch the lives of the participants. -Write a letter to the participants to encourage them.
5. Pray- we are powered by God's grace, love and the the help of the Holy Spirit. We need God's intervention in our lives and in the participants's lives!
6. Join a cooking team - we need help cooking all of the food!
7. Go to a closing- you will be blessed at a closing service when you hear the participants' stories. Also you will be blessing them by just showing up!
8. Offer volunteers breakfast and dinner during the weekend.
Check out My Kairos Pin Board. Check out the Kairos International and Ohio websites respectively.

What is Kairos?

Kairos Inside Prison Ministry (KI) is a volunteer, lay-led Christian ministry which conducts a highly-structured program designed for use in male and female medium-to-maximum security correctional institutions. The program is structured very similar to an Emmaus Walk, KI is a 3 1/2 day event. For the participants, this is a break from the ordinary prison life and is an opportunity to experience a religious renewal weekend retreat. It is an opportunity for finding and accepting God's call to Christian witness and service to one another. This is designed also to encourage the participants to establish and stay in a strong Christian community even within their lives within the institution. Kairos is not simply a one time spiritual high and then that is it. Kairos comes back every week and offers a "prayer and share" service wit hall of the participants of Kairos. Kairos also continues holding these weekend retreats for new participants every 6 months. Through-out the year, graduates of the weekend hold several reunion fellowship events.
The weekend starts with creating a safe and secure place, where volunteers fellowship and get to know the participants. Volunteers offer cookies and other refreshments. They sit down and talk with the participants. Trying to listen, listen and to love, love. Friday is talk heavy, but the theme is "encountering self." The participants and volunteers become a family...talk about choices and the basic needs of all men.
This leads up to Saturday. Saturday is more activity driven. On Saturday the talks and message is all about the Gospel, "encountering Christ." The participants are flooded with "agape love" through letters, posters, prayer, and fellowship. The main theme of many activities is forgiveness.
Then Sunday the theme is "encountering others." The talks center on application and beginning the process of growing faith and community with other believers.
Through-out the weekend, these participants are also given a lot of home-made cookies and food. They LOVE the food. This is not something they ever get.
This weekend is an amazing event with the potential for true life change. Even within the walls of prison, these men find hope in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The truth of the matter is, God loves these men too! We all make bad choices and are all sinners. These men got caught making some bad choices, they too need to hear the Gospel. Kairos provides many opportunities for this.
Kairos programs have gained the respect of the correctional system, too. In a recent study, the recidivism rate was 15.7% among those who had participated in one Kairos session, and 10% among those who had participated in two or more Kairos sessions. The recidivism rate amongst the normal prison population varies between 30% – 50+%. Recidivism means the percentage of inmates that return to the prison system once they have been released from their initial term. Check out more about Kairos and my experience on my Kairos Pin Board.