Kairos Ohio Testimonials
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It will have been nine years this coming fall since I first walked inside a prison. At the time, I was excited and expectant. I knew that God was calling me there, so my excitement about the great unknown that lay ahead of me was a positive excitement. I trusted God enough to know that He would never lead me down a wrong path, because He loved me. So while I knew that God never promises us that there won’t be any bumps in the road, I knew it was the right road, and that He was walking next to me on it, and I was full of wonder and anticipation about what lay in store for me.
After that first Kairos experience at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in the fall of 1995, I thought long and hard about what I had found in that place that God had led me. Beyond the singing, the fellowship, the cookies, what had I found? The answer that I came up with, over and over again, and which is still valid today, nine years later, is this: I found myself.
At the time, I thought I knew what this answer meant. The bottom line was that we were all women: daughters in every case, and perhaps also wives and mothers and sometimes grandmothers. If many other things about our lives were different, we shared a commonality. At the very core of things, we are all God’s children.
Over the past nine years I have become more and more involved in Kairos, and more and more involved in prisons and with those who are incarcerated. Now God has begun to open non-Kairos doors for me. Since last January, I have been teaching Spanish at Marion Correctional Institution as a volunteer. MCI is a men’s institution, and it was not as easy to find myself in those who reside there as it was at ORW. And yet the pull is ever stronger, the blessing ever greater. I am connected to those men as well, in a very profound way, but in a way that I would have had difficulty putting into words until last night.
I am currently reading a book by Lennie Spitale, himself an ex-offender and now ministering in prison, called Prison Ministry: Understanding Prison Culture Inside and Out. Mr. Spitale says, “In this land behind the gray cement walls, everyone is reduced to the same playing field. This truth is a greater testimony to the way things really are than the outside world reveals.” (p. 147) He then quotes Galatians 3:22, “But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.” He goes on to say that if we are believers, we are all ex-convicts.
I was beginning to see more clearly the deep connection I feel with those who are in prison. Mr. Spitale continues, “It’s not about our being better or different from those in prison. Sin is the common denominator. Before Christ came, we were all wearing the same prison clothing, and we were all under the same sentence of death. In the spiritual reality we were all poor; each of us, spiritually bankrupt.” (p. 147) He goes on to say that hidden in many comments he has heard from believers is the idea that somehow prisoners are worse people than they are. “They assume that because they themselves are not in prison, or were ever guilty of committing the same sorts of crimes they are somehow above those who had been convicted of crimes. […] It has become difficult for them to realize that, as far as the sinful nature goes, they are just as naked and poor as the convicted drug dealer on J-tier.” (p. 147)
This spoke so clearly to me! The deep connection I feel, the ability to not care about the crime committed, the love for each one that God has put into my heart. We are the same, and I do indeed find myself every time I go into prison. And after nine years, whether I am part of a Kairos renewal weekend, teaching Spanish, helping out with Yard Day or on Mom and Kids’ Day, or doing an intercessory prayer session with the women at ORW, the message remains the same: God has sent me into this place to tell you that He is real; He loves you more than you can imagine; He forgives you; your real freedom comes through accepting His Son into your life.
At the end of his chapter, Mr. Spitale reminds us that “our ministry grants us the blessing of recognizing that everyone is wearing prison garb -- and that grace knows no bounds.” (p. 150) Amen!
©Lauren Wiebe, June 30, 2004
What a blessing to being able to serve and to love on the guys while witnessing God's unconditional love and grace. I love having a front row seat to watch God changing lives for His glory each weekend - I always come away blessed. We truly serve an almighty and Awesome God.
I never expected to go into a prison - it was always something that scared me. However, God got hold of my heart and now uses me as a vessel to share the Love of Christ with the men inside.
God is Good! All the Time! Praise God!
I have really felt the presence of the Holy Spirit within the prison walls and have learned that God's grace really is unconditional - that he deeply loves these men inside the prison.
My most memorable moment is when I witnessed two rival gang members hug each other at the end of one Kairos weekend.
Through Kairos, I have seen the face of God. In doing so, He allows me to see the gospel in action as lives are changed forever.
I have been blessed to serve with a great group of men on the team and see the impact it has on the resident's in the prison and build the relationships and friendships that will last a lifetime.
Kairos has help me grow my faith and build great relationships with the men I meet in the inside and the men I serve with on the outside of the walls as well and have helped and supported each other in the highs and lows in our lives.
I think the biggest memory is seeing how God and is men in the team see the impact of the love of God and is men show the resident's inside the walls of the prison. Seeing the resident's change through out the weekend and knowing that we planted the seed to help them grow as Christian men and continue to support and guide each other.
Kairos is the most effective way I know of to bring the good news to the least thought of - God loves prisoners too! Through Kairos, God continues to show me how much He loves the least of us Christians.
12 yrs ago I was a table assistant, next to me was a silent young man. God asked me to be the best friend I could be to this man. I have grown to love this person. I have been humbled by my these successful journeys to Christian maturity even in prison. I can not wait to see how God uses these men on the other side of the wire.
Kairos is the best drug going, I'm actually addicted to the joy and fulfillment I get out of the weekend and especially prayer and share. It's helped me get through some very rough times that would have been much worse without my Kairos brothers.
I do it because Jesus asked us to and as a reminder to myself that everyone needs acceptance, understanding and love. Thanks to God's work through Kairos, I am better prepared to forgive and accept love.
For me, Kairos inside the walls of a maximum security prison has allowed me to see the true church exactly as Christ envisioned it - raw, supportive and non-judgmental. It is helped me grow deeper in my relationship with Christ. God has used these incarcerated men to forever alter my life. Watching the amazing work He is doing in such a dark place is beautiful.