Kairos Prison Ministry 2012 Annual Report
A quick statistic about KAIROS. In the general prison population if 5 inmates are paroled from prison, 4 go back. For people who attend KARIOS and stay active in the weekly small groups, only 1 goes back. KAIROS makes a difference. Cursillo can make the same difference in your spiritual life, they are two sides of the same coin. There, but for the Grace of God, go I!
The KAIROS weekend is essentially the Cursillo program translated into the prison environment. A weekend runs from Thursday thru Sunday. Four Saturday Team meetings are held prior to each weekend. Doing Cursillo before one works a KAIROS weekend is recommended but not required. Margaret Carpenter, Peggy Ryder, Mary Nell Frucella, Mary Lou Henshaw, Dan Henshaw, and Steve Ryder are currently active. We work both the Hughes men's unit and the Lane Murray women's unit in Gatesville, Texas. There are two weekends a year at each unit for a total of four opportunities to serve on a weekend. In addition we all go to weekly group meetings with the inmates, some of us almost every week, others less frequently. We often car pool with other KAIROS volunteers from Catholic, Methodist, Baptist, Menonite and other churches.
We all feel safe in the prison environment, our only danger is losing our heart to the Sisters or Brothers in White we meet on the weekends.
About St. Matt's Kairos Ministry
Kairos Prison Ministry is a vibrant, active part of outreach at St. Matthews. About a dozen members of St. Matthews participate in programs at the Hughes Unit for Men and the Lane Murray Unit for Women (both in Gatesville). Many others at St. Matthew’s participate in Kairos by baking cookies, praying, and helping with the finances for the weekends.
Our involvement with these inmates is an ongoing process that begins with a 4 day intensive weekend program, but doesn't stop there. Before we enter the prison unit, a team member takes a safety training course from the State Prison System and participates in Saturday team training sessions in the hometown of the weekend leader. Team members make a commitment to attend “reunions” one Saturday each month for one year. In addition, some members make the trip to Gatesville, approximately 100 miles, one night each week for Prayer and Share. We also attend a two day "short" program weekend twice a year.
In the beginning, "offenders", known to us as "Brothers or Sisters in White" are skeptical that we will actually return as it is very hard for them to trust anyone. As we continue to show up, they learn to trust us and believe us when we tell them that "God loves you and we do too!" The main purpose of Kairos is to encourage and assist the Brothers or Sisters in White in building their own communities behind the walls of prison. We are not their "church" and encourage them to attend any and all religious services offered at their unit.
The Kairos program was founded in Florida by a group of Episcopalians who wanted to take the Cursillo experience into prisons. Kairos is now in 37 states and 7 countries, one of the more recent being Honduras. It is an amazing program that brings love, hope and encourages inmates to make life changes. Those of us who go into the units have all experienced that same, love, hope and life changes!
Ways you can help other than going into the prisons!
- PRAYER - Karios Teams. There are seven meetings and an overnight retreat necessary to adequately strengthen the Christian Community before going into the prison. Please, pray daily for the Kairos team members, both during our preparations and during the actual Kairos weekends. The Christian inmate community will be in great need of focused prayer during the weekend. Also, please sign the "prayer chain" indicating times you will be praying. This is hung in the unit to let the Brothers or Sisters in White know how many folks are praying for THEIR KAIROS Weekend!
- LETTERS - Many of the 42 who are chosen to attend the Kairos "Short Course in Christianity" have never received a letter. A brief note is all that is necessary. Groups of 42 are great, but we can combine smaller batches. Have a letter writing party, have your church Sunday school classes write, and then put them in groups of 42. Address the letter to "Dear Brother/Sister in White". The children's letters especially touch their hearts. Be sure these are signed ONLY with first name and age of child. For example: Johnny age 6.
- CLOSING - For those of you who have attended a Walk to Emmaus or a Cursillo Weekend, plan to attend an upcoming Kairos weekend closing service at a nearby unit. It means a lot to the men and women (Brothers and Sisters in White) to see free-world Christian communities. Request a "closing service application" from a team member (sorry on-line applications are currently not available) at least four weeks prior to the service you plan to attend. All attendees must have been cleared for security purposes by the warden's office.
- COOKIES - 4,000 dozen cookies prayed over while making and by the team in preparing for distribution spreads God's love to many persons who really need it. During the weekend every inmate in the prison who wishes, receives a bag of cookies.
- MONEY - $15,000 is needed for each Kairos to pay for food and supplies. A few dollars from Sunday School classes or Reunion Groups add up quickly. A donation of $150 will sponsor one Brother/Sister in White. "Meal Tickets" are $5 each and pay for one meal for one Brother or Sister in White.
- AGAPE/PALANCA FROM CHILDREN - Have Sunday School children make place mats for the meals that are prepared and brought into the unit. This special agape wins hearts for the Lord.
Are you interested? Through Kairos Texas, Christian men and women serve the Lord at 33 units of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. See Texas map for TDCJ units and the 28 other KAIROS program in prisons or jails other than TDCJ. A few of the St. Matthew's members who are currently active in Kairos include Margaret Carpenter, Dan Henshaw, and Steve Ryder. Corner any one of them Sunday morning to learn more about how you might participate. The #1 need is prayer!