Off to prison (ministry) follow up

kairosjesusbehindbars.jpgI blogged previously on the Kairos Prison Ministry weekend program that I participated in.  We also do follow up visits once per month and I enjoy those even more. 

We visit with the inmates for a couple hours.  There is some singing (it is a good chance for me to play my guitar), small group sharing and various testimonials.

I won’t romanticize this endeavor because it is still a bunch of imperfect people trying to live out their faith the best they can.  But I see and experience a lof of things that churches outside the prison could emulate.

On average, the inmates we visit with are heavily in the Bible, praying, practicing forgiveness, not retaliating the way they used to, supporting each other and more.  I am not exaggerating to say that on average these guys know the Bible better than the people in my church.

I witness many dramatically changed lives.  They truly love Jesus and are passionate about sharing the Gospel.  They are working hard to prepare themselves for release so they can stay out this time.  As mentioned on the previous post, this program dramatically reduces the recidivism rate.

The thing I like best is encouraging them.  One gentleman who is over 50 got his GED and seemed very pleased that someone acknowledged how challenging and scary that must have been, was proud of him and rejoiced with him in his accomplishment.  Even little things like telling them you missed them or that you prayed for them or their families seem to make a big impact. 

Prison ministry isn’t for everyone, but if you have any questions then please leave them in the comments section or check out the previous post.

8 thoughts on “Off to prison (ministry) follow up”

  1. Good on you, Neil, for this commitment. A good friend of mine in Texas — a fellow former chicken-fried Southern Baptist turned liberalish! — is involved in Kairos, and it’s changed his life.

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  2. Thanks, ER. It has been a joy. One of my friends started doing it a few years back and gently encouraged me to try it. I realize it isn’t for everyone, but I like to say that when in doubt, people should try different ministries to see what is right for them. Kairos has exceeded my expectations.

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  3. Neil, great work with the prison ministry. My wife’s grandfather (we call him “Paw-Paw”) has been doing prison ministry in the Houston and Sugarland area (the stomping ground of my wife’s family) and was just so excited and refreshed from it when he visited us back in May. He has an aching back and trouble “gettin’ about” as he puts it, but I know he wouldn’t miss the opportunity for the world. Just hearing him talk about some of the men he prayed with was wholly uplifting! It’s something I would definitely be interested in checking out myself when our schedules don’t have us so consumed (or even, maybe, while they still do!).

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  4. Hi Neil,

    My husband was involved in jail ministry back when we were still in KS. You’re right — it isn’t for everyone, but he did enjoy it and is gifted in this area. As he continues to recover from his accident, I can see him taking this up again in the future.

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  5. Hi Neil,
    I found your post through googlealert…I recently asked for alerts referencing Kairos. I have enjoyed reading your postings. I have been active with Kairos over the past 8 years…it has been an on-again, off-again thing here in Illinois to get the IDOC to allow our activities. I thought I would share with you my feelings that I recorded after we held Kairos #1 in Stateville Prison in Joliet, IL….held in April 2006

    This past weekend our team of 27 guys entered Stateville Correctional Center and ministered to 42 inmates. We were with the same men from Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon. In our group of inmates we had represented Christians, unbelievers, Muslims, Nation of Islam, Hebrew Israelites…quite a mix. Our intent was to plant the seed for a Christian faith community in Stateville. We presented a “short course” in Christianity.
    Part of what we taught them was the need for forming Prayer and Share Groups, ie: small groups for accountability sharing. The weekend was a progression to bring them to the point of understanding how to participate…this meant helping them take down the “walls” they had built in themselves. “Walls” created to protect against attack and “walls” built to insulate against internal pain of regret, guilt, emptiness, and loneliness.
    We mentored them by example on how to love and respect one another. Many thanks to those who contributed to our activities. The letters you wrote, the paper hands you gave, the posters, your prayers, the finances…you were there with them and we made that very clear to the men. Quite honestly, they were bowled over by your expressions of Christian love. All 42 men had a profound experience as we witnessed their words and commitment to creating community in Stateville. Next Saturday, I will return to Stateville with our team to give further instruction and practice in “small grouping”. After this we will be on a regular visit schedule of the 1st Saturday of every month to re-union with these guys…to support them as they build their Christian community and claim ownership for Christ on more of the lost souls in Stateville.
    To allow us to conduct our program, was a major leap of faith for the administration of Illinois Department of Corrections. If all continues in a positive transforming sense in the lives of those effected by what was begun this past weekend…we will be invited back in October to conduct another weekend…for a different group of 42 inmates…thus growing and strengthening what has been begun.

    I took off work today…time to process my feelings. The past 3 ½ days were spent in Stateville Correctional Center in Joliet.
    It is hard to explain all that I saw, heard and felt…everything swirls together in an overall mixture of awe. Awe at what evil can accomplish in seizing a life…turning a human being into something hated and despised and perpetrator and dispenser of so much pain. Awe at what God’s love can accomplish; to lead the depraved back from the foul depth, to the light of becoming a human being again. To witness the words of John 1…”the light has come into the world”. To be devoid of a personal agenda within me and to be used by God to accomplish his purpose for the men I ministered to.
    I’ve been asking myself…why do I do this. I definitely don’t feel a personal pull…something I want to prove. I just get a peace that this is what I am to be doing. I can only trust that it is God who has drawn me into this and that it is God who wants these men to know of Him. I can come to no other conclusion.
    My heart aches for those who have been victimized…because I too have been a victim. My heart aches for the family members of the perpetrators…because I too am one of them. My heart saddens when I interact with broken lives… And I am sad for the die that has been cast for the earthly existence of the men I minister to at Stateville….but yet over-riding all of this is the hope and the glory of what God does…and it is to Him that I place my hope and faith. It is for me to do “the next right thing”…and that is to be obedient to Him.
    I recall the phrase…”free on the inside”…so profound after a weekend like I just spent. Who is the holder and grantor of the only true freedom that any of us should thirst for?…the “Peace that passes all understanding”…it is God and God alone. I saw re-birth into freedom this weekend. I can only conclude that this was God’s intent because the freedom I witnessed only comes from God. I am overwhelmed in awe of His Light that manifested and shined from budding souls stepping out of darkness into a new day…the first day of the rest of their lives.
    I experienced a “foretaste of the feast to come”. I am on my knees in worship of my God.

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