How Kairos Can Inspire Hope Through Kairos Outside

By   February 25, 2021

Vanessa Olivares didn’t have the easiest upbringing, but has persevered through many trials most of us can’t imagine, and since reconnecting with Christ, has a new outlook on life.

She grew up in Massachusetts where her parents were in and out of prison. Eventually Vanessa and her siblings were taken away from their parents, split up, and raised in the foster care system. She later moved in with an Aunt, but the bad habits of her parents and the foster system followed her. She eventually got out of an abusive relationship by moving to Central Florida to find her family.

By age 20, she had a son, was doing drugs, spending all her money, stealing from her reconnected family, became a victim of human trafficking, and eventually went to prison herself. Unfortunately the facility she went to didn’t have Kairos, it did have Bible study which she participated in, but didn’t feel that full connection to Christ. However, she was able to rededicate her life to God and be baptized. While incarcerated, Vanessa decided to put in the effort to make the life and spiritual changes she had so often promised herself and others.

Upon her release in 2007, she requested a Christian based transition home, in hopes of truly finding a sustained connection with God, as she had on and off since her youth. The Christian transition home was able to give her the guidance and direction to live her life as a Christian in actions as well as words. While attending church, she joined a group called Hope for the Healing Woman. It was through this group that she was first introduced to Kairos. Kairos Inside was not in the facility she was incarcerated in, but she was able to attend a Kairos Outside Weekend as a Guest along with her sister. It was a life altering event for Vanessa, as it gave her a sense of purpose and a group of women who could fully understand her feelings, lover her for who she is, and to help take the hurt away.

Vanessa and her sister were so moved by the Kairos experience that they not only served as Kairos Volunteers the next Kairos Outside Weekend, but that they had their mother attend as a Guest as well.

With this renewed closeness to God and a direction for her life, Vanessa is now leading the Hope for the Healing Women church group, volunteering with Kairos Outside, and looking to share her experiences with inmates via Kairos Inside.

“Getting involved with Kairos has changed my life, knowing the concept of sisterhood and working together, showing God’s love to the broken, and the agape love that I received on that Weekend was overflowing, spoke to my heart, I had to be a part of it. If the ladies feel that much agape love, I can’t imagine how much God’s love must be.”

Upon her release, she got a job at a cleaning company and parlayed that experience to now owning her own cleaning business with her husband, doing commercial and residential cleaning for the past 8 years all across Central Florida, including the Kairos International headquarters. She credits her success at business to doing all jobs with love, no matter the pay or situation.

Her ultimate goal is to create a sanctuary for women coming out of incarceration, to help God heal their wounds and welcome them to the family of Christ.

When she goes through hard times, Vanessa takes comfort in the words of 1 Peter 5:10, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you.” She is encouraged that with any suffering, God is granting her the strength to overcome that challenge and become a better person overall.

Vanessa was courageous enough to share her story with the entire Kairos Family during the Kairos Virtual Annual Conference during the General Session. Her testimony is available to view here.

4 Comments on “How Kairos Can Inspire Hope Through Kairos Outside

  1. Kent Johnson

    My sister in law in Virginia has been volunteering with Kairos for several years now, baking tons of cookies and visiting and sending notes to inmates at Wallens Ridge State Prison, through Kairos. One of the people she’s connected with has said that another inmate there would also like a penpal. That fellow has been attending bible study in the prison and is interested in spiritual things. I’d like to get to know his needs and prayer requests, and share with him some of my Bible study materials on the book of Isaiah, via mail, through Kairos. (I have his address at Wallens Ridge, but would prefer to run communications through Kairos). I’m located in Texas.

    Blessings!

  2. Shari Summers

    Although I have never physically been in prison, I can relate to Vanessa’s struggle because I have served time alongside my husband for the last 12 years. Like Vanessa, My husband attended Kairos Inside and encouraged me to attend a KO Weekend, which I did with my daughter. We are both now Kairos volunteers and grateful fo the opportunity to share God’s abiding love with others who “serve time” on the outside along with their loved ones.

  3. Sheila

    i was blessed by reading Vanessa’s story and thank her for sharing. My life journey has led me to want to provide a place for women to heal, connect with Christ and mend familial hurt. I will continue to pray and see what God has in store.

  4. Jamie Sell

    Father,
    Thank you for how you touched Vanessa and so many others through your Gospel and Holy Spirit. May you receive all glory honor and praise now and forever. Amen

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