1) “They just come for the cookies.” Many times, yes, it’s true. Chocolate chip cookies and great food are a huge draw for prisoners who rarely get that kind of treat!
But if that gets them to the Weekend, then we have a chance to change their lives through Christ. Who knew cookies were so powerful?
2) “You’re just there to convert people.” Yes, prisoners are often lost in darkness, and we show them the light of Christ’s love and forgiveness – then ask them to forgive others, and most importantly, themselves. They have a new friend and new hope in Jesus Christ, if they choose to allow Him in.
We accept that for some prisoners, this may be just the start of a journey, and for other prisoners, the message may not take hold.
The ultimate goal of Kairos Inside is to build a Christian community inside the prison to pray and fellowship together on a weekly basis by nurturing each other in their faith walk and providing accountability. This is the heart of Kairos!
3) “Only the worst prisoners get to do Kairos.” With the prison Chaplain’s help, we do try to have the negative leaders of the prison participate. The heads of gangs. The ones other prisoners are afraid of. The ones creating trouble on the yard.
Why? Imagine the change that can take place in a prison when the worst leaders suddenly become changed, Christ-centered people! Their influence can spread throughout the prison and reduce the incidence of violence in the prison culture. We have seen this happen time and time again.
In 1996 I was assigned to be the Warden at the Marion Correctional Institution. It was a dark place, and Kairos brought the light of love and hope. Over the next ten years the miracles mounted, peace replaced violence, hope replaced despair, broken relationships were restored and incarcerated men lived their faith unapologetically. The culture of the prison changed dramatically.
— Christine M. Money, Former Warden, Marion Correctional Institution, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction