By Dennis Foster, The Desert Connection, February 23, 2016
“I was in prison and you visited me.” (Matthew 25:36)
My name is Dennis Foster and I have been blessed to be retired for nearly 10 years now. A few years before retiring I was asked many times to be on a team for Kairos Prison Ministry.
The mission of Kairos Prison Ministry is to share the transforming love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ to impact the hearts and lives of incarcerated men, women, youth, and their families, to become loving and productive citizens of their communities.
Every time I was asked the answer was always the same: “I don’t have the time and I am traveling quite a bit on business.” Well, I did retire and I was asked again, and I could no longer use the excuse of work any longer. I said yes, and the blessings have been tremendous in seeing so many miracles happen behind prison walls.
My first time inside the prison experience was in 2007 at a contract prison in Eloy, Arizona. The prison is run by CCA and is a for-profit prison and listed on the New York Stock Exchange. I found the experience very interesting in that we were actually ministering to Alaskan prisoners.
I always wondered why we were not ministering to Arizonans in the state of Arizona. After becoming a part of the leadership for Kairos of Arizona I quickly found out the reasons and started the work to find a way into Arizona prisons, which some are now run by CCA or GEO, another for profit prison.
Kairos Prison Ministry is one ministry with three programs:
The purpose of the Kairos Inside program is to establish the Kairos Christian community inside prisons by the transforming love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ.
The Kairos Inside program brings positive and negative leaders together, in both male and female institutions, for a 3.5-day weekend based on a series of talks, discussions, chapel meditations, and music led by a same-gender team of volunteers. From this event, a Christian community will start to form.
For many participants, the Kairos weekend creates the desire to become a Christian, and for others the desire to continue spiritual growth.
After the Kairos weekend, Prayer and Share accountability groups are held weekly, and Reunions are held monthly.
The ultimate goal of Kairos Inside is to build a Christian community to pray and fellowship within the institution together on a weekly basis by nurturing each other in their faith walk and providing accountability. This is the heart of Kairos!
Kairos Outside is a 2.5-day Christian Weekend designed to demonstrate God’s grace and love through Christian support for women impacted by incarceration.
In a safe environment with loving people, women interact with other women who are in similar situations and learn to form small support groups to give them strength in their life journey.
After the weekend, the women journey together through SWAP (Share, Witness, Account, and Pray) and Reunion meetings, where they support and encourage each other as they deal with the impact of incarceration on themselves and their families.
Kairos Torch is a positive, interactive, and thought-provoking program for young offenders 25 and under.
By developing reasoning, holistic life skills, and engaging in the Torch mentoring program, participants are better able to seek balance in their lives.
The Kairos Torch experience is an opportunity to use this window of time to introduce the possibility of a spiritual journey with God through His message of unconditional love and acceptance.
One-to-one mentoring is the most important aspect of this program. In Kairos Torch, mentors establish a healthy and personal relationship with their mentees.
Consistency with all three programs is important. They are presented the same no matter where you are. The main component is the ability to listen and to love each person as Jesus did.
This mission takes many volunteers, especially in the areas where there are prisons. It also takes many prayers and perseverance by many to get into prisons where these volunteers can make a difference in the lives of the incarcerated.
There are many volunteer opportunities available. We invite you to get involved!