Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Thoughts on a Kairos Weekend

This past weekend (April 15-18), I was part of the team for Kairos #29 at the Coffield Unit in Texas. I know many of you were praying for the participants and the team - Thank You!

Kairos is a wonderful prison ministry, but what makes it so effective? We don't have huge revivals or large tent meetings. We don't have Altar Calls or pressure the men to make a commitment to Jesus Christ.

I think there are four major features of the Kairos weekend that make it so effective:
  1. We listen to the inmates. This is the most critical feature of Kairos. We do not preach. We teach very little. But we listen to and respect the inmates. This is something new to them.
  2. The team members make themselves vulnerable to the participants and other team members. We do not hide the fact that we are still sinners. We confess ours sins in our talks and meditations as appropriate. We also allow ourselves to be "foolish" during songs. When I serve, I try to do all the "dance" moves to songs such as "Jesus is the Rock" or "Pharoh, Pharoh." There is a time to be serious and a time to be foolish. The important thing is to know the difference.
  3. We come from many different denominations. This is also critical. We may have our differences and we are upfront with the inmates that we have differences. But we are united by the Lordship of Jesus Christ and a common call to serve in His Name. We NEVER proclaim one denomination or group as better or worse than another. One inmate I counselled with said that he was upset and confused by all the divisions and denomination in the Church, but that he had finally seen "The Church" in action on the Kairos Weekend. Our willingness to put aside differences to focus on Jesus Christ is an important part of the witness of Kairos to the inmates. They often see denominations as rival gangs. Our unity suprises and amazes them.
  4. We come back. We don't just present Jesus and then take him to the next unit. We come back to visit Jesus. Jesus lives in our prison system and in Texas, he wears the white uniform of an inmate.

All of these things are critical to the success of Kairos because of one thing and one thing only - God's agape love. We model that love to the "brothers-in-white" and we show evidence of that love both within the team members and among the inmates.

This weekend we had a committed Wiccan man tell us that this is the first love he had seen in a very long time and, while he did not accept Jesus, he committed to coming back for the followup weekends. We had a white supremist embrace Jesus Christ and the men of other color at his table family. I had a Jehovah Witness question me about the Trinity.

The greatest thing about Kairos is that it "works" in spite of the team members! We make countless mistakes, but God is faithful to the work and the Holy Spirit is present.

Please pray for the continuing ministry of Kairos and for the new 42 brothers in white that just completed this past weekend. Pray that God will continue to work through Kairos and in the lives of the team, the inmates, and the unit staff.


Phil Snyder