Kairos is a non-profit Christian organization that brings the Good News of Jesus Christ into prisons. They are Christian Action at its finest, fulfilling the necessity of faith-works. For those unfamiliar with the saying “Faith without works is dead”, it simply means that one cannot believe in God and accept the label of “Christian” without doing as Christ commanded—administer to the poor, sick and imprisoned. Love one another. The Kairos choose not only to bring us the love of God, but their time energy and belief in our value as human beings. It is how they live and after meeting them and hearing their lectures I was/am in awe.
The first day I didn’t know what to expect. As a confirmed Catholic I have a specific set of ideas about God the Father, His Son and the Holy Spirit. I am very much my mother’s son in devotion to the teachings of Jesus in action, even though I fall way short of that standard much of the time. I try my best and ask God to help me along the path.
My mother was mine and my siblings CCD (Confraternity of Christian Doctrine) teacher for several years until we became adolescents and she grew away from the church. It may not have seemed like I paid attention as a kid, especially considering the way I acted in my teen years, but her lessons have helped me return to Christianity as a more humble and contrite adult. So I had a small advantage on the first day of Short Journey because the other guys at my table were not avowed Christians. One was a Muslim, another what the Muslims call an “apostle” (that’s a long story I’m not getting into), two had no specific religious beliefs and then there was me.
There were four separate tables with five death row prisoners at each and three Kairos volunteers. Each table was designated Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. I saw at the table of Mark with some interesting people, but at first nobody (prisoners) really knew what to say. One of the volunteers started with some small talk, and it was on. Then came the call for breakfast.
It may help to know that outside of Christian ministry in prison the Kairos are known for their freshly baked cookies. Each death row prisoner receives a dozen cookies the two times a year the Kairos come to Central Prison and minister to the general population. It is a gift of love without any strings and even as I write this I fear some hateful person reading this and worrying we’re receiving special treatment. No need to worry about that. They bake cookies for the entire prison, which means even the guys in solitary or butt-naked in mental health. A lot of cookies (for staff also) and a lot of love without condition or status.
Anyway, to preserve the sincerity of this three day retreat, for 8 hours each day we sat at these tables on Pod 4 and were not allowed to leave unless it was an emergency—even my lawyer was kindly asked to reschedule his visit. So rather than go to the chow hall (thank God for that favor) the Kairos brought breakfast, snacks, lunch and more snacks. The food was crazy awesome and the best I’ve eaten in 18 years in prison. I could write a poem about the meatloaf. . . . .
Well sated, seated at our tables, we listened to each volunteer give a talk about Jesus Christ in his life and a specific portion of a three day lecture on recognizing the need to change or the need for God in our life, encountering Christ and understanding what His presence in our life means, and determining what we need to do to overcome the obstacles in accepting God’s grace. It would be difficult to summarize a single day of lectures without creating some really long blog posts. I did, however, take notes for a reason and will certainly try my hand at writing how the volunteers of the Kairos were able to show me a happiness I didn’t know was missing. This post is simply to express my thanks to Sandy, Karl, Roy and the other volunteers for bringing the Good News and Christian Action to death row. I hope and pray I do their lectures and lessons justice in future posts.
To be continued in Kairos Short Journey: part two.