My nephew Roy is in Marion Correction Institute in Ohio for murder. He never broke a law until he was twenty-three years old and murdered his best friend. The police investigated and he confessed before it went to trial. He was sentenced to 18 years to life. He’s now 37 years old and has been in prison for 13 years.
Roy went to church when he was younger and knew about God, but he never made a commitment to serve him. For the first three years at prison, Roy stayed in his cell and watched television. Finally he started routine prison life but was depressed. He figured he was doing good for being in prison. How could you not be miserable? Then five years ago, he attended a Kairos week-end for prisoners.
Roy surrendered his life to God that week-end. Now he’s happy. He says he had to go to prison to be set free. He regrets his crime and believes God wants him to be in prison, but he’s content. Roy meets with the Kairos group of prisoners once a week, goes to chapel once a week, and attends an intercessory prayer meeting every evening. That intercessory prayer group made up of prisoners prays for ministries all over the world.
Roy is not the only prisonor to be changed after a Kairos week-end. Roy is in a cell block reserved for prisonors who never get in trouble. Many of the prisonors in his cell block are Christians who were converted at a Kairos week-end.
Marion Correctional Institute has changed because of Kairos, and became the first prison to have Promise Keepers come into the facility and televise a crusade.
Here’s a testimony from the Kairos brochure.
Kairos at Marion Correctional Institute: (excerpt from their brochure)
In 1996, the state’s Marion Correctional Institution was a dark, dangerous, foreboding, and unGodly place. Although it is a medium-security prison, it was a place everyone – prisoner and professional alike – tried to avoid. The Arian Brotherhood, The Bloods, the Crips and a host of other gangs ran the inmate population. More prisoners filed lawsuits against the state than at any other institution. Labor-management relations were at an all-time low, with multiple grievances being filed nearly every day.
In response, Reginald Wilkinson, then Ohio Director of Rehabilitation and Correction, asked Christine Money, the Warden of the Ohio Reformatory for Woman in Marysville, to transfer to Marion.
Mrs. Money thought about, and prayed about, the opportunity. Based on her faith, and her 3-year experience with Kairos at Marysville, she finally agreed to the transfer, but only if she could take Kairos with her.
The first ministry weekend was held in the Spring of 1997. Forty-two care-fully selected residents were chosen to participate. They were ministered to by a team of 55 Christians from a variety of churches in Ohio. The weekend went well, and the graduates formed the bulwark of a new Christian movement inside the walls of M.C.I.. Other practicing Christian inmates were encouraged in their faith walks, and additional weekends were scheduled.
Today, more than 800 men have completed a Kairos weekend at M.C.I.. Many of them have been released or transferred, but a core group remains and they are visible in everything that goes on in the prison. A large group of men spend hours preparing posters and letters of support for Christian Renewal programs held across the country and in some foreign lands. An intercessory prayer team prays for the needs of a wide variety of men and women every-where. Protestant and Catholic chapel services are bulging at the seams, small Prayer and Share groups have taken the place of gangs, and Kairos volunteers return frequently for special programs and monthly Reunions.
The Marion Choir, their special Christmas and Easter pageants, and the Silent Choir (signing in unison) are popular programs enjoyed by insiders and outsiders alike. The Promise Keepers program was invited to visit Marion; and, after a thorough investigation, responded by holding their first-ever rally inside prison walls. The program was televised nationally.
Kairos Outside, a 3-day program specifically-designed for the wives, mothers and daughters of prisoners who are active in Kairos, began in 1999. The program actually moved into the Prison Chapel in 2001, becoming the first-ever Kairos Outside Inside. Kairos Torch, a program designed for inmates age 16 to 22, where young men are paired with older inmates who serve as mentors, was added in 2000.
Warden Money was moved in 2005 to the troubled Department of Youth Services, and Mrs. Margaret Beightler, another solid Christian who is dedica-ted to Kairos, took her place.
Marion Correctional Institution re-mains a prison today, to be sure; and bad guys are arriving every day. But it is no longer a dark, frightening and foreboding place. Most inmates are grateful, safe, mutually-supportive and as happy as they can be. The staff is relieved, and no longer must resort to grievances to express their frustration, and Christ-ianity actually flows out the doors of M.C.I. and into the world of which Marion is a part.
But Marion isn’t the only place where Kairos is ministering.
Kairos of Ohio Prison Ministries (exerpt from their brochere)
There are 8 Ohio institutions at which the Kairos 3-day “short course in Christianity” is provided twice per year. The Kairos Prison Ministry has been active in the following prisons since the indicated startup dates:
Lebanon Correctional Institution-1991
Ohio Reformatory for Women (Marysville) – 1994
Marion Correctional Institution – 1997
Ross Correctional (Chillicothe) – 2000
Trumbull Correctional (near Warren) -2002
Toledo Correctional – 2003
Richland Correctional (Mansfield) – 2004
Southern Ohio Correctional (Lucasville) -2004
The purpose of the Kairos ministry is to help grow and nurture strong Christian communities within adult correctional institutions.
Through a systematic structured program, God helps Kairos volunteers provide residents the opportunity to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and/or to renew that relationship—–starting with the 3-day Kairos “short course in Christianity.” During the weekend and subsequent follow-up spiritual growth activities facilitated by Kairos volunteers and prison chaplains, residents are challenged to accept God’s call to a life of Christian witness and service to one another and to staff during their stay in the institution and beyond.
As the mission of Kairos is accomplished in an institution, there is a positive impact on the total environment of the institution.
To out more about the Kairos of Ohio Prison Ministries, click here.
Kairos Prison Ministry isn’t only in Ohio. For more information, click here.
To become a penpal to a prisonor, click here.
God is moving in our prisons.