Kairos of Texas is a unique ministry that sends teams into 46 men’s and women’s state prisons twice a year to spend the weekend teaching the Gospel and encouraging Christian conversions.
Volunteers like Ken Black of Odessa also go once a week to follow up.
Explaining that 42 inmates are involved in the program at the Lynaugh Unit of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice at Fort Stockton, Black said, “It’s more of a fun time than a church time when we go in for three days with lots of singing, outside food and roundtables where we talk about who Jesus is.
“The last time, we had poster board and ugly sock contests. The inmates have a band, and they’re pretty good. God loves everybody, and we are his hands and feet to help people. He is not mad at them, he just wants to help them.”
“When we get through this life, the only thing that will matter is if we tried to help anybody or just did what we wanted to.”
Black, an 83-year-old retired swimming pool construction contractor, said “Kairos” is a Greek word meaning “in God’s special time.”
“Some inmates go through it and it’s like water off a duck’s back, but others say it’s life-changing,” he said. “A lot of guys get out of prison, get on the Kairos team and go back in.”
Black said the organization sends 35-40 volunteers and 20-25 women who cook but only go into the prison on Sunday at Fort Stockton. Smaller groups make Friday and Saturday “refresher” visits every three months.
Senior Warden Joel Gauna agreed that Kairos “is unique.”
“It’s non-denominational and led by people from all walks of life, including some ex-offenders,” Gauna said in a news release. “I appreciate that Kairos insures an offender’s religious needs are met and especially how an offender’s behavior changes for the better.”
“My experience with Kairos volunteers has been great. Their enthusiasm is genuine, and they are sincere in their mission to change offenders’ lives for the better.”
Kairos of Texas Chairman Steve Newton of Arlington said volunteers are also busy at the Rudd Unit in Brownfield, the Robertson Unit north of Abilene, the Wallace Unit at Colorado City, the Daniel Unit east of Snyder, the Smith Unit in Lamesa and the Montford Unit south of Lubbock.
“Twelve Kairos Outside programs minister to the female relatives of someone incarcerated,” Newton said. “In addition, we have a program called Kairos Torch for youthful offenders in two units.”
Newton said the program’s central feature is continuity. “Kairos is unique in that we don’t leave,” he said.
“The volunteers who conduct the weekend programs return to let the participants know they are loved and have not been forgotten. At some units, over 300 Kairos graduates return every week to participate in programs designed to reinforce the messages taught during their weekends.”