From Thursday October 21 to Sunday October 24 I will take a break from the internet. I will be part of a group of 30 Christian men who will go into the Cimmaron Correctional Facility in Cushing Oklahoma to be part of a program called Kairos. From Thursday evening until Sunday afternoon we will conduct a retreat for 42 residents of the prison selected for us by the prison staff. We ask the prison to send us the negative leaders, those inmates who exert influence over their peers in some way or another, often by fear and intimidation.
During these three and one half days we will sit at tables to listen to talks and meditations on the love of God and the Christian faith. Those of us who make up the team are of many different denominations; Protestant, Catholic, and Pentecostal. Although we have elements of our faith communities which distinguish us from one another, there is a large middle ground which binds us together as Christians. We carry a united message of God's love for all He has created and His admonition that we love one another as He loves us. This central messages is explained in talks, music, and meditations, and demonstrated by the activities. In the words of St. Francis, "preach the gospel, use words if necessary'.
Since early in 1997 I have participated in about 20 of these weekends and can tell you that it changes lives. Over this next weekend I will see men filled with hate and anger and affiliated with prison gangs, Crips, Bloods, Aryan Nations, Native American Brotherhood, Black Muslims, you name it. Over the course of this retreat many will experience the love of God for the first time, and will lay aside their anger and begin to accept each other as brothers in Christ.
If you are still reading this I will tell you that I understand your skepticism, but I can only tell you that I have seen this happen time and again. Does it only last for the weekend? For some it does, but for many it is the beginning of a new journey. Matthew 25:36, "I was in prison and you visited me."
I have rambled too long already. Sorry, but I get excited about this. If you are interested, Kairos has a web site with lots of information. Take a look.