Kairos 37, Ironwood State Prison, Yard D, Blythe, CA
“I was in prison and you visited me.” Matthew 25:36
From November 1-4, a team of 26 Christian Men, primarily from churches all over the Coachella Valley (but also from Beaumont and Las Vegas, NV) met with 36 Ironwood State prisoners to share the love of Christ at Kairos weekend. The following Saturday, Nov 10th, we all went back out for an “Instructional Reunion” for these 36 guys. Over 30 of them showed up because they had either accepted Christ or wanted to learn more about what it means to be a follower of Christ. It is common for these inside men to express gratitude for their time in prison because it has led them to Christ.
“If I had not come here I would be dead by now and would have never had Jesus in my life.”
Kairos Prison Ministry is an international organization with several councils in prisons throughout California. The Kairos weekend and follow up are well organized weekends that start with sharing the love of God for each person he has created and culminate with the opportunity to commit to following Christ. We stay in family groups with 5-6 of the inside guys and 3 of us outside guys together at each table for the whole weekend. Slowly the inside guys come out of their protective shells and open up as we listen to presenters, discuss the topics, draw posters and do skits based on these talks.
As you can imagine most of the prisoners come from extremely broken homes. One of the inside men expressed mixed emotions about getting out on parole in a couple of months. This is his second time in. He will be sent back to his home community of Indio. Unfortunately, everyone he knows in Indio, including his family, are now involved in drugs and gangs. In fact, as a child, his Mother had him run drugs for her. Through connections made at Kairos, however, we were able to give him some options. Statistics show that prisoners who go though the Kairos program, and stay with it, are 3 to 4 times less likely to end up back in prison than those who don’t. Some of the men we share Christ with are in for life without parole (LWOP). Yet they too find that in Christ there is the freedom to be a child of Christ and serve Him even while in prison. They now have purpose and a destiny that cannot be taken from them.
So how does this happen? Because followers of Christ come together to ask the Holy Spirit to intervene. We have Prayer Angels that sign up on our calendar to pray at specific times over the 4 days so we are always covered in prayer. The team gets together for over 20 hours of team building, training and prayer prior to each weekend. Kids color small posters and write notes to the prisoners. We have people signup to go to the Graduation on Sunday. Usually there are 60 or more visitors for the graduation. They get to hear words from the inside men about their Kairos experience during the “open mic” time and then mingle and talk with the guests for a little while. All of this is amazing to these guys. Some have not received a note or visitor in over 20 years! We show them Christ’s love as the Church, which they are now a part of.
PDCPC has been one of the central churches involved in this ministry for years. All of the team meetings and training are held right here at our church. Three members of PDCPC are part of the Ironwood Council (leadership team) of Kairos Ironwood. This is our 19thyear at Ironwood, Yard D. We do these 4 day Kairos weekends twice a year, April and November. Over 1,000 prisoners have gone through the program in Yard D. We have just started a Kairos ministry in Yard C, which also houses the Youth Offender Program (YOP). So we need more men to join us in reaching out to share God’s love with these prisoners.
Christ commanded us to visit the prisoners. We go to Ironwood every third Tuesday of the month for the afternoon and evening for “reunions” with Kairos graduates. These “reunions” are a great opportunity to see if Kairos is for you. Contact Tim Scott (760.777.0102), Don Hobley (760.574.8279) or Brad Smith (303.898.8229) for more information about this amazing ministry. Show up for a reunion and I guarantee you will see, with your own eyes, the Holy Spirit at work.
To learn more go to KairosPrisonMinistry.org and visit and “like” our local facebook page “Ironwood-Kairos.”
Written by Brad Smith