A funny thing happened at church last week. During the Sunday worship service, John Nolan presented a “Ministry Moment” on St. Barnabas’s outreach ministries. Somewhere in there, he mentioned a ministry called “Kairos,” which ministers to people who are imprisoned. And he pointed to Charles Howard, who has been involved within the prison at Lebanon changing the hearts and lives of the inmates there, or “guests” as he calls them.
My ears perked up. I hadn’t heard that St. Barnabas was involved with Kairos and knew nothing about Kairos except that the program is an inspiring and transforming ministry. I let Charles know that I wanted to know more about Kairos and what he does there.
Charles came to see me a few days later and told me all about Kairos. He showed photos of the men in the program—and they looked so happy! He told me about the 200 dozen cookies baked by St. Barnabas folk to be brought into the prison, and it reminded me how in prison the inmates (sorry, guests!) never get cookies in their meals and certainly never homemade cookies.
During a Kairos retreat, taking place Thursday through Sunday a couple times a year, the guests are greeted with a smile, some of those homemade cookies, meals that make them feel cared for again, and people who treat them like humans deserving of respect. And they get to meet God who is with them even in prison.
Kairos, like so many other prison activities, was cancelled during the pandemic. But I think that it will resume soon. You will know when the retreats begin again, when you hear a call for 200 dozen cookies to be baked at your homes and given to Charles to be given to men who haven’t enjoyed a homemade cookie for years. You may not know it, but those cookies that you bake for them have often been the window that opens the hearts of prisoners to the forgiving love of Jesus Christ.
Kairos’ mission statement says it best: “To share the transforming love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ to impact the hearts and lives of incarcerated men, women and youth, as well as their families, to become loving and productive citizens of their communities.”
Thank you to Charles for bringing this ministry to St. Barnabas, thank you for the thousands of cookies that you have made in support of this program, and thanks be to God for giving us the chance to bring Matthew 25:36 to reality: “I was in prison and you visited me.”
I would love to hear your reactions and thoughts! Please respond at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s have a conversation!