Kairos Prison Ministry History
Kairos is an interdenominational Christian ministry whose programs are designed to be presented in state and federal men’s and women’s correctional institutions in the U.S. with adaptations for other countries and languages. This ministry is governed by the national board of Kairos Prison Ministry, Inc. with headquarters in Winter Park, Florida. The ministry is conducted, in cooperation with the chaplains of correctional institutions, by teams of volunteers who are selected, trained and certified by area governing bodies of Kairos and approved by correctional institutions as citizen volunteers.
Kairos volunteers focus on small group dynamics, prayer and share groups, personal relationships and vulnerability in Christian community. It is a continuing ministry with weekly activities involving the Kairos team inside the unit and volunteers from the free world. The primary objective of the 4-day program is to prepare selected residents of the correctional institution for an ongoing Christian community.
There are two Greek words for time. One of them, with which we are all familiar, is “kronos,” meaning linear time … hours, days, weeks, etc. The other is “kairos,” used in the sense of a time set by God for a particular occurrence. “KAIROS” was found to be a word of very special significance in the environment of the correctional institution where the word “time” carries so many special connotations.
Kairos is a ministry of the disciples whom God has called into community and sent forth into the environment of the correctional institution. Kairos has been called he best example of the early church in existence today.
The Kairos strategy is to identify leaders from the key environments of the institution, especially gang leaders, who have the greatest potential to impact their environments with the message of Christ’s love. These leaders are then invited to attend a 4-Day Short Course in Christianity through which they are introduced to the Kairos community already active in the jail or prison.
In the years since Kairos began in Florida, thousands of residents have participated in the continuing ministry. A statement heard over and over again from residents attempting to describe the ministry of the 4-day program has been this, or a variation of it: “It wasn’t the words that got to me. I’ve heard words like these often in my life. It was the acting out of them. The unconditional love.”
Central to Kairos is Jesus’ “new” commandment. “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35.