Thursday, July 24, 2014

An Open Invitation to All My Friends - Come to Prison with Me!

Dear Friends,

Many of you know I am very involved with Kairos Prison Ministry.  (See post just below this one). Kairos is an incredible ministry whose mission is to “share Christ’s love with the incarcerated, their families, and those who work with them”.   I have been asked and have agreed to serve as the Kairos Weekend Leader for Kairos #52 at Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka.  I will be leading a team of 38 women into the prison to conduct this weekend for 36 selected inmates Sept. 11-14.  We are right in the middle of team training.  It’s a big commitment for our team – requiring over 34 hours of team training, Department of Corrections Training, and 3.5 days at Tutwiler sharing Christ’s love.  But we witness lives changed every time!   
I’d love to have your support. There are many ways you can help.  Later on, we will need help with some specific supplies or food. But for now, we have two primary needs.

·         Prayers.  Please pray for us, for the inmates who will participate in this experience, for the warden and officers, and for the chaplain. Pray that God’s love will soften hearts and change lives.  We make a visual representation of all the prayers being given by making a paper chain. Each link has the name of someone who has agreed to pray for the weekend. If you are willing to commit to pray for us and would like to be included on the prayer chain, please send me your name and I will add a link for you.  It’s a powerful symbol to the ladies when we literally wrap the entire chapel in the prayers of God’s people.


·         Financial Support.  This weekend costs a lot. It costs approximately $150 dollars a person, both for team members and for the participants (inmates). That comes to over $11,000 for the weekend (38 team members, 36 participants).  If anyone would like to sponsor an inmate (or sponsor a team member!), we would love your help. You can also donate any amount towards a sponsorship.  Full disclosure – you do not “get” anything for choosing to sponsor someone for this incredible experience. We can’t tell you their names or tell you how they specifically experienced the weekend. We promise confidentiality to everyone participating.  But you do get the joy of knowing you are making a difference in the kingdom of God.  And you will also receive a letter acknowledging your donation after January 1st for tax purposes.  Kairos is a registered non-profit.

 Another way to support this ministry financially is by purchasing 1 or more “meal tickets”.  If you are unable to sponsor a participant, you can sponsor a meal for $5 (or more).  The way that works is our participants will receive a small meal ticket on their placemat at meal time indicating that meal was paid for for them by (your name) from (city).  It’s a great way to show them the larger Christian community is supporting them as well. If you would like to sponsor one (or more) inmates, purchase meal tickets, or donate any amount towards our goal, please make checks made out to “Kairos of Alabama” and give them to me or private message me for my address.

If there are other ways you would like to help, please contact me. We have all kinds of opportunities.  Some possible ways to help include:

·         Providing a meal for approximately 40 team members at our last team meeting Sept. 6

·         Connecting me with a business that would be willing to donate groceries (particularly large quantities of meat needed for the meals we prepare for the Kairos weekend).

·         Walmart or Sam’s gift cards to use to purchase supplies

·         Sets of 36-38 placemats created by children (Contact me for guidelines)

·         Paper expressions of God’s love in sets of 36-38 (such as bookmarks, poems, etc.  Contact me for guidelines)

·         Set up a visit for me or for some of our other Kairos volunteers to come speak in your church, Sunday school class, or other group.  We have volunteers all over the state and while I can’t promise to make it happen, I’ll do what I can to either come or connect you with someone else who can come share what God is doing inside Tutwiler and other Alabama prisons through Kairos Prison Ministry.

Matthew 25:36 states “I was in prison and you visited me.”

Please join us in going and visiting and loving with your prayers and your gifts.  Thank you!


Saturday, July 19, 2014

Biggest Blessing of the Day - When a Man Stranded at Bus Station with a Life Sentence Crashes My Meeting!

My friend Laura Headley has inspired me to blog again. I love writing, but just get so busy with life. But she wrote something inspiring and then we had a chance to talk about it and I realized I've missed putting thoughts down on paper.

So today I want to write about something that happened on our Kairos team meeting today. Those who have read for a  while know I am very involved in Kairos prison ministry.  See for some of my earlier thoughts about this ministry.

Well, we are gearing up for our Fall 2014 weekend Sept. 11-14 and I'm serving as the leader of this weekend.  I'm sure I'll post again later about ways you can help.  But today was our 2nd team meeting.  I had just had team members pair up with their prayer partners and they were spread out across the room sharing and praying together.  And I noticed a man on the side of the room.  He caught my eye and looked like he had something to say.  So I walked over there.  This is his story.

His name was "Bill" (I changed his name since this is a public blog).   He used to be at a maximum security men's prison in our state, where he had a life sentence.  He was nearing parole and had been moved to a transitional program in another area of our state.  It's kind of like work-release, but not exactly.  The transitional program is a more minimal security facility.  And long story - he was out on a weekend pass for some family reasons.  And he ended up stuck at the  bus station downtown with no money. He was trying to get back to the transitional program by tomorrow. He stayed at the bus station for over 24 hours when he decided to approach the church we were meeting in.  When he first came and saw that there were a bunch of women meeting inside, he left. A couple of our team members saw him leave. But he says he felt like God was telling him "Go back. Those are your sisters".  His answer? "My sisters! God, that's a bunch of women and most of them are white!" (He was black). But he came back, scared.  And he stood in the back of the room while I was speaking and heard the word "Kairos".  See, Bill had experienced a Kairos weekend when he was at the men's prison. He said it changed his life.  He told me he was muslim before that weekend.  (and fyi..our "goal" is not to convert anyone. Simply to love them like Jesus loves. Any changing of hearts is done by Him). But Bill's heart was changed.

I introduced Bill to the rest of the team and he shared with the team some very encouraging remarks about his life, what God had done for him, and he encouraged our team members in carrying out this ministry.  He told them to keep believing that God can change lives.  We invited him to stay for lunch and we collected a donation to buy him a bus ticket.  After lunch, a couple of our team members walked him to the bus station and got him the ticket.  He didn't want to leave!  I'm not sure who was more blessed - Bill or our team.  We so often get to plant some seeds.  But we don't always get to see the fruit of those seeds. Today, we were incredibly blessed to see the fruit of those seeds.

(And if my mom happens to read this - do not worry! It was a room full of people.  And we did have a few men present with us as well. We were all safe, I promise!)