Jalapeno & Sour Cream Ministry

Kairos Prison Ministry was one of the ways to Serve the World we highlighted at GGCC during Lent. Here's an update on what's happening with that ministry and how it changes lives for the inmates who participate.

One inmate told me with a huge smile that he hadn't had sour cream in 13 years, and he couldn't believe a bunch of "outside guys" he didn't know would bring them sour cream (for the baked potatoes, real meat, and burritos we also brought in). Other inmates were visibly delighted to get real, fresh jalapenos, which was a rich flavor many of them thought they would never get to experience again in their lives.

Yes, many of these men came for the food they had heard about, but they were filled up with something else altogether that they weren't expecting. They found friendship, forgiveness, unconditional love from the Christian Community, and the Holy Spirit!

I have been "busting at the seams" waiting to tell you all about some of the incredible ways God used your generous donations at last weekend's big 3.5 day Kairos Prison Ministry event inside the Sterling Correctional Facility in northeast Colorado! This was all about the inmates (we call residents) and God, but I confess I was so blessed I almost couldn't absorb any more Joy in one weekend!

Here's how a Kairos weekend works.

  • There were about 42 first-time inmates who signed up for the event, plus another 16 prior "graduates" (inmates) who volunteered to come back and serve.
  • There were about 24 of us outside team members plus a "kitchen team" of wives and others on the outside who brought in the food.
  • We assign the residents to "table families" of 6 inmates and 3 outside guys for the weekend so that they can start feeling comfortable sharing more deeply as they get to know us and each other.
  • We give about five 20 minute "talks" per day on various topics ranging from "Choices" to "You are Not Alone".
  • We sing lots of songs, make posters at our tables, come up with skits, present the posters and perform the skits each evening. And we laugh a ton! And we talk one on one and in groups about everything imaginable.
  • We pray and meditate a lot in the "chapel" room. And we serve all the cookies and chips and drinks the men can consume, all day every day. A couple guys said at the Closing that this was the best time they had had in their entire lives (can you imagine??).
Many of these men have not had a visitor or a letter in 10, 15, 20+ years! On Saturday, we give each man at least 30 hand-written letters to read on the spot (oh, yeah, lots of tears...). On Saturday night we have a special Forgiveness Ceremony (yep, more tears!). On Sunday, we have a Closing session where 100 or so men and women of the Christian Community come in to the visitor center and surprise the inmates (considering no one ever comes to visit them...oh, yeah, a bunch more tears!!).

So what, you ask? What difference does any of this make?  Let me tell you just a couple of the numerous stories from this weekend:

  • One leader of one of the white supremacist gangs shocked everyone when he stood up at Closing and said he accepted all the men in the room as brothers and all past issues were forgotten.
  • Another leader told us he was tired of living that life and wanted to give it up and change to live a different kind of life. He had tears in his eyes and a smile on his face. He was one of my sponsorees, and I got to witness a profound inner struggle and change over the weekend. But it's very hard to leave a gang, so he has a rough road ahead.
  • The leader of one of the black gangs stood up and said that calling shots (hits) on people was the easy part, forgiving himself and believing in God and living a Godly life was the hard part. He broke down crying in front of all the other inmates and the community. He said he had gone to his room the night before and cried for the first time in his memory. Showing vulnerability can be dangerous in prison, so the inmates were visibly moved. He doesn't know if he fully accepts God yet, but the seeds are deeply planted.
  • The leader of one of the Hispanic gangs was at my table, and we talked at great length. Very tough questions about Jesus, answered prayers, etc., very difficult for me to try to answer, but God gave me words and this inmate heard God's message regardless how I said it. And he didn't show major signs of change of heart by the end, but the seeds were planted. He said this weekend was a good thing, and that we had made him feel comfortable so that he stayed and soaked it all in.
  • Several men said they had decided to change their lives around and leave their gangs and former friends behind.
  • One man said he no longer cared what the gangs thought of him leaving, he had to change for his kids. The gang leader later stood up and said he would protect this young man and honor his desire to get out. Unheard of!! Except when God is involved!
  • We had Druids, Muslims, and guys from various other "religions", and these guys all had major positive "experiences" to build on. Thank you God!  
I could go on and on... So, let me end by just saying thank you all for your contributions and prayers!! They literally helped change many lives!

 Blessings!

Randy Weldon

1 comment (Add your own)

1. Wendy Saathoff wrote:
Wow! What an amazing adventure with Christ! We forget in our daily lives that sour cream and jalapenos shouldn't be taken for granted, but are in fact another of God's many blessings. Thanks to you and your Kairos ministry for sharing God's blessings both with the prisoners and all of us. What an incredible story to share.

Wed, June 17, 2009 @ 7:35 PM

Add a New Comment


code
 

Comment Guidelines: No HTML is allowed. Off-topic or inappropriate comments will be edited or deleted. Thanks.