What they say...
... about Kairos Inside
“An Amazing Gift” – a female inmate shares her story
I thought I would write and let you know how rapt I was to have been chosen to take part in the recent Kairos course at our centre. I must tell you I was rather sceptical when I first put my name down. I was thinking, here we go again – another course, a bunch of do-gooders, probably Bible bashers to boot.
But hey, I was wrong. Kairos for me was the most wonderful experience I have ever encountered. What really got me, was that these people really didn't care what I had done to end up in here – they just weren't interested. They all possessed this ability to love you regardless of what you have done, and forgive you, although they didn't know what they were forgiving you for. I hope I develop the ability to be like that to others in the future. At least my direction is right this time.
At first other girls were quick to “bag” you, but the strange part about it was the fact that they could actually see a difference in me after the course. When I asked what could they see, they answered, "I don't know, you just seem to be glowing!" It gave them something to think about anyway.
The team and the other guests have become the best lot of friends I have met since my 14 months here, and I know their friendship will help me though the next 2 years.
Thanks so much
A personal testimony from an inmate
I attended Kairos and my life changed from that time.
Soon after the Kairos course, I had the opportunity to face my victim's parents. This was arranged by the Restorative Justice program, which brings the victims and perpetrators of a crime together in a conference situation to create an opportunity to say sorry and where some sort of restitution, healing and forgiveness are made possible.
This was a huge thing for me of course, but I gained great benefit. Facing my victim's parents brought me face to face with the reality of the inhuman thing that I did and I have found it quite hard to climb over it. At the time it caused me to push away the people who had become close and dear to me, Kairos people who cared about me and supported me. But I think I only ended up hurting myself, and them too. I thought if I pull back far enough I won't hurt anyone, but it didn't work out that way! I struggle with myself for the 'gutless' thing that I did. You see I had never hurt anyone in my life before, and I don't know why this thing happened, but it did and I'm living with it every day.
Over the past few months I've learnt to hand it over. I've had to be humble, asking for forgiveness from those I've hurt, and asking God to give me salvation for myself.
On one of my 'weekend leaves' I was invited to stay with a couple that have been involved in Kairos, and who care about me. I was really blessed by them because I learnt from them humility. I feel in the past I have been blaming everyone else, when I should have been looking at myself. I'm the problem, not anyone else, and it's time for me to step up to the plate and take responsibility for my pain, the hurt I've done, the painful journey I've put others through and the painful journey I've put myself through.
It's been like having a disease and not getting treatment, but I'm seeking that treatment now and I'm feeling that with each passing day I'm obeying God more and more, plus I'm trusting His words more instead of beating myself up.
I'm feeling a lot better about myself, and slowly getting to know the old me, but with new principles and morals. I used to know what I wanted to do in the future, but now it's just a day at a time, one foot after another, but I am on a journey that is now filled with hope for the future and putting some dignity back into my life.
“The Experience of a Lifetime” – expectations fulfilled in an inmate
When we came into Kairos a little over three days ago, the team said we might have the experience of a lifetime. They told us that after this week, our lives might be changed forever.
Some of us scoffed at the idea, some of us hoped to get answers – others of us decided on the first night not to come back!
Well, we ALL came back – probably because we realized even then, that something special was happening in these rooms and in our hearts. Coming back, being with very special people who showed us unconditional acceptance and filled us with hope, is the best decision some of us will ever make.
Slowly but very surely, we listened to the talks, the sharing of the life story of team members and their journeys, - as we listened the love with which it was shared surrounded us. Some of us fought against the feelings we were experiencing, but we really didn't stand a chance against the overwhelming power of that love that was based on such a strong level of faith and given in such humility.
We learnt a lot over these days, about each other, about ourselves, about forgiveness, but most of all about ourselves - that there was a choice and the possibility of a better way ahead and yes, about our beliefs and faith.
None of us are scoffing now, some of us have answers, and all of us had an experience that will last us all our lifetime, because our lives are changed. How could they not have when we have experienced love like we have never known before?
... about Kairos Outside
Rachel, a former Kairos Outside guest
At Kairos Outside I heard the stories of women just like me whose family members were imprisoned. I heard how they felt, how they survived and I wept floods of tears. I couldn't believe that there were others who actually knew what I felt and, like me, had lived those days when you wish it would all just go away. These women were an inspiration to me and have helped me start living again by making better choices and reminding me that I don't have to walk alone.
Claire, Kairos Outside Team member
It’s very easy just not to know what a hidden section of the population like these women who are supporting someone in prison, are going through. Most have courage and perseverance to be able to survive, but most do not have a lot of hope. To be able to add hope to their courage and perseverance is a very precious thing.
Christine, a recent guest
Thank you for making me feel like a princess and for giving me a wonderful weekend. Watching the faces and expressions on the guests faces as they received their roses and were photographed and then escorted to their tables at the special dinner on the Saturday night was incredible. Two guests were overcome by what happened and kept saying to each other "I can’t believe it".
Louise (not her real name) looks at Kairos Outside, as an experience of support for women who have someone they love serving a prison sentence - she titled it "Hurting on the inside for those on the outside"
A caring friend invited me to be a guest on a Kairos Outside weekend. My initial reaction was one of independence— ‘I’m OK’. Besides, I wasn’t sure what to expect or who I might see there. My professional background brings me in contact with a lot of people in my local community. What would they think?
Kairos Outside starts with a gentle, live-in weekend and offers the opportunity to join an ongoing support group. On the weekend, team members share their stories and how they manage life’s challenges. Some guests have never shared their story with anyone, not even family or friends. They find it too difficult or painful to talk about their situation or feel silenced by fear of people’s judgements. But there is compassion amongst women who share a similar experience.
There is no pressure, and the team creates a safe environment where everyone makes a commitment to maintain confidentiality. We share tears, laughter and wonderful meals. Some women benefit so much from the weekend that they are able to make significant changes in their lives, to create healthier relationships for themselves and their families, join or rejoin the workforce, or even go on to study.
For me Kairos Outside was a very nurturing and supportive weekend and I am now on team supporting other women.
... about Kairos Torch
Kairos Torch testimonies are coming shortly