Kairos Prison Ministry Australia

From darkness to colour with the love of Jesus – Sue’s Testimony

sue hodges

Imagine waking up each day and feeling like the world is in darkness. Every day is simply about survival. Your marriage, your family, your work – they all sit in the darkness too.

This is what life was like for Australian Wiradjuri woman Sue Hodges before she encountered the love of God on a Kairos Outside weekend run by Kairos Prison Ministry Australia. This is where she truly met Jesus and was put on the path to trust in him, bringing the world into colour.

Trapped in the world’s darkness

Sue knew who Jesus was when growing up, but the circumstances of a broken world saw her turn away. She shares, “I turned away from Jesus in my teenage years, not wanting to go to church and wanting to be the teenager that went out and did what I liked to do. I lost my parents at a very early age due to sickness. And I lost my brothers too through tragic accidents. Those things made me feel like there was no God. I lost my faith and I felt like I was in the dark.”

Looking back, Sue sees how that darkness just continued to grow in her life. She reflects, “Over a 10 year span I felt like I was in darkness and I was just in survival mode…because I didn’t know the Lord.”

Sue tried to distract herself from the emptiness and pain of the world she was experiencing by drinking and smoking in excess. For her, she finds it hard not to look back with regret and see how this impacted her, as well as her now husband and kids. Sue says, “I wish life had been different for me but it’s how I coped, and it wasn’t until I came to know the Lord that things started to appear in colour.”

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Saying ‘yes’ to care

It was through a Kairos Outside weekend that Sue was shown the love of God, and felt her heart soften towards receiving the grace of Jesus.

Kairos Outside provides support for female relatives or friends of current or former prison inmates. It begins with a weekend designed to create a safe and understanding environment in which participants can share with other women who have been through similar experiences. These weekends acknowledge that those caring for incarcerated loved ones also “do time” in a sense, and therefore need love and support.

This was Sue’s experience. She was supporting her brother who was in and out of prison. This included prison visits, court appearances, hospital visits, providing housing while he was out and going through all the heartbreak and frustration of experiencing him in those circumstances. All while also working and raising a family!

At the time she worked for a government department, and one of her colleagues there was different to the rest. Sue describes, “She always seemed to be at peace in herself and she had lots of friends and she used to talk about meeting with these ladies. But I never really said, ‘What’s all that about?’”

Then Sue’s colleague invited her to a Kairos Outside weekend. She knew what Sue was going through in supporting her brother in and out of prison. However, Sue said no. “I was still very suspicious. I did not know anything about these people. My friend was just so different, she didn’t come and drink with me, or smoke, and occasionally she would drop little things about Jesus.”

When Sue said no, her colleague wasn’t put off, she simply asked something different – could Sue drop an Aboriginal elder she knew off at the weekend and then come pick her up at the end – this Sue agreed to.

Sue dropped the elder off and was invited in but she again said no. “I wasn’t going to get involved in that. I didn’t want to know,” she says.

At the end of the weekend, Sue arrived to pick the elder up and the closing ceremony of the weekend was happening so she watched. To her surprise, it was interesting and looked good.

So after knocking back the invitation twice, Sue finally said yes the third time her friend invited her to the weekend. Little did she know how accepting this invitation would lead to the biggest ‘yes’ in her life, saying yes to the gift of grace from Jesus.

Encountering God through Kairos

When she arrived at the weekend, Sue immediately felt welcomed by Kairos volunteers and fellow guests. They were talked through how the weekend would run and she recalls thinking, ‘It’s just a weekend’, it’ll be quick. However, it felt like it lasted for a long time and created an incredible space for her to feel truly cared for.

The weekend involved a lot of wonderful food, talks, meditations and singing songs that Sue remembered from church as a child. Sue and the other guests were considered and cared for every step of the way, from meals to the conversations after the talks.

One of the most impactful moments for Sue was on Sunday when the volunteers had a birthday party for the guests. Sue shares, “They said this is for all the birthdays you’ve missed out on because you’ve been taking care of your family. I’d never had a birthday party. And I just cried and couldn’t believe how that affected me.”

She describes the weekend as, “one surprise after the next but all beautiful and just came together to show me that God is love.”

Going home that weekend Sue decided she wanted to be a Christian and experience the love and peace that had been shown to her.

“I cried all the way home. It took me over an hour and I only lived ten minutes up the road. I kept pulling over because I didn’t feel safe to drive. I was still so emotional,” Sue shares.

She got home and was greeted by her husband who asked her about the weekend. Sue recalls, “I cried and he said, ‘What’s wrong? Is everything all right? Something happened?’ And I went, ‘Yeah, something happened. Things are going to change around here’. I’ll never forget that feeling of just feeling loved.”

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A world in colour through Christ

From this one weekend, the trajectory of Sue’s life changed. She took the Bible and cross she’d been gifted by Kairos and started to get to know Jesus. She and her husband started to go to church and their lives changed from dark to bright and colourful.

Sue shares, “It wasn’t until I came to know the Lord that things started to appear in colour. If you can visualise that it’s just like the lights went on and I found friends that loved me and helped guide and support me.”

Now, 15 years later, Kairos is still a big part of Sue’s life.

She is heavily involved in volunteering for Kairos Outside, Kairos Inside (the Kairos ministry inside prisons) and leadership roles. She is also a huge advocate for Kairos and their work.

“My husband and I, we weren’t Christians when we came to Kairos, but since coming to Kairos in 2009 we both started to go to church,” Sue shares. “He and I serve on teams together and attend conferences together. We’ve been married over 40 years now and [Kairos] is a part of how the Lord works in our lives.”

For Sue, volunteering is a natural response to how the grace of God has worked in her life, and she wants to see other people like her find colour in life through Christ. She says, “We are volunteers because we love the Lord and we want to let people know that even if they feel like the whole world is against them, God isn’t. And there is a group of us at Kairos that loves them and wants to see them flourish.”

Interested in partnering with Kairos Prison Ministry Australia? Learn more about how you can support the ministry here.



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