Monday, December 31, 2012

Kairos 54: Returning to the World

Sunday was bittersweet.  All of us knew this was the end of a fantastic time of love and celebration.  Each of the men were to return to their prison lives and all of the inside team would return to the world.  We continued with a few more talks and discussions as well as more meditations.  I wrote each of the men a second letter telling them what I had learned from each of them and what my prayers for each of them were.  Harold told me again how much he appreciated our prayers and how he had never known love in his life.  That he had been a child of the streets, been gang banging to survive since he was 12, but that he had given his life to Christ and that all we wanted now was to do his time and go be a father to his daughters.

Two inmates came to me at two different times and said they wanted to apologize to a teacher for all the problems they had caused their teachers through the years.  At lunch I spoke at length to Jose about how he needed to get out of the gang if he really wanted to change his life.  That afternoon they signed my notebook and I found two letters that Jose and Gavin had slipped in when I wasn’t looking.

Here is Gavin’s message to me:

“God is good.  God is Great.  Continue to work for God and watch those who break free of sin because of your Christian Action.  Never let the Devil steal your passion, for Christ is our Lord and Savior.  Your brother in Christ, Gavin.  I Love you Ed.”

Here is what Terry wrote:

“They called him Master, Father, Lord, Savior, Friend, God, but the best name of all was Teacher.   I love you Brother.  God Bless you.”

Sonny wrote, “Thank you for being my brother.  I needed it.  I love you. God Bless.”

Reyes wrote, “Que Dios te Bendiga mucho para siempre!”

Jose’s letter was the longest, and I know it was something he had to work on to complete: 
“Mr. Ed.  I want to thank God for blessing us with the chance to even have met you…along with the rest of the family.  “You” for some weird reason , for some way, some how feel good and have given me a real friend and positive vibe.  You remind me of my teachers and family who tried to help me and cared to see me succeed in life, but then I was too childish and lost-minded to all the negative things that I believed would be cool and real.  But they weren’t and still to this day I still get lost and caught in wrong things even though I know  they are wrong.  But I’m no longer blind; I know real and believe that one day soon I will be man enough to make a full change.  If only I can have friend’s like you to not JUDGE me, to keep it real and keep me comfortable and MOTIVATED.  I see parole for the second time, and if I come home I want to help other kids just like I was with the same surroundings, friends, and crazy life style.  I believe I can get into the young people’s minds and hearts because I been there and done that, and I’m still trying to get it together.  I come to make a change.  If I ever cross your mind and heart, know that I will be here as a friend.  Now and with God’s love, when I get out.  Thank you for your love, time, and true care.  Jose AKA J-Smurf.”

Eventually we went to the closing ceremony where the free worlders were now separated from the inmates and were joined by previous Kairos inmates as well.  It was an open mic session and any man that wanted to could speak about the Kairos experience.  Terry spoke twice.  First about how he had finally been able to forgive others.  The second time he took the mic and said, “You know, when I was in school at Hastings, I was a trouble maker.  Most of my teachers hated to see me coming and usually they would just point at the door and say “Get Out!”  I would go down to Mr. Wetterman’s class, knock on the door and he would let me in.  He welcomed me, put up with me, and taught me my love of history.  I love you for that.  Thank you for being my teacher.”  The whole place stood and applauded, I just cried.

During the final talk, a prisoner who helped lead the inside Kairos weekend stood up and spoke about giving his life to God.  He was 25 years old and he was in Ferguson for Life.  He would never get out, but his faith was in Christ and that one day he would be free in Heaven worshipping God and feeling love surround him forever.  He spoke about the gangs in prison and warned them that they could not serve two masters, it was either Christ or the Gang, and that if they wanted heaven they had to make a choice.  I watched as these words hit Jose.  He was crying, and nodding, and staring at me. I know he was remembering the conversation I had had with him about that very subject.  When it was time to leave, the brothers in white all stood and applauded us as we left. I hurt for my boys and pray that they can stay strong and that their hearts are truly changed and that they can continue on the Christian path in that dark place.
I can’t wait to go back again. 

1 comment:

  1. Brother Ed, as usual you blew me away with your 4 day testimony of ministry behind bars. Years ago I too consented to "Crazy Ray's" invitation to do a Kairos weekend someday after Emmaus but wound up serving two churches instead. Thank you for this heartfelt glimpse of what I've been missing all this time. God bless you brother in all of your endeavors while serving Him. De Colores!


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