A community spiritually freed from the effects of imprisonment reaching all impacted by incarceration, through the love, hope and faith found in Jesus Christ.
Kairos is a Christian, lay-led, ecumenical, volunteer international prison ministry, in which men and women volunteers bring Christ’s love and forgiveness to incarcerated individuals and to their families. Kairos consists of three programs: the Men’s and Women’s Ministry, begun in 1976, Kairos Outside, begun in 1991, and Kairos Torch, begun in 1997.
The Men’s and Women’s Ministry addresses the spiritual needs of prisoners. Kairos volunteers go into prisons in teams of 30 to 40 to pray, share the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ, share meals, and fellowship with the incarcerated on a one-to-one basis. The first visit is a three-day event, during which time the team teaches a short introductory course on Christianity. Subsequent visits are monthly half-day reunions with the prisoners over a twelve-month period.
Kairos Outside provides spiritual healing to families of the incarcerated, who often feel that they too are “doing time”. Spouses, parents and other relatives of prisoners meet with teams of Kairos volunteers to share their faith and gain strength from Christian community.
Kairos Torch provides a ministry to youthful offenders, the most rapidly growing segment of the prison system. Because young people between the ages of 13 and 19 are generally housed in smaller institutions than adult offenders, smaller-sized teams participate in this ministry.
Kairos Ministries currently operates in 270 prisons in 33 states, England, Australia, South Africa, Costa Rica, and Canada. More than 170,000 incarcerated men and women have been introduced to Kairos, since its inception. The current number of volunteers exceeds 20,000 per year.
Kairos Outside is active in 19 states, Canada, England, Australia and South Africa, and includes 35 programs. Kairos Torch is operational in 10 locations.
Kairos Prison Ministry affects the lives of prisoners in countless positive ways. Lives have been changed, and former inmates re-enter society as better spouses, parents and employees. Many released prisoners become volunteers, and give back to society. Some start their own ministries, pastor churches, while others run re-entry programs, and become mentors.
In 2003, Kairos volunteers donated over 3.5 million volunteer hours to the various departments of corrections here and abroad. If you multiply 3.5 million times the minimum wage in the USA of $5.15 per hour, our ministry donated $18 million in volunteer time. Volunteers paid $2 million for supplies, bringing the total donation to $20 million.
In addition to having a positive impact on prisoners, the program also has a very favorable effect upon volunteers. Many volunteers acknowledge that the team training, with its emphasis on introspection, honesty, sharing, and community, enhances their spirituality.
Kairos programs have gained the respect of the correctional system too. In a study of 505 inmates released from Florida prisons, the recidivism rate was 15.7% among those who had participated in one Kairos session, and 10% among those who had participated in two or more Kairos sessions. The non-Kairos control group in the study had a recidivism rate of 23.4%.
The savings to the taxpayer are substantial. As one former prisoner put it: “It cost the government about $1,000,000 to try me and to imprison me for several years, but a $100 program keeps me out”.