By the Rev. Joyce Harder, Deacon, Christ Church, Mt. Pleasant
Kairos Outside is a ministry that’s deeply personal to me. Let me tell you why. My niece, Julie, my family, and I are now over six years into her 10-year prison sentence. She will be released the summer of 2022. Until that joyous day comes, we will continue to “do the time” with her. For me, this entails everything from visiting her four hours away to listening to her heartache and frustration and encouraging her through daily phone calls, to carrying out myriad administrative tasks such as banking and ordering Christmas presents online for her teen-aged children.
In 2009, Julie was behind the wheel of a car in a tragic accident in which two women were killed. Their deaths shattered their families and community. Julie’s family was also shattered. In the wake of the accident, I begged God to redeem this calamity, and He abundantly answered that prayer by introducing me to Kairos Outside and leading me to ordination to serve Him in this ministry as a Vocational Deacon.
One of three programs of Kairos Prison Ministry International, Kairos Outside demonstrates God’s grace and love through Christian support of women who have loved ones who are, or have been, incarcerated. Based on the Cursillo model, Kairos Outside centers around a special Weekend Retreat, where, in a safe environment among loving people, women interact with other women who are in similar situations and learn to form small support groups to give them strength for the challenges they face.
The Weekend Retreat encompasses a series of talks by women sharing their life journey. Each Guest has the opportunity to review the talks in small table family groups. However, sharing in the small group is voluntary. The program is interspersed with music, prayer, fun activities, and general pampering. The Weekend is Christian in nature, although no religious affiliation is required to attend. Any adult female, 20 years-old or older, whose life has been impacted by the incarceration of relatives/friends, is eligible to attend a Kairos Outside Weekend. Formerly incarcerated women who did not have an opportunity to attend a Kairos Inside Weekend while incarcerated may also attend. There is no cost to participate in this weekend.
Having served on four of 15 Kairos Outside weekends in Upstate South Carolina, I can testify to the mighty, healing movement of the Holy Spirit among scores of women who have suffered alone for years in their sorrow.
God, in His magnificent grace and exquisite “Kairos” timing, has extended His Kingdom by engineering the chartering of Kairos Outside Lowcountry in 2017 and the planning of Kairos Outside Lowcountry Weekend #1 this spring!
KO Lowcountry #1 will take place the weekend of November 22-24, 2019, at the Lutheran Coastal Retreat Center on the Isle of Palms. As a Vocational Deacon, I am charged with taking the needy to the Church and the Church to the needy. I am therefore inviting my Diocesan Family to come alongside me to, with God’s help, ensure the success of KO Lowcountry Weekend #1. Moreover, I invite you to come together as a diocese to help build up Kairos Outside Lowcountry so it will be sustainable for years to come. Thousands of Lowcountry women suffer due to the incarceration of a loved one. The goal is to hold at least two Weekends per year, if not more, and to build a vibrant support system for these hurting women.
You Can Help with Kairos Outside. Here’s How:
1) Pledge to pray over Weekend #1. Your name will be placed on a strip of construction paper to be fashioned into a very long chain that will create a visual of the prayers of the saints for the Guests.
2) Color multiple copies of a special picture, hundreds of which will be displayed on walls in the Retreat Center to demonstrate to Guests the love and support of the Body of Christ. I can e-mail you a template to print and distribute to Children’s and Youth Ministries, Life Groups, family members, and friends. They can be mailed to the address, right.
3) For women and men: Serve at the Retreat Center as a behind-the-scenes Angel during the hours of your choice over the course of the weekend. E-mail me for an application.
4) Purchase meals for Guests. Each meal costs $10, and there are six meals over the weekend. A card is placed at each Guest’s plate saying that “Jason from Charleston donated to your weekend.” Make checks out to “Kairos Outside SC” and designate “Meals for KO Lowcountry.” Mail to the address below.
5) Make general tax-exempt monetary donations to “Kairos SC,” earmarked “Kairos Outside Lowcountry.” Mail to the address below.
6) Help raise tax-exempt donations within the community and beyond. (Businesses, foundations, etc.)
As a start-up, Kairos Outside Lowcountry Weekend #1 will cost $15,000. This includes lodging, food, sustainable supplies, and disposable supplies. After that, weekends should run around $10,000 – $12,000.
To get involved, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 843-452-6083.
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for Me.’ ”(Matthew 25:40)
Kairos Outside Lowcountry
P.O. Box 2206
Mt. Pleasant, SC 29465