Posted by Doreen Higgins on Jul 03, 2018
Jack Coderre told us that “Kairos,” from the Greek, means a ‘special moment’ and he described the many special moments offered by the Kairos Christian Ministry in its work among men in prison. Kairos is a “volunteer Christian Ministry,” Jack said, dedicated to helping men in prison in terms of love, hope, friendship, and support.
Kairos serves 494 prisons in 37 states and in 9 foreign countries. It has 30,000 volunteers in 500 locations –and very few paid employees. There are over 2 million people in US prisons; this a far higher proportion of the US population than that of comparable western countries. Recidivism (re-incarceration for crimes committed after release) is also a huge problem. Some 50,000 inmates are in the prisons of the state of Georgia. The mission of Kairos is “To bring the message of God’s love to all incarcerated prisoners and to assist in their transition to becoming productive citizens.” The Ministry began its work in 1976 and has reached more than 200,000 prisoners.

Jack, who has spent much of his working career in the insurance business, is one of many volunteers in Georgia and he is focused particularly on two local prisons: Rogers State Prison and Coastal State Prison. This local work has 30-35 volunteers including 6-7 members of the clergy. It is ecumenical; prisoners participating can have any religion or none. Jack went on to describe in detail what these volunteers actually do to help the prisoners as they serve their time and contemplate their release.

Each weekend local volunteers meet personally with at least 42 inmates. Help consists of several types of activity; personal, that is, one-on-one conversations, group discussions with four or five inmates, and church services. The aim is psychological support for men whose lives are on hold and who may need help in facing their future. They help to bring the unsaved to salvation, to assure them that there are people who care about them, that there is love for them from their fellow Christians. The purpose is to reassure them that society, and in particular Christian men and women outside the prison, have their interests at heart. Efforts to encourage attendance include food and music to promote bonhomie and friendship between the prisoners and the volunteers. Survey work among prisoners establishes that prisoners attend these sessions out of genuine need, out of curiosity, a need for “something to do,” and sometimes out of desperation. Prisoners with the latter motivation may feel they have hit “rock bottom” in their lives and need help to look forward into the future. Survey work in the form of before/after studies has also shown that many of the prisoners do indeed take away positive feelings of hope and peace, and feelings that life may hold a positive future for them. We thanked Jack for telling us of his work and of his kindness in helping some of our most disadvantaged citizens.
Below is a photo of Jack and a other volunteers. L-R  Hunter Hardesty, Chuck Koepke, Jack Coderre and Bob Morrison.