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Signs of Resurrection in Prison

Recently I took part in the Kairos Training held at the Wallace Pack Unit in Navasota, Texas.  Kairos is a time to have an encounter or maybe an awakening or breakthrough with Jesus in prison.  Corresponding trainings are Walk to Emmaus or Cursillo.  I’ve now served on several teams, and seen signs of resurrection, of light coming into darkness…and the darkness cannot overcome it.  (John 1:5)

Many of these men have been imprisoned for many years, and may have retreated so far inside themselves that it is particularly tough to find a way out.  Many have little contact with friends or family on the outside, and when they receive letters as part of the Kairos weekend, it’s the first they may have seen in years.  

During the weekend a series of talks are given.  The men are seated six to a table, along with three team members, including one clergy.  After the talks, the men discuss the subject and then each table makes a poster for each talk, and later in the day each table shows the group their favorite posters.

During the poster presentation the man who presented looked like he had suffered a stroke.  He was sitting down, held his body stiffly and spoke while looking mostly straight ahead.  He pointed to a dark, round circle on the white poster board and  said there was a man who was down a hole, and he never thought he’d get out.  But that man (it was obvious he was speaking of himself in the third person) had found a way out, and that man was talking and taking part in life again.  

Two days later, the same man walked up to the microphone at the front of the room during a time of open sharing of what the weekend had meant.  He was walking, standing, and looking around the room.  

Jesus had shown him hope, he said.  Jesus had shown him love, and he had a bigger purpose to serve the Lord where he was.  

Another man said he had kept a secret for 50 years, never telling anyone, and he was almost ready to share. He had been in the military and served overseas, and he said wanted to share with someone with like experience.  

While we were trying to find such a person, he came up to me and asked me if we could talk.  I don’t have military background, but he told me it was all right.

He told me the story.  He had been leader of an elite unit, the best of the best in specialized warfare, and he said he had seen and done some horrible things.  One day he and his team were supposed to clear a building where they suspected there was danger.  As team leader, he was to go in first.  A young man, barely more than a boy, pushed him aside and ran in, and was killed instantly by a grenade.  

For 50 years this man had carried the burden, carried the guilt, that it should have been him going in, it should have been him dying, the boy should still be alive.  And he never told anyone. 

“Where was Jesus in all that?” I asked him.  At first he was shocked, and then we started talking about where Jesus would have been.  I steered clear of any kind of talk about God’s will, but I did ask if he knew of a more perfect example of Jesus’ sacrifice than what his young man had done for him and his team.  We talked about the love of God, and that Jesus was with him then and with him now, and he was lightened.  And God began the process of releasing him.   

We had been talking about forgiveness, and were preparing a powerful forgiveness ceremony,  writing the names of people, places and things — including God! — that we needed and wanted to forgive and feel the release.  The names were written on special paper, and dropped into a tub of water.  As one of the clergy stirred the water, the paper dissolved, disappearing into the cloudy water. 

Following Jesus is about seeking the Lord, and seeking forgiveness.  There’s real life out there, no matter our circumstances.  It’s not a one-time event for most of us, but a leading, a trusting, a moving step by step with Jesus.  (Proverbs 3: 5-6)


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