We would like to thank all of you who have prayed for us over the weekend while we were in Smith state prison. As Randy explains in his summary the National Geographic did a documentary on this prison last year due to it's violence, since then there has been changes in the guard and there seems to be a movement of God there with a warden and Chaplin who have a mission to see each inmate have a personal relationship with Jesus. It was awesome seeing God's hand at work with the Holy Spirit changing lives. Below is a video link by Frank Logue, to some testimonials from the outside team, and a written summary from Randy Ashurst.
With love and thanks
God came down and was glorified at Smith State prison this weekend.
Kairos #1 is over and this was a wonderful weekend for all involved.
But, just like Emmaus these weekends don't just occur. They take about a year of praying, planning, and strength, on many people's parts, to step up and say "here I am Lord." First of all, thank you to our Emmaus community for the strong prayer support and next of all, I want to trumpet that this total scene, for months back, was truly a ":God Thing", for so many reasons. First of all, our team did not have a prison to go to. We tried getting in one in Jesup, and after a few negotiations got word that basically said "there's too much church going on already" and "not enough room for your program." That meant this was not the right place God wanted for us. So, it was back to more prayer and then about 7 months ago, a warden and chaplain landed at Smith State Prison in Glennville with the mission of taking back the yard - one soul at a time. You see, these men are strong Christians and they know that without Christ, taking charge, there's little change for the better. The wheels started turning and the rest is "on the air" as they say in radio.
The "spirit" throughout the weekend was near unexplainable and new members on the team got to be witnesses to numerous miracles, just as the veterans did. How can this all work? Here's a level 5 prison, the next thing lower than "death row," and yet the Spirit came in and rocketed thru so many hearts. Imagine, praise music with about 80 men in a room belting out "Make Me a Sanctuary" and "Lord I Lift Your Name on High." I believe we all saw hearts that were so far beyond the razor wire in those moments. In a word, it's breathtaking. Here's a facility with 1400 residents that's had over 400 stabbings in two years. You may have seen the National Geographic series "Hard Time" featuring this same "dark" place. Yet, for months we've gone in, met the Kairos graduates there (having been through the Kairos program at other prisons), and formed the team and dorm accountability leaders. And, both councils starting working hard to get the weekend going and right on schedule. I must note the job the inside team did was outstanding and totally noteworthy. As one could say "They Rocked!"
Just like Emmaus; what a bonding experience the work is. It seems every moment there was covered in smiles, hugs, and love. Of course Kairos is called God's Special Time and it was. I gotta tell you about the final ceremonies (closing). The chaplain and warden both got on the podium and fully revved up the entire building forcefully proclaimg their mission from day one was that they are gong to win this "yard and compound for Christ -That Satan is now banished from here." We all know about the "open mic" segment and while there were many startling and wonderful testimonies, one, though, will touch me for a very long while. A man came to the podium, said he was 45yrs old, and this week, had done something he had never ever done in his entire life. Visibly shaken, he said "I cried." The table family rushed to support him and hold him up in love. And, the room erupted in cheers and applause. The strength, integrity, and presence of that statement. All I can say was it was a God thing ; For a grown man, in a place like that, to lay oneself that bare, and tell how so much rage, hate, and fear, was gone, and he could now cry tears of love and forgiveness. The love in that room and electricity of the scene will be long remembered by all present. Well,we all serve an awesome God who can reconcile and change anything for His glory.
Oh, a final two things that shows how God blessed this time. First of all, due to so many many of you, at so many churches, baking homade cookies, we took inside over 1200 Dozen cookies. For the first time I've heard of, the cookies were disbursed thru the entire facility to all residents and staff. The chaplain reported to us when he went Saturday evening to the dorms to present "call out sheets," which allows participants to go the next morning -said he was "ambushed" at every dorm by men all excited about Kairos; shouting:"when's the next one? and when can I sign up?" Christians wonder if they can be a witness and how to do it. In Kairos it is basically this: "I stand with you, and Christ who got here long before I did, stands with you also." It's pretty simple and so powerful , and when it happens, and you see lives changed, you can't help but feel it. Oh yea,you'll feel it.
The next one; Kairos #2, comes up next May, and we'll be in touch again asking for prayers, people. and of course cookies. Meanwhile, please continue to pray for the men inside. Pray for the staff, warden, and chaplain, to continue and magnify this movement for Jesus Christ, our Lord.
Randy Ashurst, blissfully reporting from home, for the new startup Kairos at Smith State Prison - Glennville, GA