Prison Retreat: Making the Most of Our Giving

Rich here again.
I want to tell you about a prison ministry that I’ve gotten involved in.
As you know, since I finished the Wayuu New Testament project, I haven’t had one specific ministry that I’ve wanted to do. I’ve done some different things through our church—took some men under my wing who have needed a little mentoring, served on the elder board for a while, stuff like that.
I pulled back from those things because they were taking more of my time than I felt like I had to give. Well, that’s not completely true. I didn’t drop the mentorships. I just scaled back a bit on those.
So I had a little more free time and with that I decided to look around for some ministry that worked well with my schedule and my time availability.
I became aware of a prison ministry through an outfit called Chairos. It’s both a Christian and Catholic organization that doesn’t tout itself as either. It’s non-sectarian. That way it can also reach inmates across sectarian lines.
The group’s focus is an on-site weekend retreat for inmates. They can’t leave the prison, so it happens in a meeting room in the facility.
There are five Saturday training days leading up to the weekend retreat. These training days are what I am completing now. I have gone to four of them. I have one left, and then the actual weekend event happens.
The training days have been long, and they take place in a church an hour from home. So the training alone has been quite a commitment.
The prison is almost three hours from home. We leave midday on a Thursday, and then the retreat starts Thursday afternoon. It goes until 7. It’s all day Friday, 7 to 7, all day Saturday, and half the day Sunday.
Our group is giving ten lectures. I’m giving one of them.
Lectures is probably the wrong word. Talks or presentations is more like it.
There are 25 of us going up to do the retreat. I’m not sure how many inmates there will be. I think over 100.
It’s a maximum security prison, but these guys are allowed some leeway I guess because of good behavior or something. So they’re allowed to come to this one room and stay there for the duration of the retreat.
Because the prison is so far from home, I have booked a hotel to stay at for the nights. A friend is going to share the room with me and split the cost.
So that’s what’s coming up. After the retreat is done, my commitment is over. If I wanted to, I could sign up to do another retreat in another prison, but I want to see how this first one goes before I sign up for another one.
I liked this ministry opportunity because it has a finite beginning and end. I’m not signing up for something that will go on forever and that I’ll never be able to gracefully get out of. (Been there, done that!)
I’ll let you know in a later blog how the retreat goes.

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