Harlequin Inn & Silverwater Jail

I thought I would tell you about my day yesterday. Sam Boog and I had a terrific time at the Halequin Inn at Pyrmont for our Tuesday lunchtime Christians in the Media meeting – with good attendance – new faces – and I spoke on Daniel being thrown into the blazing furnace.’

Last night I was guest speaker at Silverwater Jail. It was my first time in jail. I had to go through a rigorous security check several weeks ago to be allowed in.

I was picked up by a couple of the regular Kairos ministry guys. I hadn’t reflected on the fact that it’s an all male prison – and hence and all male ministry.

About 25 guys met in the car park outside the jail at 5pm – I as the guest speaker was the only non regular member – most of the team members are 55+ and most come every week.

We weren’t allowed to have green clothes on. Why? I thought? Once inside the answer became clear – all the inmates only have green.

We were ushered through security and into a meeting area. There were about 40 coffee tables fixed to the floor and numbered. Around each table were five or six chairs also bolted to the floor.

The guys set up PA, drinks, dessert, coffee. And after a few minutes about ten inmates arrived and joined us to pray.

When the evening proper started there were about 40 inmates and 25 team members.

The evening was chaired by an inmate with four months to go, another inmate performed a solo song, there were two congregational songs, sung grace, and a bible reading of all of Mark 6 – read by five different inmates.

I discovered that KAIROS runs a four day intensive program twice a year for inmates, and then once the inmates have done that program they are welcome at the weekly meetings.

However each month one of these weekly meetings is turned over to evangelism – and this was what happened last night.

I spoke from Mark 6 as requested – a talk about Jesus feeding the 5000 – meeting not just our physical needs – but more importantly our spiritual ones.

The speakers are working though Mark’s gospel each week – Al Stewart from Wollongong spoke the previous two weeks and Simon Manchester from North Sydney will be up for the next two weeks.

I was really encouraged by several conversations with inmates who have clearly significantly grown in Christ in their time in jail.

There was a real mixture of blokes there – some in jail for crimes of violence other’s in jail for white collar crimes. Some guilty some (without knowing too much) I think probably there unfairly.

Several were quite a few guys there last night who weren’t Christian.

KAIROS at Silverwater clearly is run by godly guys who are doing an excellent job.

It was great to see the way the tone changed in the room – as we sang Christian songs. The music wasn’t funky – but wow – it was good to be singing the truths of the gospel with guys who really had it clear what sin was.

As I was asked about forgiveness in the question time – I was very aware that the question was in no way abstract – and I needed to give a 'very grounded in reality' answer.

I met a guy – in for corruption in local government – and I told him about one of my heros – Charles Colson – jailed for his part in Watergate – and that I would mail him Colson’s biography.

In the car on the way home I was encouraged to hear from the other two guys from my suburb who go regularly the stories of how people have changed significantly in the KAIROS program.

Apparently the prison authorities really like KAIROS because the percentage of people who have done KAIROS who reoffend is way down on the average.

However disappointingly we tend to not meet many KAIROS graduates in our churches. I was told by the jail chaplain and the guys in the car that more work needs to be done in helping Christian ex jail inmates reintegrate into church life on exit.

I am looking forward to meeting up with the two new brothers in Christ, that I met in jail last night, when they are on the outside in December.