Costa Rica 2015 – Part 2

Prison SignTo say that prison in Costa Rica Is different from prison in Alabama would be an understatement. In Alabama all the inmates wear white. That is what distinguishes them from the officers. In Costa Rica inmates wear their own clothes including caps, bandanas and clothes of all descriptions. In Alabama jewelry (except watches) is strictly forbidden. Not so here. If you have jewelry feel free to wear it. In Alabama inmates are fed by the State. Families are not allowed to bring food into the prison. Here, families bring food once per week on a regularly scheduled day. These are but a few of the differences between the two.

Unfortunately, there are also many similarities, especially among the inmates. They are for the most part young and uneducated. There are two men we’ve gotten to know. One can read and write a little bit; the other man can do neither. Drugs and alcohol compounded by violence have a great deal to do with what brings these men to prison. The drug culture is just as much a problem here as it is in Alabama. I’ve heard these stories so many times now that I’ve lost count.

But there is one other similarity between here and Alabama; many of these men know that if they stay on their current path it will result in a dead end (perhaps literally). They know they need to change and Kairos gives them that opportunity. Only God knows whether or not genuine change will happen in their lives. That is not for us to worry about. Our task is to love as God loves and to show them that there is another way available to them in Jesus Christ. Hopefully they will take that way because it is the way to life, peace and hope that will change their lives forever.

Costa Rica 2015 – Part 1

Prison SignThe Kairos team began its work on Wednesday with a visit to APAC prison. APAC is a faith-based prison run by the Costa Rican prison system. It houses up to 96 men at one time. These are men who have made a conscious decision to change their lives.

There are specific programs to help the men achieve their goal of living successfully in society and not returning to prison. Most of the programs are conducted either by volunteers or inmates. Upon entering the prison we met a retired math teacher who comes four days per week to tutor the men in math. She taught high school math for thirty-one years and has been volunteering at the prison for eight years. Her goal is to help the men pass the math proficiency section of their exams. This will help them to receive a diploma like our GED.

We also had the opportunity to attend a worship service.Ben Sherrod, one of the members of our team spoke to the men about the importance of making good choices and focusing their lives on developing a deep relationship with Christ. Our team was able to pray with and for seven men who were ready to give their lives to Christ. We also prayed for the leaders of the small groups. Each man belongs to a small group for accountability, learning and support. These leaders have a great deal of responsibility so it was an honor to meet them and pray for them.

The Kairos weekend starts today (Thursday) and runs through Sunday. We are looking forward to a busy and blessed time.