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Step up to the Plate

Many people in this world aren't afraid of the unknown, or what other people think. In fact, they're willing to step out of their comfort zone, just to see what everyone is so afraid of. For a moment they get to experience the everyday routine of those living in "gated communities.” With them they deliver bright rays of light to places known for their allegoric darkness. They may come in as strangers, but with time and consistency they become family. These brave men and women are called volunteers.

Volunteers are vital to prisons. From my own experience, it was a volunteer who visited me years ago in jail. That same person led me to Christ. Over the years I've met many people from different walks of life. They've all played a part in discipling me as a follower of Jesus.

I was introduced to the Kairos ministry back in 2011, and had the experience of a lifetime when I went through the "four day walk". When you hear the name Kairos, anybody in prison associates this ministry with cookies... and more cookies. This is true, but during those four days I saw men who truly love Jesus, and they loved me too.

Did we stuff aur faces silly? Yes! My spirit was fed also. The fellowship was like nothing I've ever experienced. These guys weren't there because their church made them come, they wanted to be there. Whether in prison or society, I’ll forever be a Kairos member. Kairos is a Greek word, which means “God’s special time.”

Not all volunteers come to share the gospel. There are many who come to teach many different skills, or to help educate those studying for a GED. Two of my most favorite volunteers came from the Emry’s Foundation in Greenville S.C. I met them in 2011, and they conducted a writing class. We named our group "The Writers Block”, and in 2014 we published a book titled "Didn't See it Coming”. We had the wonderful opportunity to have an open mic for the book, and at the end we had a book signing, It's a moment I’ll never forget, and my sister was there to share it with me.

There are also volunteer led ministries and groups who are more than willing to help men and women transition into society. Groups like "Jump Start" have countless testimonies of men who have transitioned and are doing well. They provide housing, employment, and the transforming power of Jesus.

Even as a "lifer" I take every opportunity there is to become a better version of myself.

Volunteers have been a big part of my growth. We need volunteers, but currently Covid-19 has been the achilles heel in most prisons or maybe it could be an excuse. Where I'm currently housed there have been no volunteer led programs. Church services have been taking place, and recently there has been only one Kairos reunion. Staff members can spread the virus just like a volunteer, so what's the issue?

Volunteering in a prison may not be for you, but you will never know until you give it a chance. You could be the difference that changes a life. Incarcerated men and women need so much, a listening ear, a father figure, teachers, coaches, lawyers, law makers, business owners, and the list goes on.

If you watch TV, there are so many shows that make money from crime, and the penal system. Shows like "60 Days In" only focus on entertaining and all the negative issues of incarceration. The people that go under cover on this show are everyday people. Why won’t everyday people take a chance to come inside to make it better? Yes, this is a place for punishment, but the person who comes inside for breaking the law should leave a better man. This starts with the individual, but we need help from the community and our future neighbors.

Colin is serving life in prison but takes every opportunity to make a difference in the world he lives in. Maybe society can learn from those who have been thrown away and forgotten about. The volunteers that come in to bring hope to a hopeless situation are truly heros.

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