“ Changing Hearts, Transforming Lives, Impacting the World”
Kairos Torch offers unconditional love and acceptance, encouraging young men and women to share their life journey through participation in a long term mentoring process. The program begins with a weekend retreat inside the prison. Torch team members commit to a weekly mentoring process with the youthful offenders for six months after the weekend.
Crime among youthful offenders is the most rapidly growing segment of corrections. The number of institutions for youthful offenders has doubled since 1995. This presents a unique opportunity for the Church to be physically present in ministry to this segment of the incarcerated community. Kairos has developed Kairos Torch to facilitate ministry to youthful offenders.
Kairos Torch is an introductory two-day program for youth ages 25 and under who live in juvenile detention or correctional facilities. The weekend is a combined effort of an ecumenical, Kairos Torch Team to introduce young men and women to Christian concepts as a means of making better choices for their lives.
An ecumenical Christian team presents 72 hours of intense interaction with incarcerated youth. There is good food, music, and time to reflect on who they really are. Each young person is encouraged to remove the masks that they wear and see themselves as God sees them. After the Kairos Torch Weekend each inmate participant will be mentored for six (6) months. The mentoring is done by the volunteer members of the Kairos Torch Team. As a mentor you will be trained and provided with a mentoring manual that guides the mentor and mentee through the mentoring program. You will not be alone. There are plenty of experienced hands to guide you. The Christian centered mentoring is conducted with the rest of the Team in one of the juvenile or correctional facilities.
Through unconditional love and affirmation the incarcerated youth will begin to see themselves as God sees them: as unique, special, and created in the image of God. With their masks off they will be better able to make positive choices for their lives. This will, in time, decrease the violence in our cities and begin to relieve crowded prisons.
For each young person who does not reoffend, society gains a productive citizen instead of the $31,371.75 per year cost it takes to house a prisoner. This is the vision of the Kairos Torch weekend and mentoring program. Ask a current Kairos Torch volunteer, they will tell you of the many success stories, of young men and women who have applied the lessons learned in Kairos Torch to their lives and are now free in the world.
These goals are accomplished through the vehicle of a weekend Christian retreat followed up by a continuing ministry that includes weekly one-on-one mentoring of the youth by Kairos volunteers and monthly group reunions with the Kairos community. The most important element of Torch is the establishment of a mentoring relationship between each of the youth and a mature, Christian Kairos volunteer. The mentoring program goes on for a minimum of 6 months or until the youthful offender is released, whichever occurs first.
The mission of Kairos Torch on the introductory weekend is to encourage the participants to remove their masks so the real person, rather than who they pretend to be, can shine forth. The mission of the weekend is also to show participants it is safe to make friends, the importance of positive support groups, as well as how to form groups themselves. Groups (as opposed to gangs) give the participants a viable option to isolation.
A Quick Look at Kairos Torch
Kairos Torch provides a 2½ day Christ-centered experience.
Kairos Torch is primarily for youthful offenders, and is clearly appropriate for those institutions classified as Youthful Offender Facilities, housing youths age 13-19. The program may also be used in adult institutions where first offense, younger prisoners are held.
Kairos Torch is ecumenical in nature, striving for denominational balance among the team.
Kairos Torch is financially self-supporting as are all Kairos programs.
Team members are recruited from among those who have a heart for working with the youth and commitment to mentor them over a significant span of time.
Team members come from church communities and their well-balanced lives will reflect their Christian values.
Every team includes a clergy, who acts as spiritual leader.
A Torch weekend is designed to minister to 18 to 30 participants. The Torch team is made up of 30 to 45 volunteers, depending on the number of residents who attend.