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Kairos recruits for 'inside weekend' event

Pasquotank Kairos Prison Ministry

Ron Beitzel, right, addresses the attendees of a recruitment breakfast for Kairos Prison Ministry, held at Church of the Redeemer in Camden on Saturday. The ministry is planning another "inside weekend" for Pasquotank Correctional Institution. Slated for early May, it will offer faith and friendship to inmates.

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Monday, March 18, 2019

Kairos Prison Ministry is recruiting the faithful for its next weekend inside Pasquotank Correctional Institution, where it will continue working to rekindle inmates' hope and remind them of God's love.

“You really see over the weekend how God literally changes people's lives,” said Ron Beitzel, chair of Kairos' advisory council for PCI, during a recruitment breakfast on Saturday at the Church of the Redeemer in Camden. The event drew dozens looking to support Kairos' 38th “inside weekend” in PCI, which is slated for May 2-5, according to Kairos' website.

During the inside weekends, Kairos volunteers offer not only words of faith, but of friendship, to several dozen inmates. The weekends often lead some inmates to attend regular “prayer and share” sessions, and help them find more peace as they serve their sentences, Beitzel and other volunteers explained on Saturday.

Bill Bailey, 87, is a long-time Kairos volunteer and pastor at Trinity Baptist Fellowship Church in Elizabeth City. Kairos is dedicated to reaching people, he explained, and reminding them of God's unconditional love.

“He may hate what you've done, but he never hates you,” Bailey said, describing some of Kairos' message.

Steve MacDonald similarly said Kairos works to take the love of Christ to marginalized people. Having committed serious crimes and serving long sentences, inmates often feel isolated and shunned, he said. Their wives may divorce them and their families may disown them, he said. Kairos tries to remind them they're not forgotten, and encourages them to establish a “Christian community” within the prison, he said.

MacDonald also said he's seen how the inside weekends change inmates, and get them to open up. On the first night, there's a “herd mentality” and inmates are very guarded and closed up. By the final day, however, they've opened up and are even hugging, he said.

Joe Stuter has served with Kairos in both Pasquotank and Bertie correctional institutions, and said he's seen Kairos lead even a hardened gang member to convert to Christianity.

Dave Taylor, a Naval veteran, said there are “so many blessings” that come with serving in Kairos, and called the work very rewarding. Even inmates who aren't Christians may leave the weekend with some restored hope, he said.

Taylor also said there's a misconception Kairos is trying to get inmates out of prison; it's not, he said. He's worked with inmates serving life sentences, and simply tried to bring God's love to them, he said.

Kairos' inside weekends also take a lot of outside support, and Beitzel and other volunteers welcomed that support as well.

Donna Beitzel, Beitzel's wife, said she works with outside teams, and explained her work also includes supporting the families of inmates. Family members are not only embarrassed of their loved ones being in prison, but may even face ostracism in the community, she said.

Also at Saturday's breakfast was PCI Chaplain David Crumpler, who praised Kairos' almost 20 years' of service to the prison.

Crumpler also said there are many types of faith-based outreach into prisons, but Kairos stands out for its sustained, year-round involvement with inmates.

“You'll have the inmates say, 'these people are real,'” Crumpler said.

While Kairos is a Christian ministry, Crumpler also said its success lies in emphasizing relationships more than evangelism.

Crumpler also said anyone interested in volunteering for Kairos should have a personal commitment to God and a strong desire to make a difference in people's lives.

MacDonald encouraged anyone interested in more information about Kairos in Pasquotank, including joining an inside weekend, to visit its website at kairospcinc.org.

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