The Greek word for time is chronos, except when referring to that supreme moment when someone opens to positive forces and experiences a core shift. That word is kairos—God’s time. A program termed Kairos Prison Ministry creates such moments for some of the worst offenders in our prison system. The facilitators within the program are not professionals, but lay persons who meet training requirements and are fully present for an extended weekend intensive with offenders.

Shifting from chronos to kairos necessitates a suspension of what normally drives our behavior. One must use memory to remember the truth instead of the past. The truth is that change is possible. It does not mean the past did not happen or that it is made OK. It just provides an interval of clear space where something different can happen instead of bondage to what was.

The ministry reminds inmates that things do not always have to be as they always have been—and we would do well to learn this lesson as well. The possibility of change teases most minds when a new year begins, giving rise to resolutions that generally fare poorly over time. This should not discourage us. Any percentage of success attests to the truth that change occurs.

“If we don’t change direction soon, we’ll end up where we’re going.”

— Professor Irwin Corey