From Friday, Oct. 20 through Sunday, Oct. 22, twelve young men from the Southwest Oklahoma Juvenile Center (SWOJC) participated in the Kairos Torch No. 25 Weekend event.
Kairos Torch is a program under the auspices of Kairos Prison Ministry. The Torch program is designed for juvenile offenders. Participation in religious activities is voluntary at SWOJC; youth were given the option of applying to the program in September. The final number of juvenile participants is determined by the number of Kairos Torch volunteers who make a six month commitment as a mentor to one young man.
The Weekend event highlights several topics highly relevant to youth in juvenile detention or correction facilities: conversations are had about the metaphorical masks people wear to hide their thoughts and feelings, the choices that can be made in life and who is trustworthy. The Christian-based messaging aims to challenge youth to see themselves in a positive light and to work towards making better choices.
In addition to working with a select number of participants, the Torch volunteers extend their generosity to the whole facility through their “cookie ministry.” Throughout the Weekend event, volunteers assembled bags of cookies for the residents and staff and distributed them to the living units as a demonstration of their encouragement and support.
The Torch program began in September 2000 at SWOJC. The Manitou program has frequently been used as a model for new programs in the United States and internationally. During the recent Weekend, three observers from other Kairos programs attended. Gary Grieg, the Kairos Prison Ministry International South African National Coordinator, joined the group at SWOJC. Mr. Grieg commented that it was “very uplifting and inspiring to see the youth so accepting and so willing to participate and be attentive in all the activities.”
Following the Weekend event, each young man was paired with a volunteer mentor. Mentors will meet with their mentees once a week. After the initial six month period, any young man who is still at the facility will be invited to attend a weekly Bible Study led by the group.
Kairos Torch volunteers are extraordinarily dedicated to the young men at SWOJC. Mentors continue to be a positive influence and participants enjoy regular visits from the team. Staff has also noticed the positive support offered by Torch and is grateful for the hard work and encouragement that they offer to everyone at SWOJC.
For more information about Kairos Torch, visit http://www.kairosprisonministry.org/.
For questions about the Southwest Oklahoma Juvenile Center and how to become involved as a volunteer, call Maggie Dawson, Volunteer Services Specialist, at 580-397-2615.