Most of you know that I serve in Kairos Prison Ministry. One of the elements of the ministry is to give each inmate a cross at the end of their 3-day weekend to commemorate this special time. These crosses are wooden and have the Kairos Logo laser imprinted on the front and the words “Christ is Counting on Me” on the back. They are highly treasured by each inmate.
Last weekend we were scheduled to hold Kairos #14 at Lowell CI in Marion County, Florida. The weekend team leader had not yet received the crosses she had ordered, so she called the National office the week before, only to find that due to a manufacturing issue these crosses were on back order. This was very disappointing, as this is one of the high points of the weekend.
She was told that there were some broken crosses available if she was interested in gluing them together. Not happy about that option, but having no other, she agreed to try that.
On the Thursday morning of our weekend we met early to tie up loose ends before the start of the weekend. The leader showed me the bag of broken crosses and I commenced to glue 24 together. As I did, the Lord began to speak to me about the broken lives that these crosses would be going to. I was praying for the inmates, as I glued each cross together.
After I had finished with all 24, I looked at each one and could see that a fracture line was still obvious. I had hoped that the repair would be so precise that the fact that they had once been broken would not be obvious. But, although the mend was strong, the “scar” was still visible.
From the start of the weekend on Thursday night, the presence of Holy Spirit was strong. Each day after that, His presence remained with us and lives were strengthened and restored. At the closing on Sunday each inmate was presented with their Weekend Cross. Nothing was said about the broken crosses.
Yesterday, the team returned to hold our 4th Day Instructional. The purpose of this is to give the inmates the tools to begin regularly meeting together to support, pray for and encourage one another in their walk with Jesus. As the inmates came in I could see that each one was wearing their Kairos Cross.
I walked over to one of the inmates who had been sitting in my Table Family on the weekend to welcome her and inquire about her week. Soon she remarked that she had noticed that her cross was broken and was it possible for her to get a replacement. I told her that there were no more and that in fact they had all been broken, but we had glued them together. She graciously excepted that.
As I sat through out the Instructional I began to think about these precious women and what message they might have received in the getting of a broken cross. Many of these women are use to getting “leftovers and hand-me-downs” all their lives. And often that is how they perceive themselves, as only worthy of other peoples’ trash.
I begin to see the message God wanted them to receive in the broken cross and when the Instructional was completed I asked the leader if I could share for a few minutes.
As I looked out upon the faces of these precious women whom I had come to love in such a short time, God gave me these words.
“Ladies, when you arrived on the Thursday evening of your weekend would you say that “broken” would be a pretty good description of the state you were in?”
They answered in the affirmative. Then I shared this.
“ I’m sure that by now you have all noticed that your crosses have been mended.” There was much head nodding. “The reason for this is that Kairos crosses are on back order and there are none available. Our only option was to fix these or to not give you a cross. Originally I was heartbroken that you were going to get a broken cross, but then through the Holy Spirit I saw the gift he was giving you. These crosses represent what you were on Thursday night and what you are now. You came to the weekend broken, but you left “fixed”. Each time you look at your cross, remind yourself of the fact that you are “broken no longer”.
There were many tears now and several inmates shared. One shared that she had noticed the break and thought, “Well I guess that’s all I’m worth, but when I get out I will order a new one from the National office” Then she said. “But now this is the only cross I want. I was broken and now I’m fixed.”
As I drove home Holy Spirit continued to speak to me about the powerful message in “the Broken Cross”. He reminded me that Jesus’ broken body hung on the cross for all of our salvation and that without his brokenness we would all be lost. He also showed me once again the scars that Jesus bore in his body were still present after his resurrection in his hands and his side. (I’m sure his back too.) So the “scar” on the Kairos Crosses were to remind the inmates of where they had been, but were no more.
I will never forget the message of “The Broken Crosses” and how God can use our own brokenness to heal the brokenness in others. I have learned that what we often perceive as less than perfect and unacceptable, is just what God wants from us to bring about restoration and healing. Let me be a “Broken Cross” for some one in need.