Serenade at the fence – Such a simple act, such a powerful impact
These comments were made by Keryx participants immediately following the serenade at the fence:
When I saw the candles, it caved my chest in. I couldn’t breathe. The last time I felt like that was when my kids were born.
I’ve never had love like this in my entire life. I’ve never gotten any visits until tonight.
I don’t care how big and tough you are. If that didn’t bring tears to your eyes, nothing will. I’ve been stabbed. I’ve been shot at, but this is the most profound thing that has ever happened to me.
There are no words. Maybe I needed a crisis in my life to wake me up. I’m awake!
I have never felt true love. This is the family I want. Sign me up!
I’ve never felt happiness like this before. This is the greatest birthday in my life!
A very young man said: Someday, I’ll tell my grandchildren this story. This is family.
What God is doing through you is amazing!
I received the best gift I’ve ever gotten.
Just walking on the grass and smelling it. I haven’t walked on grass in a long time.
God showed me that he does exist.
That hit me like a train!
Now I know what Christianity is.
That said hope to me.
I have never been treated so kindly in my life.
This isn’t jail. This is heaven.
People love us!
Believers in Christ are family.
I was crying like a baby. God bless them all. They’re angels.
I’ve never experienced anything like this being sober.
Today, I found family.
Below are excerpts from letters and emails received from former Keryx participants who contacted us after their release:
Hey Keryx family! This is ***** and I am just reaching out to thank you for the love and encouragement you all showed me during some of the toughest times of my life. I am home now and still faithfully serving the Lord Jesus Christ.
God has been awesome to me from day one and it was an honor to meet you guys and fellowship with you. You are all in my prayers as well as the inmates I left behind. If there is any way I can still be a part of the ministry please let me know, I will help in any way that I can.
God bless all of you and once again thank you so much. Please continue to serve the Lord and let Him use you because you make a difference!
To the Keryx team, I think of you all daily and the compassion you have for God’s work. I was honored to share my story again last night. Whenever I speak about my life, I talk about the hate that filled my heart. I talk about my life that was filled with 15 years of hopelessness. It all changed on March 29th when I found God’s love that you showed me. I share that experience when I talk to young men and women (they are all younger at my age) every Sunday at a local rehab. I want others to know what I have felt and how blessed I am today.
After 9 days out of prison, I was in my own place. I have my best friend, a 4 year old male Pit Bull mix who is back with me. I have been given a bed, TV, couch amongst other stuff. I have not ask for any of this stuff. It just keeps coming to me. I have been so blessed. It all goes back to the day I found that I am loved. People do care!
I was hoping to tell you in person this weekend, but this will have to do until the next K, I love you all for what you have done for me and my fellow men. May God Bless you all for what you prepare to do again this weekend. I pray that you touch people as you touched me. I will probably be crying again tears of joy Saturday night as I did 7 months ago.
I am home and doing good. I am back with my old church and have been praying for all of you. I can’t tell you how much everyone with Keryx means to me. Keryx has done so much for me. It was great serving as a steward at Keryx 12 and attending Keryx 11. Thank you so much for all you did for me. I have a meeting next week with Father John who is involved with the prison ministry through my home parish. Hopefully we can make some type of difference. Please tell everyone that I love my Keryx family very much and will never forget how much Keryx had meant to me. You all helped me get through the Gowanda experience. God bless you all.
Hello to my Keryx family, I am doing well. Still trying to adjust to being free. I attended church services last night and have gone to 2 AA meetings since my release on 3/16. I hope all of my brothers and sisters are doing good. I’m praying for you all. I will write again soon. Take care and God bless.
Your Brother in Christ,
ONCE AGAIN THIS YEAR….I joined the kindest, most caring, self-less, devoted Christians….KERYX PRISON MINISTRY. This being the 3rd time I have joined this wonderful group of Western New Yorkers, as they bring the Word of GOD to Gowanda Prison. Twice a year, October & April, this group brings joy and love to those who need it most….Incarcerated Men. Genuine pure hearts, giving up their weekends, spreading the “Good Word” in a world torn apart, and doing what they can to make it a better place through holding a “Retreat” for the Prisoners….who are moved that someone cares this much!
Dear Keryx Family, My name is *****.
I attended K12 at Gowanda CF in April 2015, and went to every Friday night meeting until I was transferred only a month or two later, and eventually sent home in August. I see that Keryx 14 is happening next week. (Has it really been a year already??) So I wanted to just drop you a line and say hello.
It’s so true what the other inmates used to tell me: When you go home, you forget prison almost immediately. Real life pulls you back in so fast that you will wake up in your own bed feeling like it was all just a bad dream. But there are some things you never forget! I never thought in a million years I would have ever ended up in prison. While I tried to keep a brave face, it was the toughest thing I ever went through. Being away from my friends and family for so long; it hits you in ways you can’t even describe.
The Keryx weekend was the shining light in a storm. I will never forget the love that I felt that weekend. I remember telling myself I would not cry during my entire incarceration, but that weekend my little lip was quivering away! You folks could have gone anywhere to spread the good word, you could have gone to much prettier places, and looked at much prettier faces – but you chose to come to Gowanda, you chose to see us! And it meant the world to us! I cannot thank you enough.
On the weekend of April 21-24, 2016, while all of you are together, I plan to take some time away to sit by myself and read through the material from my Keryx weekend, and remember the feeling I had, the feeling of love. I will never forget any of you! Shouting out to John and Dave and Mike for creating such a great group, to all the men and women who blessed us every Friday, and Cliff, your smile was incredibly infectious! Keep it up!
To my brothers who are still incarcerated in Gowanda, and still struggling with parole boards and the day-to-day nonsense of everyday life – stay strong! They can’t keep you forever, and soon you’ll be back with your families, and it will all feel like a bad dream. Trust me on this. Absorb the good things, use the time wisely, keep reading – keep exercising your minds and bodies. You will need that strength soon to rejoin and rebuild your families. And most importantly, keep God close to you at all times. He will get you through it. He did for me.
Please sing one round of “They Will Know We Are Christians by Our Love” and “Thrive” for me this weekend! Those were my favorites! And have an amazing Keryx weekend!
Peace and God bless, and thank you so much again!!
I remember what it is like to feel alone, depressed, and unloved. I have lived for mail call, hoping a letter would come, hoping that someone still cared for me. Hoping that even after everything I have done, that someone still loved me.
I forgot that God was always with me and He loved me no matter what. Maybe I just didn’t forget, maybe I just wanted to keep feeling sorry for myself! As long as I kept feeling that way, I was allowed to be negative and fit in with the others around me.
I remember the date and time this all changed. I remember when all the hate and loneliness left me. I remember when all the excuses disappeared. I remember when the wall fell down and I allowed myself to trust again. I remember when I finally felt free and that moment that I knew what it was like to be loved. I want that moment forever!
Know that I finally got there. I need to remember where it came from. It was God’s grace that gave me my miracle and now, every day, I am truly blessed. Don’t leave until the miracle happens. God will restore your sanity. I know because I believe I am a miracle.