Comments from Those Who Have Attended
The following comments are taken from evaluations submitted by those who have participated in Kogudus weekend retreats and one-day seminars:
Pilgrims in Recovery
The following comments were all made by inmates who took part in the “Pilgrims in Recovery” retreats held at Prisons:
“(I appreciated) feeling all the love in such a forsaken place…(and)
being blessed by all the wonderful volunteers” an inmate at James River
Correctional Center in N.D.
“I loved that the 12 Steps were made faith-based. I think that will
make it easier to do treatment too” an inmate at the Dakota Women’s
Correctional and Rehabilitation Center in N.D.
“Bless you all for coming to us ladies at DWCRC as most of us struggle
with addictions” an inmate in N.D.
LAMENT & LAUGHTER Retreat
The following comments were all made by inmates who took part in the “Lament and Laughter” retreats held at Prisons:
The volunteers were so patient and understanding. Really helped us understand and answered all our questions. They made us feel worthwhile and let us know there is hope. (ND)“(I appreciated) the feeling of freedom in Christ.” an inmate. (MT)
The laughter…helps heal the pain. (ND)“This retreat pulled me out of my dark thinking and out of the darkness
were I was trapped; and you all brought me back into the light with the
faith you have and the Word of the Lord; so thank you! (an inmate MT)
It was incredible…the flow of love that was present. The Holy Spirit was welcome. It was a great blessing. (ND)“Thank you, each of you, for reminding me of my forever family.” (an inmate MT)
I appreciate so much the warm friendliness of all the Kogudus staff…sharing the message of God’s mercies and love. I enjoyed the new format…all of the singing and music, and the opportunity to participate in the Bible study discussions. The Bible says that “His word will not return unto us void,” and you may not ever know the full impact for good that your efforts have had. (ND)
Please don’t ever stop what you do because you do massively help out the ones in need (a young man who was baptized at a “Lament & Laughter” retreat). (ND)
What a blessing! The group Bible study time was POWERFUL…This (experience) was especially wonderful to me. Not only because my release is soon, but because I again realized God-fearing, true Christians really do love. Despite our failures and faults people do forgive. Through each and every one of you I have learned so much and grown in God. I now desire to be involved in Prison/Jail Outreach Ministry. Your love and commitment planted a seed which God is growing in me. THANK YOU! KEEP ON COMING! (ND)
(I appreciated) the opportunity to be open with other Christians, (because) in prison you must keep up a state of alert and can show no weakness. I was able to share and listen as well as participate in in-depth conversations on faith. Something we cannot do or do not get an opportunity to do on this scale or at all. (ND)
“This retreat was the best I’ve ever been to. I really needed this time to reflect and worship in a community setting. The people were wonderful, kind, loving, caring.” (ND)
“It makes me feel special knowing that someone actually cares for a person like me, someone who has made so many mistakes…” (ND)
“I appreciated being treated like a person instead of a criminal.” (ND)
PEOPLE CARE Retreat (for those who have suffered loss)
The following comments are taken from evaluations submitted by those who have participated in Kogudus weekend retreats and one day seminars:
PEOPLE CARE (for those who have suffered loss from death, divorce, declining health, financial set-back, mental illness):
People were so caring and open and shared so much of themselves and their feelings, sorrows and hopes. It was very helpful to me personally because people were so affirming; and I felt the presence of God among us and felt more hopeful about recovery.
I was very moved by the depth of sharing. The leadership was wonderful – it was informative and yet left much time for personal sharing & insight. As far as the congregation – it can spur understanding and a new depth of caring among participants. I would love to see another “People Care” retreat at St. Paul’s again…
All congregations need more of this kind of education.
…an opportunity to reflect on the traumas of my life; how to evaluate and come to terms with these events in my Christian community. I like the positive and supportive tone of the retreat. I also enjoyed the focus of how I can return to my church and extend this ministry within the congregation.
…the openness of everyone. It gave me the right to grieve/lament. We can personally pass along what we’ve experienced.
I appreciate all of the small group & large group interactions. It was a healing experience. It would be a huge help for congregations because I believe everyone has a loss/brokenness which they wish to be healed.
You all let me cry & grieve what has been deep inside my heart, mind & soul…a precious gift.
I will be participating in church activities more…
“FAITH AND LIFE” IN PRISON Retreat
(The following comments are taken from evaluations submitted by inmates and team members at the end of the retreat):
It was a great pleasure taking communion with people beyond the walls. I always feel a joy when I get together with fellow Christians and get to fellowship. I enjoyed the love that was expressed towards myself and fellow inmates. I truly feel blessed to have met everyone in the group.
This retreat was totally awesome! I liked all the talks because they led me back to God. I especially like the communion because…the feeling I got was like ‘my child, you are home; so share your tears of joy and give your pain to me.
I feel like I’ve spent the weekend with true family and friends.
I appreciate these brothers and sisters coming in from the outside to spend the entire weekend with us. This really strengthened my faith. I feel closer to Christ. This has really encouraged me to want to go to church when I get out.
…the sharing of Christ without prejudice. Amen.
I enjoyed the presentations as a basis for starting up conversation and giving us direction to talk…centered on Christ.
Without your ministry it would be so very easy to lose one’s spirit within the walls. So I thank you from the center-core of my heart and soul. I will remember this Kogudus Retreat for all Eternity.“I have been set aflame in Christ; and thanks to Kogudus I shall burn bright for all to see.”
CONTRAST COMMUNITY Retreat
“I want you to know what I felt in that place (Montana State Prison) for three days: Peace, Contentment, Joy, THE SENSE OF GOD’S PRESENCE.”
A team member at Montana State Prison
“Thank you for coming and introducing me to Christ. It’s been a blessing.”
An inmate at Montana Women’s Prison
FAITH AND LIFE Retreat
‘I’ve never been a very social person. I usually find being around groups of people to be scary and stressful. So I was apprehensive about attending anything with this many people. But from the moment I got here, I learned these aren’t people at all. These are friends and brothers, from all walks of life, coming together in Christian love. It was such a wonderful atmosphere to be a part of. It was not scary. And it was not stressful. It was a privilege and a delight. And I’m thankful I got to be a part of it.’ – attendee at Women’s Retreat in IL
Otto T. Habedank