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:
“We on the outside take so much for granted and to be here and see the
Spirit moving among this community is a beautiful thing to witness.” (a
team member reflecting on her experience at a “Faith & Life” retreat
held at Montana Women’s Prison).
We recently had your Kogudus group come through our prison (James River Correction Center) here in Jamestown, N.D. This is the 5th time I have had the opportunity to attend the retreat. Each and every time is an amazing spirit-filled experience. Joy McSparron is such a wonderful person and coordinator making most of the time we have to spend with them (the team) in the Word of God. They offer such hope for us to know people outside these walls are still kind and accepting to us.
I didn’t know how to fill out the back of the donation envelope; but please accept this tithing check for the support of your prison outreach group that they might be able to continue for as long as the Lord desires. I only wish I could help more. God bless you all.
Your brother in Christ,
(an inmate at JRCC)
Sojourners in Recovery
The following comments were all made by inmates who took part in the “Sojourners 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)
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)
“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 gave me hope to what my future can look like if I keep on the right
path” (an inmate at Montana Women’s Prison).
“How loved this retreat made me feel. It gave me confidence and courage to do something I never did before…the love of Jesus Christ is truly with all of you!”
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.
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
“It was a pleasure to be part of the Women’s Fall Kogudus. It was a perfect setting for spiritual renewal – falling leaves, sunny skies, warm fireplace and Christian female companions. It’s so nice to take a break and concentrate on what is really important in life – God’s wonderful world and His love for us. The compassion felt among fellow Christians was heart-warming. I felt renewed. (Diane L. in Illinois)
One of our grandchildren is having sleep issues, so to help him, they disrupt his sleep pattern during the night. To me, that’s what this one day (event) was. It disrupted the daily routine and God used it to Reset. (Valerie A. in Illinois)
It was a good day for Retreat from the rest of the world, to renew friendships and Refresh ourselves to God’s purposes for us. Even with just a few of us great fellowship happened. Our singing sounded pretty good. We sang our joy in Fellowship with God and each other! I felt good about singing our praises. it was a wonderful day! (Janice M. in
‘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