Do You Ever Feel Restricted By The Kairos Riverbanks?


Kairos Prison Ministry International is an ecumenical ministry that is closely governed by what they call in the red manual the Kairos Riverbanks. Everything that is done during the 3-day weekend must fall inside of and be governed by the ‘riverbanks’. These are the international guidelines that must be adhered to when ministering inside any prison by any group of people.

As a believer myself, I have a passion to see people get touched by the Spirit of God and they certainly do when the Holy Spirit shows up. I am accustomed to laying on hands and praying for healing when opportunity arises but this is one of the things that is not allowed by the riverbanks. There are other restrictions that are placed on the weekend by the individual prisons as well and its somewhat amazing to me how, in spite of the many things that we seem limited by, that the Holy Spirit would have permission to even show up never mind demonstrate the power of the Kingdom. Don’t miss understand, I get why the boundaries are in place and the importance of their value, but they can just seem so limiting at times causing tension and friction when they are not followed or honored properly.

I have found that the tension, friction and the need for control to follow the riverbanks is what prevents the Holy Spirit from doing what He does best. However, He seems to come and transform hearts, minds, bodies and lives within the boundaries of the riverbanks despite our efforts at perfection.

With this in mind, I begin to think about the River of God and saw that it too is contained by ‘banks’, it wouldn’t be a river without them and again, they are necessary. It is God working inside of His own boundaries, not being hindered but rather on a course of destiny allowing His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven in the lives of people.

In reality, the riverbanks in Kairos is a way of releasing and not hindering the Holy Spirit. Regardless of the rule, He always provides a way to give what is needed, without ignoring or breaking the rules. For example, in a team meeting where the ‘laying on of hands’ is not permitted, one can hold a person’s hand while praying for healing without praying in a way that might be taken as inappropriate. When I was on a weekend in a prison in North Carolina, one of the rules was not to inquire about resident’s family members. Yet, every time I was around this particular resident, I kept getting the impression of a young boy! It didn’t leave me and I felt it was regarding this woman’s son, but I was not allowed to ask her about it.  So, I asked the Lord instead, what He wanted me to do with what He kept showing me? Eventually, I told her, I kept getting a picture of a young boy when I was around her. She quickly responded, “Oh! that must be my son!” I knew that was my in, but had no idea that it would lead to one of the most powerful times of ministry I have ever experienced in Kairos. Her heart was breaking over not hearing from her son in many years.  I literally saw her face change after a few minutes of prayer, when she suddenly, exclaimed….”He touched me – it doesn’t hurt anymore!” Everyone in the gym saw the transformation as she went from heaviness, pain and tears to literally, laughing and dancing in her new freedom.  It was from that and other similar experiences I have learned when He wants to touch someone to bring Heaven to Earth, He’s not bound by any rule. Interestingly enough, the Holy Spirit is not only the river, but He is also the riverbank.

If we seek Him to know what to do with what we are given by His Spirit, then we too are not bound by rules either. What does bind us however, is the distraction caused by tension, friction and the need for control in making sure no one goes out of the riverbanks!  The distraction causes us to not only miss opportunities but hinders His will from being done on earth as it is in Heaven. It takes our eyes off of Him, fills our hearts with things NOT of the Spirit and reduces the power and love of the weekend, but thank God, He doesn’t fail to show up even when we do get a bit distracted. Staying within the Kairos riverbanks, while keeping our eyes on the Spirit increases His presence for an even more powerful, life changing weekend for everyone!

Tell me your thoughts and experiences with the Kairos riverbanks? Have they always been good or have you been a little frustrated when having to stay within the boundaries?

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2 thoughts on “Do You Ever Feel Restricted By The Kairos Riverbanks?”

  1. John W. Elliott Jr.

    I was called to the ministry in 2012. I can’t begin to tell you how the red manual and the river banks have impacted my own walk with Jesus Christ. I lead Kairos #30 at Dooly State Prison. We tell the participants that we get as much out of these weekends as they do. Ill admit it, I am a Kairos junkie. I am so grateful to Jehovah God for giving me a servant’s heart for these men who are incarcerated. We could somehow use the red manual concepts to witness to a lost and dying world like we are able to share the love of Christ inside the prison. Just think how missionaries on the field could benefit from say using the riverbanks as a tool to guide the lost just as we do. What an awesome God we serve!!

    1. Hi John! Thanks for commenting on my post. I, too am a Kairos Junkie and love Lee Arrendale State Prison. My heart is with those ladies and I love the Kairos community I serve with. My 10 years with Karios has certainly been an eye opener and life changer for which I am so grateful!

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