Setting Captives Free

Eldon & Paula Rynders are people of passion. They have learned to work as a couple and to encourage each other in their strengths. They give each other the freedom to live out their fullest potential for the Kingdom of God.

Paula is a principal at Towngate Elementary in Moreno Valley Unified Schools. She doesn’t see a separation between who she is as a principal and her role as a child of the King. She models Christian principles and makes her decisions by them. She also knows who the prayer warriors are at her school, and they share in a significant, silent work together. Eldon will proudly explain to you how Paula facilitated the mutual caring of her staff for each other during recent budget/staff cuts. There wasn’t a single teacher from her school who went without a job.

Eldon’s full-time job and ministry is working with adults in Special Education. But in 1992, Eldon began working in another field with an organization called Kairos. Their goal is to create a solid Christian community for men in the prison system. The key event of their ministry is a biannual retreat in the prison. It lasts for three and a half days. Usually, there are over forty men there. The whole weekend is filled with spiritual talks, discussion and worship. This is how Eldon describes the effects: “When I see the physical and emotional transformation these guys go through from Thursday to Sunday, I am amazed. They come in tense and burly. By the end, they are hugging each other and crying. They have been touched by grace and love that they have never had before.”

On Saturday night, they finish the messages to the men about forgiveness. Each man is given the opportunity to write down the names of all those he holds in unforgiveness on a special paper. Together, as family groups, they pray over these names and forgive them. Then the paper is ceremoniously destroyed. The feeling is almost electric as the men rejoice in new freedom from sin’s bondage. They carry that energy back to the rest of the prison population where the Kingdom spreads.

The men are encouraged to keep the bonds that were developed during the retreat through monthly reunions and small groups. Eldon has rich stories about going into the mess halls of a prison where Kairos retreats happen. The different racial groups separate themselves off into different corners, except the Kairos group. They are the guys in the middle, and are a mix of every race. Eldon says, “We are creating an alternative gang for them to choose.” When someone asked a prison official why he thought it was worth it to go through all the hassle of paperwork and reordering the schedules of the men so they could go on the retreat, he pointed to that group hanging out in the middle of the mess hall.

In another prison, yard “D” is known as the good yard to be in, and they know it is because that is where Kairos goes. The prison staff can tell when there has been a Kairos weekend because the violence in that section of the prison goes down for a month. Talk about a testimony!

Eldon is always looking for men of Christ’s Kingdom whowill join him in this amazing work. He is also looking for people to pray for those weekends as the captives are being set free through the life changing gospel of Jesus Christ.

~ Jennifer Jagerson

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