Bringing the digital age to prison ministry

We’ve got some exciting (and perhaps somewhat daunting) news. After years of declining ministry opportunities, the Holy Spirit has breathed new life into the Bible study correspondence courses from WELS Prison Ministry. On March 15, we launched the first phase of a new effort to distribute our courses digitally. In this first phase, three of our courses were converted to online courses using a system run by as mentioned in the lead article.

The response has been significant. Since the three courses were made available to inmates, we have been receiving about 240 tests per week on Edovo’s system. We continue to receive about 100 tests per week through the mail as well. The combined total is higher than our historical peak usage of about 300 tests per week via the mail 10 to 15 years ago. We thank God that we are reaching so many inmates again.

But this surge has its challenges, the first being a need for test correctors. We are trying to rebuild our team of active correctors back to 200 or more so that we can turn around corrected tests in a timely manner. If you have interest in participating in this type of ministry, which can be done from your home anonymously to the inmates, contact our New Ulm office for more information (507-354-3130; [email protected]). In conjunction with this recruitment effort, we are developing a new system for online test correcting for those correctors who would find that more convenient. We expect that system to be ready by this fall and pray that it further reduces turnaround time for tests.

Secondly, this surge in activity has been generated by only three studies. We would like to make the rest of our studies available to inmates on Edovo as soon as we can, but that could potentially generate thousands of tests per week, which is far more than our current and planned systems and procedures can handle. We are evaluating various strategies for this situation and pray we have a plan to report by the next newsletter in October.

A third challenge is that Edovo currently serves between five and ten percent of correctional facilities nationwide. While we expect that percentage to grow, we need to find or maintain other ways to reach the millions of inmates who don’t have access to Edovo. (For example, only five Wisconsin and two Minnesota facilities have access to Edovo. These are all county jails.) With so many of our resources devoted to responding to the Edovo surge, this seems daunting.

Thank God with us for these new opportunities, and pray diligently that he guides us so that we reach every soul behind bars that they might be part of his kingdom.