WELS Prison Ministry reaching more inmates

WELS Prison Ministry has had an active and robust ministry by mail since 1993, relying on volunteers to facilitate mailing, encourage inmates with the gospel, and correct the tests that accompany the printed Bible lesson booklets distributed to inmates.

However, as Mr. Dave Hochmuth, Prison Ministry administrator, explains, sending booklets by mail to inmates has been getting increasingly difficult as prisons and jails are on higher alert for more sophisticated contraband, often drugs, sent to inmates hidden in physical mail. So, WELS Prison Ministry had to pivot how it distributes Bible lessons to the incarcerated.

Hochmuth says, “Last fall we contracted with a nonprofit organization called Edovo.com. They have created a learning management system like the ones schools use for distance learning, except theirs is for inmates. We have worked since then to develop online courses based on our Bible correspondence course booklets. We made three courses available on March 15 in an initial offering to work out the processes needed for handling this new opportunity. In the approximately seven weeks since the courses went live, we’ve been averaging nearly 300 digital tests per week generated by the inmates taking these three courses.”

This is about the same volume of tests Prison Ministry handled a decade ago when distribution by mail was near or at its peak. Hochmuth estimates Prison Ministry has gained between 500 and 1,000 new students since the launch of Edovo in March.

With the increase in inmates actively learning about their Savior, Prison Ministry has an immediate need for an additional 100 volunteers to serve as test correctors. In the near term, the test responses will be printed out and mailed to correctors, who will then correct the printed copy, which then will be returned to the inmates. This maintains a system where inmates are, at some level, still interacting with another person demonstrating Christ’s love to others.

If you are interested in volunteering, e-mail [email protected] or call 507-354-3130 (M-F 8:30 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Central).

If you know someone in jail or prison, use wels.net/refer to connect them with WELS Prison Ministry.



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