The magnitude of the opportunity they have been given has started to set in and many of the inmates are beginning to ask God “Why Me? What did I do to deserve to be in this program?” Gathering together at night, they talk about being overwhelmed by a sense of grace and responsibility having been given a chance to help others in spite of their pasts.
“What an opportunity we (WIEA) have as we journey together changing the culture within our prisons and in return, changing Wisconsin as we know it. WIEA will continue to follow up with each inmate once they graduate and are released back in to the system as Field Mentors. The inmates were excited to hear that this was not going to be another program for those nearing release but designed specifically for those who are serving longer sentences and find hope of a future and purpose harder to come by”, as shared by one of the classroom professors.
What is a prison seminary?
WIEA’s program – Operation Transformation uses Southwestern Seminary at Darrington Prison as an example. Learn more about what a prison seminary is by watching this short video from Dr. Ben Phillips.
These two photos show where WIEA will be in the future. We visited with these Field Mentors from Darrington Prison in Houston, Texas. These inmates are now serving and ministering to their peers within the prison walls where they have seen both life transformation and an astonishing decrease in prison violence.
WIEA to send pastors into prison to conduct devotions
Each month WIEA will send a different pastor from around the state in to the prison’s seminary classroom to conduct a devotional with the student inmates.
It is also a way for churches to connect the classroom and the pastors, so they can see what is happening firsthand.
2018/2019 Applications are arriving
We have begun to receive the first applications for the 2018/2019 school year. The prison’s educational department has had to make additional copies of the applications due to the high demand from the inmates expressing an interest to be a part of the program.
What sacrifices do applicants make to be a part of this program?
- Many of our students have served years within the prison system and as a result have worked their way out of the maximum security environment to lesser security prisons. When an inmate enrolls in the seminary they must transfer to Waupun, a maximum security facility, and therefore give up both an element of personal safety and many of the privileges they had earned over time served.
WIEA assisting other states
WIEA’s program has come to the attention of other states in the Midwest. Our model, based on the approach being used in Texas, is seen as a reproducible model with the potential to impact prison systems and communities around the country. This is becoming a national movement we are humbled to be part of as we watch what God is doing.
Save the Date
October 18, 2018
Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts
19805 West Capitol Drive | Brookfield, Wisconsin
More to follow
Burl Cain, founder of Global Prison Seminaries Foundation, served as the Warden of Louisiana State Penitentiary, Louisiana’s largest maximum-security prison for over 20 years. Once known as the “Bloodiest Prison in America,” Louisiana State Penitentiary, under Burl Cain’s leadership, became one of the safest, most secure, and progressive maximum security prisons in the nation. There, he founded and facilitated the Accredited Hospice Program, Bible College in conjunction with the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and also raised private funds to build seven chapels for inmate use on the prison grounds.
Thank you to all of our WIEA Partners, individuals, churches and Foundations. Whether you have prayed, given financial resources or volunteered your time, we deeply appreciate your partnership with us. We recognize this needs to be a joint effort, which is strategically directed towards strengthening communities in our state and beyond. Several of the Foundations who have collaborated with us included:
- Siebert Foundation
- Madison Christian Giving Fund
- Meehan Family Foundation
- Kaztex Foundation