There are six key evidence-based elements to our program that take prison inmates through our four-year in-prison seminary and grants them a BA in Biblical Studies when they complete the program. Upon graduating, students go on to become Field Mentors, caring for the needs of fellow inmates, their families outside the prison walls, and even personnel.
These elements were first introduced to us by Grove Norwood, Founder of the Heart of Texas Foundation, the organization responsible for launching the Texas seminary. Grove calls this the “recipe” and recommends strict adherence to it. WIEA has followed his counsel from the beginning and has buy-in from Trinity International University – Deerfield, Il and the Wisconsin of Corrections.
The elements are:
LIFERS – We focus on admitting inmates with extremely long sentences. After graduation, they will be voluntarily available to serve as Field Mentors for many years within the Wisconsin Prison System.
EQUIPPED – After four years of study in a fully accredited seminary, the Field Mentors
are equipped to serve as counselors, mentors, peace-makers, teachers, Bible-study facilitators, and much more.
TRANSFORMED – Upon graduation, each class of Field Mentors is split into teams of 2 to 4 men, and transferred to other prisons in Wisconsin, to begin serving their remaining prison years in service to others.
LIVE IN – Part of the power of this historic work is that our Field Mentors do not leave the prison. Ever. They are permanent residents, unlike the official day staff or any of the volunteers. They are available 24 hours a day to care for the needs of others, in this, the darkest of places.
ACCESS – Because students/graduates have proven their hearts have been changed, the Texas system, for example, gives them unprecedented access to parts of the prison where the need is the greatest; solitary confinement, suicide watches, hospice and day rooms, to name a few.
PEER TO PEER – Who better to counsel other inmates in prison but their own kind? Only a lifer can say to another lifer, “I understand how you feel.” Our graduates are fellow-inmates! Their counsel is the most powerful influence to be found inside the Wisconsin prison system. The moral inmate is our system’s most valuable asset.
These elements, implemented through the influence of our Field Mentors are producing more peaceful and safe prisons, are reducing costs, are reducing victims inside of prisons, are reducing violence in neighborhoods, and are having a positive impact on the children of inmate families.
- Pray that new students will be called to this opportunity and will apply. We are asking for an abundance of applicants to fill our third cohort.
- Pray for our adjunct professors who work at Waupun weekly. Grant them safe travel. Help them in their preparation as they teach in this unique environment, to a unique student body, with many challenges. Pray they be more they conveyors of knowledge, but will be shepherds that nurture and care for our students.
- Pray for pastors that visit the prison on a monthly basis, to lead devotional time with the students. Pray that they continue to be a great encouragement to our students, as they are grateful that people from the outside would come to worship with them. Pray that this time continue to be a blessing for the pastors as they witness our ministry at work.
- Pray that churches from around the state continue to want to engage WIEA.
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.”
1 John 5:14