Ministry Insights

"The distraught cries of a man whose actions led to the death of another person; the admission of a life hurtful to parents, spouse, children and self… “Out of the depths I cry to you O LORD.” As a pastor, I have been quick to speak in situation like this: “God loves you; God forgives you; all things work for good.” True words. Sometimes I have been no better than Job’s friends, who met his anguish with accusations of sin and the need to take responsibility. Sometimes very true. As a Chaplain, however, I have learned to be “quick to listen, slow to speak.” I have learned to acknowledge and validate the feelings of the person with whom I am talking. I continue to learn to “mourn with those who mourn.”  Only after listening and mourning, is it time to offer the peace God has for us all. But the objective truth of God’s peace is hard to appropriate for oneself. It is a constant struggle against the darkness of guilt and shame. As a companion on the journey, it is my role to preserve the light of God’s love for those, whose grief and guilt threaten to snuff out this light.  Chaplain M. Wenzel "
"We talked in jail this Saturday about being thirsty and hungry and being filled by God’s perfect gifts. One of the ladies, so sincere and humbly asked, with some edge to her voice, “Yeah, this is all good but what about the pain I have right now. My boyfriend is very sick and I’m really angry with God for letting it happen.” Her words led to a discussion of how God takes us just as we are. As it happened (God is so good), I had planned on sharing some Psalms that day which show the writer's anger, frustration as well as his trust in God all at one time.  Deaconess Owens "
"Parents who lived out of state called for a chaplain to visit their daughter who was hospitalized after an accident.  She was no longer connected to any faith group.  Through the accident the Lord tapped her on the shoulder about her faith.  She is now ready to have her faith refreshed with the love of Jesus.  Through spiritual dialogue and prayers and suggested resources, she will rehabilitate her faith as she rehabilitates her physical body.  Chaplain Wenzel "
"I saw a familiar face in Bible class today. He had attended regularly for many months until his release almost two years ago. His face was downcast (undoubtedly filled with self-disgust). He sat quietly through the class, listening as we talked about God’s mercy and forgiveness. Paul once said, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” reminding us that the life of a Christian is not one grand and glorious procession of triumph after triumph, and victory after victory. The cross comes before the crown, and the path we walk will be filled with setbacks and hardship. Please pray for this “brother” in the Lord! "
"Over the last three weeks I've met 2 men riding their bikes in downtown Waukesha. When I said hi to them as they passed by, they recognized who I was and wheeled their bikes around. They thanked me and the other Institutional Ministries volunteers for bringing God's Word to them while they were in jail. Both are clean and sober and plan to stay that way. One was released some months ago, and the other more recently. The later was searching for a church home so I directed him to check out a couple of our churches in the area. Please keep these men in your prayers.  Alan (Adult Correctional Volunteer). "
"The Lord brought 5 men to Bible Study on Sunday, and it is always amazing to see God's plan in action. The study for the day was "Who's in Charge Here"? Three of the men were struggling with the burdens they were carrying in their lives. The Holy Spirit spoke to their hearts during the study. You could see them go from despair in their own strength to hope in the Lord. They also began to encourage each other in the Lord as we continued. By the time the guards came to end the session, there was renewed strength and spirits. What a friend we have in Jesus!   Mike (Adult Correctional Volunteer) "
"I had the “boys” this week at Juvenile Detention and they were very attentive and talkative. One of the juveniles asked “do you know what happens with a repent letter.” When I asked what he meant, he told me about this project he did at another institution. The Bible study leader there suggested that he open up to God and write down the things he had done wrong.  This boy had taken the assignment very seriously and had even asked his parents to bring his “repent letter” in for the next visit. It led into a great discussion about repentance, reading 1 John 1 and what happens next is that God definitely forgives us. "
"I went to court today to support an inmate and his family. I was a little nervous because I was going to speak on his behalf. To make matters worse, the prosecution read into the record a long list of criminal or suspicious activity. Criminal records are not the usual topic of discussion in jail. The men usually talk about their drug or alcohol problems or their relationship problems. This man had hinted at some of his activity, but to hear this compilation of deliberate, planned actions against other people was troubling. And then top it off with the fact that some of his activity was taking place around a business I owned at the time. I could have been a victim of his crime. My wife, my friends, my employees could have been victims of this man’s crime spree. And he could have become a victim himself. One of my partners always had a gun within reach. I don’t think he would have hesitated to use it. Lord, continue to give me patience and compassion for this man and others like him. "
"Before service, an inmate asked if Jesus would be here tonight. We talked briefly, and I soon discovered that his inquiry was like that of the Greeks who came to Philip, 'Sir, we would like to see Jesus.' After the service, he shook my hand and thanked me for 'bringing Jesus' into the jail. "