Correctional Care

Watch our Correctional Care video to learn more about this ministry

Remembering Those in Prison

I’ve been visiting correctional facilities with the gospel since the 1990's, and yet the memory of my first visit still lingers in my mind. One heavy steel door after another clanked shut behind me and echoed up and down the hallway, as I was led deeper and deeper into the jail. The concept of being locked up took on new meaning for me that day, and I recall feeling a little like Dorothy in the land of Oz — “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” The experience was a little surreal and unsettling. 

Now as someone who has always been free to leave the correctional facilities I visit, I have to say that I cannot imagine what it must be like to be incarcerated. I cannot imagine having all of the freedoms and choices I take for granted (like choosing what I'll eat, or what I'll wear), taken from me. I cannot imagine what it would be like to be cut off from family and friends, my place of worship and my fellow Christians, not at a time like this — not when I’m going through what would undoubtedly be one of the most difficult times of my life.

Perhaps this is why the writer to the Hebrews encourages us to "Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoner" — because he realized that people in prison need to hear about their gracious God and Savior more than ever. Sharing Jesus is really what our ministry in correctional facilities is all about. "Remembering those in prison," we conduct worship services, Bible classes and one-on-one visitations with men and women in county jails, and state prisons in the upper Midwest. And while we do serve members of our WELS/ELS congregations, the vast majority of our ministry is to people who have limited knowledge of their Savior, or simply have no "church home". Being incarcerated is difficult —there's a reason why it's called "hard time" — and yet our gracious God has a way of using the difficult times in life to reach out to people through his Word, and this is where we come in. Simply put, the work we do is largely that of an "institutional missionary" shining the light of Jesus’ love behind the walls!

Chaplain Joseph Radsek


Correctional Care

Institutional Ministries is currently sharing the gospel in 75 jails and prisons throughout the state of Wisconsin and parts of northern Illinois and Indiana.

Read our Featured Correctional Care Story

GraceLinks

When COVID-19 closed the doors to in-person ministry, we began sending electronic devotions to inmates. Now, the number of inmates requesting these devotions has exploded.

Read our Featured GraceLinks Story

Women's Ministry

Over the years we’ve discovered that when sharing the gospel with women, a great way to remove potential barriers is to have women ministering to other women.

Read our Featured Women's Ministry Story

Latest Correctional Care Articles

Check out our IM.Life stories, articles and experiences.


The Gift of Spiritual Discernment

This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words. 14 The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the...

Read More

Not Just Routine

I was very pleased (and mildly surprised) a few weeks ago when Fred’s name appeared on the list for our Bible study in prison. I was even more pleased when Fred actually joined our study of God’s Word that day. He had been...

Read More

When the Son Sets You Free

For the better part of two decades, Jake has been longing to be free — free from the “demons” and guilt that he has been carrying around with him since his last tour of duty. Whether Jake is suffering from clinical PTSD or...

Read More

The Evil I Do Not Want to Do

John is a WELS Member who has been incarcerated for most of his adult life. I first met John when he joined our Bible study at the prison to which he had been transferred. While he has been at several prisons at which I do not...

Read More

Prayer

“It worked!” Martina said excitedly when I came back to the jail for our second visit. Last week, Martina had told me about her dilemma.

Read More


Ministry Behind the Walls

Institutional Ministries is a nonprofit organization established in 1901 that carries out behind-the-walls ministry by shining the light of Jesus’ love into hearts.