Saturday, December 22, 2012

Prison & Jail Ministry Thank You

Prison & Jail Ministry members. Do you ever wonder if you make a difference in the lives of the men and women you serve?

This Christmas Card was given to me by a member of Joyful Souls Aftercare.

Wishing you and yours a wonderful season!
Angel girls sing and play music

There is so much goodness there  for the asking and I'm grateful to be involved with people that are on purpose doing God's will - joyfully.

  • providing a safety net
  • serving their fellow man
  • showing us how to be" in the world not of the world"
  • unconditionally loving and non-judgmental
  • supportive of the most wretched souls needing a shoulder to cry on
  • listening
  • trying to understand and counsel
  • giving us hope
  • teaching by living
  • walking the walk

You all make the journey less painful and a lot more fun!

Thank God I found you,
Consider yourself hugged and kissed.

Thank you, Bea, for sharing. You are truly a blessing to our group!
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For more information about Prison & Jail Ministry visit:

Sunday, December 9, 2012


The Women of Block 12
Chapter 9
Religion defines evil and gives people the moral strength to resist."
Phillip Yancey

Prayer was never one of my strengths (maybe it's a Lutheran thing), but I've always admired a women who could stand in front of a group with just the right-sounding words rolling off her tongue as if she got up that morning and God handed her a new Psalm.

Not me. My prayers sounded more like begging with an occasional "thank you" thrown in to make sure I could return later with more requests. I rarely prayed out loud and never in front of others . . . until I met the women of Block 12.

They prayed about everything . . .
  • "God, let there be peace in the block."
  • "Protect my family while I am away."
  • "I'm afraid I will die in prison."
  • "Lord let the judge see that I' m serious about changing."
  • "Help my mother to forgive me."
  • "Jesus, take away my desire to use drugs and alcohol."
  • "Father God, care for all inmates, everywhere."
  • "Bless the guards and give them kind hearts."
  • "Thank you for sending Jean and Linda."

I, on the other hand, relied heavily on the Lord's Prayer, confident in my ability to say it out loud and with a group. So, at the end of each class, we joined hands and prayed. "Our Father, who art in heaven . . ."

It sounded so 'religious' when spoken in unison. It covered all the bases - praise, requests, thanksgiving, forgiveness. Jesus hadn't left anything out, and there was no need for me to come up with original material.I figured the praying part of class was covered. Then I discovered a person could get lost in a crowd of voices by mumbling to fit in.

I first noticed this one evening when we finished praying. Lana whispered to the woman next to her, "Don't worry, I'll teach you the words this week."

I went home that night grieved by my lack of sensitivity. Lord, what kind of Christian thinks everyone knows about Jesus and his famous prayer? I typed up cards with words to the Lord's Prayer and added the Twenty-third Psalm for good measure. It was a start, but it wasn't enough. I knew the women needed more than memorized words at the end of the group. The truth was they needed more than I could teach them.

Read more excerpts from The Women of Block 12: Voices from a Jail Ministry at:

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Interview with Linda Pischke

Project RETURN Newsletter, Winter 2012
by Kathleen Congleton

Q: Linda, how did you get involved in a ministry to women in prison?
A: It was one of those situations where God told me to do something like "go visit the jail" and I ignored Him. Then he used a friend to tell me the same thing and I thought He was probably joking. I said, "Who me? No way! You've go the wrong person, God. I don't even like those people. They're thieves and murderers."

But I went anyway because I knew Jonah and a few others didn't have much luck running away from their assignments. For a couple of years, He let me work at a distance, writing the jail newsletter. Then one day, He plunked me down, right in the middle of a women's Bible Study group in Block 12. When the doors locked behind us, I figured He meant business.

Q: How did you know that God was blessing your next journey of writing your book, "The Women of Block 12", which told your story and those of numerous other women?

A:  Funny how things work out when you do it God's way. On my very first visit to Block 12, He changed my heart. I believe those who minister in jail or prison walk on 'Holy Gournd.' I aways thought I should take my shoes off, but they don't allow that.

Anyway, I was completely at home with the women and I felt God's presence in that room. There was an immediate connection, and that never changed in the ten years I worked with them. Hundereds of women shared their most personal and intimate thoughts with me.

I came to believe God called me to tell their stories, to give them a voice. I wrote the book to help others understand these are women - mothers, daughters, granddaughters - who have the same hopes and dreams as the rest of us, and they are longing for a relationship with their Creator.

I want people to understand the circumstances that contribute to the poor choices offenders make and, more importantly, to explore the possibilities of how we can all help them return to our communities and make better decisions.

Q:  You have finished the book and have surrounded yourself with women who have been released from prison. What are you doing now?

A: I visit church groups and other organizations (anyone who will listen) to talk about the needs of offenders and how we can help them. Every Friday evening, we have a women's aftercare programs that meets at the St. Vincent DePaul Store in Waukesha. The women named it Joyful Souls. The purpose is to provide learning opportunities and helathy friendships for women coming out of prison. We have an equal number of clients and mentors, but we're never quite sure who gets the most out of the group.