LADYSMITH, Wis.—Elaine Smith, pastor’s wife at Ladysmith Baptist Church, has been ministering to women in jail for more than 20 years. A volunteer chaplain in the local law enforcement center, she holds chapel services for the women once a week and on Sunday mornings. But “the most rewarding times,” she says, “have been when in humility of heart, a woman will say, ‘I have a problem and I need help.’” Smith offers a Bible-based 12-step program called Set Free, which requires the women to read the Bible, do homework, and attend church services.
Smith has heard numerous positive comments from the women. “This deals with the heart, not my head. I like it,” said one woman. Others have responded, “This is different than any other program I have ever been in, and I have been in them all.” “This is great! Can I bring my friend?” “You mean, I can not be an alcoholic someday? There is real hope? Tell me more!”
When the women are released from jail, they continue class in the church with Smith if they live nearby and attend one church service each week. A certificate commemorates their completion of the program and their being “set free.”
“It is great to go to Walmart and occasionally meet one of my students who stops me, thanks me, and says, ‘Still clean’ with a big, proud smile on her face,” Smith says.
“Most of these women have never opened a Bible before, and they become proficient in finding passages in no time at all since the program uses about 25 or more verses per lesson. It is exciting to see them begin to treasure and learn the Word of God. It is great to see lives change and families restored whole. What a privilege to serve a great God.”
- For a similar program, see More than Sobriety: Resources for Biblical Substance Abuse Counseling and Addiction: A Family Affair by Pamela Russell, a community service chaplain with Regular Baptist Chaplaincy Ministries.