It All Began with a Vision, God's Grace . . . and a House
Koinonia House Ministries began in 1991 as a small group of volunteers with a vision to bring hope to inmates who desired Christian teaching while incarcerated, and then provide a family home, biblical teaching, a church relationship, and a fresh start upon their release. Thus the shorthand way we describe our purpose: Building Bridges, Restoring Hope.
Today, our impact has expanded significantly, as we share the Gospel with hundreds of inmates behind prison walls, encourage and support many of their families, and help churches and church leaders engage in various types of in- and post-prison ministries.
With the benefit of experience and strong relationships within the Illinois Department of Corrections, we have been able to minister within a majority of the 25 adult correctional centers in Illinois, as well as prisons in other states and even other countries – Uganda, Brazil, Panama, Colombia, and Ecuador.
But it all began with a house in Wheaton, Illinois – thus the “Koinonia House” in our name.
In the early years, our ministry focused primarily on Christian neighbors coming from prison, who lived in the house, typically for a 15-month discipleship period, in partnership with local mentoring churches. Koinonia House was usually home for 3-4 men at one time, who studied God’s word, were connected with a church for mentoring and community, began employment, and were prepared to re-enter society.
Today, some of those men are counselors, leaders in their churches, husbands, grandparents, and business owners.
In 1997, we expanded our approach to educate and train churches to do post-prison ministry. Beginning with our Meet Me at the Gate® initiative, we sought to create relationships with churches, organizations and individuals in ministering to Christian neighbors coming out of prison.
Today, it is common for us to introduce pastors and church volunteers to in-prison visits, make connections with prison officials, or link a church community with a single correctional facility. Area churches are also involved with our program for families, called Radical Time Out™.
In 2012, we launched a multi-day in-prison ministry called Freedom God’s Way where inmates are taught the truths of God’s Word along with practical life skills. Five years later, in 2017, we added multi-day Prayer Conferences that are now offered for groups both in and out of prison.