Setting Prisoners Free: Daniel Ehlers—June 2017
Few make it their life’s goal to spend 33 years in prison, but for Daniel Ehlers (Denver class of ‘83), he cannot think of a better way to spend his life. Daniel has spent his life giving to prison ministry to make Christ known among inmates across the country.
Daniel pursued full-time ministry at Denver Baptist Bible College. He and his wife, Nancy, initially thought that God would lead them into missions, but God had other plans for them. After graduating, God called Daniel to pastor a church plant in Silverthorne, Colorado.
Daniel received a call his first week in Silverthorne from a man in Texas whose son was in the local jail. Daniel visited the son in prison and began working with him for several months before he was moved elsewhere and lost all contact.
“About a year later, I received a letter from this kid,” Daniel explained. “He thanked me for helping him while in the jail. He wrote that he was back in Texas with his family, doing well, and was thinking about going to Bible college! I was hooked!”
After accepting a call to pastor a church in Wisconsin, Daniel took a class from Good News Jail & Prison Ministry. Because of his experience in jail ministry, GNJ&PM asked Daniel to become a full-time chaplain. After serving in several jails throughout Iowa and Nebraska, he was asked to return to Colorado as a chaplain at the Buena Vista Correctional Complex, where he has served for the past 21 years.
“There are many challenges,” Daniel shared. “Working in a state facility that may have reservations about your presence, it took years to win the administration and staff’s trust and confidence. The Colorado Department of Corrections recognizes 34 religious groups that may populate the facility. I, as the facility chaplain, must use reasonable time and resources to provide any and all faith groups with the accoutrements allowed and necessary for them to practice their constitutional religious rights.”
Although the work is hard and tiresome, Daniel has faithfully served the Lord in prison ministry for 33 years—taking the Light into a dark place.
“I could tell you story after story of what God has done in the lives of men whom society casts off as irredeemable. Jesus came to save and change lives, and I have never seen this truth demonstrated more commonly and more overtly than in the correctional setting.”