“If One of Jehovah’s Witnesses Calls”
THERE are very few places where Jehovah’s Witnesses cannot call to preach the good news of God’s kingdom. Dartmoor prison, one of England’s chief prisons, is one of them. And yet recently the Anglican chaplain there distributed to every cell containing members of the Church of England a leaflet called “What to Say If One of Jehovah’s Witnesses Calls.” He had good reason to do so.
A few months ago a prison officer at Dartmoor began witnessing to some men in his shop. One of them accepted the message readily and changed his religion so that he would qualify to have the local overseer of Jehovah’s witnesses visit him. Soon, four more had become sufficiently interested to ask for interviews with the chaplain, who then gave a sermon to the prisoners condemning Jehovah’s witnesses as unchristian and heretical. This led to a considerable increase in the interest in the prison and more requests for Bible studies.
Recently a new warder moved to Dartmoor prison and the first thing the chaplain told him was that he did not mind what religion he was, or whether he had any religion at all. He was perfectly open-minded except with those “confounded Jehovah’s witnesses.” When the new warder said that he was one of Jehovah’s witnesses, the chaplain became very perturbed. One prisoner commented: “The chaplain never refers to the Bible except when he is running down Jehovah’s witnesses.”
Mr.——has expressed his desire to be baptized and is now going over the preparatory questions with the local overseer, and every month groups of Witnesses travel to see him in the prison to build up his faith. Regarding the things that have happened in his life in recent months he writes:
“Owing to forced circumstances I will not be able to join you, but the comfort of knowing we are united in spirit brings great joy. At the present time, due to my former course of life, I still owe the State some time.
“Actually, this is where it all began for me, right here in prison, just like this:
“I was searching for help and counsel as regards how to live my life. I couldn’t seem to receive any satisfaction from the prison authorities, so one day I got to speaking to the prison chaplain and I told him that I had a desire to serve God. I asked him how I would know if God knew I had this desire. He replied, ‘When he is ready . . .’ I showed him the Gideon Bible I had and told him I found it very difficult to understand, so he said, ‘You want a New Testament,’ which was kind of him.
“He also explained that he was starting a new Bible class with some friends from the Church of England Men’s Association. He enlisted me in this class.
“The first week at the class nothing happened as regards discussing the help and guidance that was needed. The next week nothing happened. For a few more weeks nothing happened, but by this time they had given out small membership cards and asked us for a penny each. The only time the Bible was mentioned was when they condemned Jehovah’s witnesses.
“Well, at that time, in the prison shop where I was working one of the staff was a Christian witness of Jehovah, so we had quite a few conversations together, and counsel was given me as regards changing my way of life. Thanks to the generosity of what are now my brothers, within a few days a Bible and Truth book were placed with me. Within a few weeks a study was started, and since then, I am happy to say, through the help of Jehovah’s organisation and the love of my new brothers, I have this wonderful hope of serving Jehovah God forever, also of sharing this good news with others.
“One man has already changed his religion. He has now gone to another prison and as he was leaving he said, ‘Thanks for helping me to find the truth. I look forward to seeing you at one of the meetings in the future.’
“Another has told the same prison chaplain that he will not be going anymore to his church and that he will be changing his religion to be one of Jehovah’s witnesses. Of course, the chaplain got quite annoyed, and made mention the next Sunday of a book that condemns Jehovah’s witnesses. The inmate noticed there was not one scripture in the whole book and asked the chaplain why. The chaplain got even more annoyed and has put in every cell where Anglicans are a leaflet called, ‘What to Say If One of Jehovah’s Witnesses Calls.’ The inmate refused to be put off and is determined to learn more about Jehovah and his loving purpose.”
So the good news about Jehovah’s kingdom continues to be preached, even in the most unlikely places, including the literal prisons.