I Found Freedom in Prison
IT SEEMS like a lifetime ago that a soft-nosed 30.30 caliber bullet, fired from the rifle of a provincial police officer in Ontario’s northland, sent me on my way to a federal prison in Canada.
The first stop, however, was the hospital, to have my shattered right arm amputated. Then in court, I was charged with attempted murder because of having engaged in a drunken gun battle, which threatened the lives of myself, my companion and the police involved. So I had to face life behind the gray stone walls of a penal institution.
To fill in the time of inactivity and aimlessness, I tried to improve my education. During a study of ecology I came to realize that the system of society we know today is threatened with extinction.
This struck a familiar chord. Several years earlier a very patient witness of Jehovah had called on me and, when he could find me at home, had used a little Bible publication as a basis for some friendly Scriptural discussions. He had shown me from the Bible that the present generation will see the elimination of earth’s ruinous society and the establishment of a new order of things here under the rulership of Jehovah God, using his Son, Jesus Christ, as the governmental head.
I soon started earnest discussions with a fellow inmate named Bill, who was in the first year of a twelve-year sentence, and this continued on and off over a two-month period. Our discussions intensified when we found a Watchtower magazine and an old Bible concordance.
Then I realized that without a little more help we were not going to get any place. I thought of the man back in northern Ontario and wrote to him for help and for literature. Some publications were sent but never made it through the web of regulations. However, word was sent to the branch office of the Watch Tower Society and contact was built up through representatives from the local congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.
At first we were refused a separate room for studying. So a study was conducted with me, and another one was conducted with Bill, right in the public visiting area, amid clouds of cigarette smoke that often made our eyes water. Soon everyone in the prison knew what was going on. As a result, Jehovah’s name was publicized more than we ever expected. Eventually, a separate room was allotted for us and we were asked not to conduct further studies in the visiting area.
In November 1973 I was allowed a temporary absence from prison, long enough to attend a baptismal talk in the home of a Witness and to be immersed in an outdoor pool. The water and the weather were cool, but the fellowship warmed my heart. The following spring Bill also symbolized his dedication to Jehovah.
I have been released from prison under terms of a federal parole and now I am proclaiming God’s kingdom from door to door, within sight of the gray stone walls behind which I passed so many days.
Through the efforts of Bill and, now another man, Phillip, the Kingdom work goes on within the walls despite barriers raised by representatives of the mainline religions and their sympathizers. Teachers, guards and inmates alike have received a witness as opportunity permitted. As far as response is concerned, the majority are no different from the majority outside the walls.
But the work continues and, through Jehovah’s undeserved kindness and patience, one or two more may still have the opportunity to respond and to learn God’s truth.
Words can never convey how much Jehovah did for me and is doing for my spiritual brothers in the prison. We are doing our best to respond to God’s love in the only way we can, that is, by obediently working to give others this message of life.
Obstacles in your life may seem insurmountable as gloom descends over the entire earth. Take heart and let Jehovah’s Witnesses help you, as they did me, to see from God’s Holy Word that there is a solidly based hope for you, as there has proved to be for so many others.—Contributed.