“The Word of God Is Not Bound”
WHILE serving his second prison sentence in Rome, the apostle Paul stated this tried and tested truth: “The word of God is not bound.” (2 Tim. 2:9) These words can be illustrated by the following experience from the Pacific island of Tahiti.
“During one of our meetings, an elder who was then the Bible study overseer requested an unusual territory—Tahiti prison, where he was employed as a warder. The distressing situation of the prisoners disturbed him, and he was convinced that they too were concerned about the ‘good news’ written in the Bible. On several occasions our congregation had applied for permission to visit the prisoners, but unfortunately the answer was always: ‘Catholics, Protestants, Adventists, Mormons and the like are welcome to come and speak about their religion, because members of those religions are in our prison; but there are no Jehovah’s Witnesses here.’
“So the elder decided to preach the ‘good news’ inside the prison where he worked on the penitentiary staff. Outside working hours, from noon until 2 p.m., he would spread the Kingdom hope. Very soon, his activity started bearing fruit and Bible studies were being conducted regularly.
“Noticing the success of the Witness, other warders, some of whom were Protestant deacons, persuaded a few coreligionist prisoners to complain to the director that his preaching disturbed their noonday siesta. So, he was summoned to the director’s office, where he was asked to stop his evangelizing work, the reason being that prisoners in Block A did not like being aroused during their siesta. Tactfully, he stressed the beneficial influence of Bible teaching and pointed out the positive results that he had obtained with prisoners from Block C, whereas those of Block A had never received his visit. The director quickly discerned the insincerity of the protesters; however, for the sake of maintaining peace, he requested the Witness to cease preaching from cell to cell. Nevertheless, he was allowed to continue visiting those who desired his visits.
“Thus, God’s Word was not bound. About five prisoners continued taking in the spiritual food that was eventually to transform their lives. In fact, one of these became a vital instrument in distributing this food. This man had been sentenced to prison nine years previously for several thefts. He was a particularly difficult prisoner and had escaped many times, but he was always caught soon thereafter and his sentence was extended. Since the warder had been forbidden to preach from cell to cell, this prisoner quickly understood his responsibility of announcing the ‘good news’ to fellow prisoners.
“Much to certain warders’ annoyance, Jehovah soon became the main topic of conversation inside the prison. Priests and pastors visiting the prison were bombarded with questions on all kinds of subjects, such as soul, purgatory, hell, the time of the end. Some warders claimed that the preaching was a source of unrest, so the director decided to ban Bible teaching on the prison grounds.
“But the Witness elder did not give up in his plan to make the ‘good news’ known to the prisoners, and he applied for special permission to have interested prisoners work at his home on Saturdays, his day off. The request was honored; therefore, all those willing came under his care every Saturday. Needless to say, no time was wasted and many Bible studies were conducted week after week.
“The elder was richly rewarded for his perseverance. Indeed, one of the most dangerous prisoners transformed his personality and obtained permission to attend a circuit assembly, where he was baptized.
“From then on, the prison had one Jehovah’s Witness among its inmates. The director was so amazed at seeing the outstanding changes that God’s Word had made in some of his prisoners that he suggested making out a formal request for a Witness minister to visit the prison on an official basis. The request was submitted and permission was given, with one specification—Jehovah’s Witnesses would have, not just one hour with the prisoners (as other religions had), but two hours!
“And so, every Monday after the evening meal, all interested persons may now benefit from a public talk and a one-hour Bible study, thanks to the help of three Witnesses from our congregation. Like the apostle Paul in prison bonds, they too can now say: ‘The word of God is not bound.’”—2 Tim. 2:9.