◼ What cautions should we heed when witnessing to prison inmates?
Worldwide there are at least eight million prison inmates, some of whom show an interest in the good news. (1 Tim. 2:4) One branch office receives some 1,400 letters each month from inmates and their family members requesting literature or a personal visit. While the interest of many inmates is sincere, experience has shown that some feign interest, seeking to take selfish advantage of God’s people. In view of this, all should heed the following cautions regarding witnessing to prison inmates.
In many cases inmates are given a witness by means of correspondence. It is strongly recommended that sisters not write to male prisoners, even if it is with the goal of giving spiritual help. That responsibility should be handled only by qualified brothers. Qualified sisters may be assigned to correspond with female inmates who express sincere interest in Bible truth. Money or personal gifts should not be sent to inmates, despite the fact that such may be requested.
When an incarcerated person shows interest, his name and address should be turned over to the congregation in the area of the prison facility. Usually the qualified brothers there know how to handle the various situations that can arise. If the congregation is not known, the information should be sent to the branch office.
It is not objectionable for the assigned brothers to hold meetings with prisoners so that several may study at one time. However, special events in which publishers mingle freely with inmates should not be held in prisons. Furthermore, it is ill-advised for publishers to visit a prison indiscriminately and have close association with prisoners.
May we be “cautious as serpents and yet innocent as doves” as we share the good news with prison inmates.—Matt. 10:16.