Baptism Behind Bars
A prison ministry welcomes a precious soul into fellowship with God through baptism.
Last summer we conducted a prison baptism, welcoming one more precious soul into the fellowship of God. This baptism brought our ministry’s total to 17. Praise God!
I would love to announce that we baptized 40, 20 or even five inmates last summer, but we need to be careful in the prison environment. Many convicts want baptism to free them from guilt and regret but have no real interest in letting God have His will in their lives. When these men are baptized by other denominations, they seem to think they have gained a spiritual “insurance policy,” and far too often their growth stops. Others seem to view God as a vending machine, believing that if they give Him the right coins, their girlfriend will come to see them or they’ll get a miraculous pardon. At the very least, they reason that being baptized will look good on their inmate record. That’s why we try to be sure our candidates’ faith is genuine.
God’s work in hearts often progresses slowly. First they begin to attend our meetings. We befriend them and give them study materials as they seem ready. Those who are serious generally don’t request baptism early on, but will say things like, “I’m learning so much.” Or, “I like that you answer my questions straight from the Bible.” Eventually they express a desire to join the church or ask about baptism. When that happens, we start one-on-one studies covering all the Seventh-day Adventist doctrines. We also explain the gospel commission and their responsibility to represent Christ even in prison. After they understand our doctrines and acknowledge that before being baptized they will take solemn vows, then we are ready to move forward.
Our prison ministry team now serves in four facilities ranging from 20 miles to 110 miles away from us. The recent baptism took place at the nearest men’s facility, where between 10 and 20 attend our Friday evening services. Next is a women’s facility where our ladies minister on Friday evenings. That group has grown from four inmates about three years ago to as many as 20 now. We had a lady there preparing for baptism, but her studies went on hold when she suffered a stroke. The other inmates attend our services regularly and study faithfully.
Our largest group is 80 miles away. This is a maximum security facility where men who have committed very serious crimes are serving from 10 years to multiple life sentences. We minister here every Saturday night to sometimes over 100 men, and we’re about to begin an additional mid-week Bible study at the same prison. In addition, we travel 110 miles once a month to another maximum security facility where we minister to over 100 inmates. This facility is split and at each visit they release inmates from only one side of the compound, which means we see about 50 men at each visit. Someday we hope to minister to both sides every month.
Between prison visits we keep busy reading mail and filling requests for Bibles that come to Bibles 4 Prisoners from inmates all across the United States. It’s a blessing when they write to say, “Thank you for your ministry and for helping prisoners like me to learn the truths of God’s Word.”
The lonely holidays take their toll on inmate morale, and this time of year they need God more than ever. We must press on to keep sharing the whole gospel—and keep providing them with Bibles to read for themselves. Thank you for your prayers and support for this mission behind bars!
Pray for prisoners who need God’s Word to find out about Bibles 4 Prisoners.
Donate. Bibles 4 Prisoners needs to buy a pallet of Bibles to secure a large discount. Donate online at www.bibles4prisoners. com/donate or by mail: Johny Carmouche, PO Box, 972, Locust Grove, VA 22508.
Purchase Brother Carmouche’s autobiography, If I Make My Bed in Hell, through a link at www.bibles4prisoners.com. Proceeds will be used to provide Bibles to prison inmates.