The Overseer continues the account of home missionary work in this installment and tells of what has been accomplished in the penal institutions.
For over fifty years the Apostolic Faith has taken the Light of the Gospel to men and women incarcerated behind the walls of penal institutions in the city of Portland and surrounding territory.
In 1907, when my mother, the late Overseer, first came to Portland she went to the Multnomah County jail to interview the sheriff to ask permission to hold services there. He said, "Woman, you do not know what you are asking. We have at least twelve murderers behind the bars." She answered: "I happen to know what I am talking about. I have conducted meetings in the Los Angeles County jail where there were 25 or 30 murderers at a time behind the bars. You can call the sheriff in Los Angeles if you wish." He said: "You go upstairs and make arrangements with the jailer for some meetings."
Since that time we have been holding services regularly in the county jail. This jail, now located at Rocky Butte, outside the city, is said to be one of the finest in the nation, and a goodly number of inmates have always gathered for the services there.
Besides the jail meetings that we have held in the immediate vicinity, meetings have been conducted in institutions in outlying districts: the Clackamas county jail at Oregon City; and at the Clark county jail in the State of Washington. The Oregon State Penal Institution at Salem, a distance of 50 miles from Portland has been visited regularly one Sunday of each month, and scores of prisoners have attended the meetings.
These men forfeit their leisure time for outside recreation in order to be in an evangelistic service.
Our branch churches in different localities throughout the United States—and also throughout the world—assume the same responsibility as the headquarters, and carry the Gospel message to the unfortunate in these institutions.
Selected groups who visit the jails include a minister, musicians, singers, and other Christian workers. When the prisoners are assembled they are given the opportunity to choose a favorite hymn. They enjoy singing as well as hearing others sing special songs for them. Their favorite songs include: "The Old Rugged Cross," "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder," "Sunrise Tomorrow," and "Some Golden Daybreak."
As the meeting progresses, testimonies are given by the Gospel workers, redeemed men and women, some of whom were once slaves of sin as many of these inmates are. The workers tell of the deliverance they found when they surrendered their lives to Christ and of the power they received to live above the sins that once had them bound. Following a brief message from the Word of God, the minister asks those who want prayer to raise their hand. Practically every hand is raised for prayer. Their requests are presented at the headquarters church before a group of prayer warriors who have the welfare of the prisoners at heart.