In Spain, 68 prisons receive visits from Jehovah’s Witnesses, and some 600 inmates study the Bible.
One of the Witnesses making such visits is Miguel, who spent 12 years behind bars before he became a Witness. Now he returns to prison each week. His reason? So that others can be helped to transform their lives just as he was.
Over the past eight years, Miguel has studied the Bible with many prisoners. “I feel good about helping inmates in my old prison,” he says. “It really makes me happy when I see their desire to escape from the world of crime.”
When Miguel was four, a drunk driver hit and killed his father. His widowed mother then had to work long hours to provide for the family.
Miguel and his older brother began to skip school and to steal from houses and break into cars. By the age of 12, Miguel was a petty criminal. At 15, he was making big money as a drug dealer. However, his costly heroin and cocaine addiction drove him to steal more and more. From the age of 16, he was repeatedly in and out of prison, and soon he became a hardened criminal. “I was convinced that I would either die in prison or die from an overdose,” Miguel says. “I felt like a fly in a spiderweb.”
But in 1994, one of Miguel’s friends asked a Witness to write a letter to Miguel, who was in prison at the time. From that letter, Miguel learned that God’s purpose is to restore Paradise to the earth. The writer encouraged Miguel to make changes in his life so that Miguel could enjoy the fulfillment of that promise. “His words touched my heart,” says Miguel. “That day everything changed for me, and I decided to study the Bible, though I knew it would not be at all easy.”
Miguel knew this because he was hooked on drugs and tobacco. Both were readily available. His cellmate offered him drugs every day. Miguel constantly prayed for strength to overcome his addiction, and finally he succeeded.
Three months later, Miguel began to share his beliefs with other prisoners. The following year, he was released and got baptized as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. He also planned to get married, but then a problem arose. A month before the wedding, a court sentenced Miguel to a further ten years in prison as a result of several pending cases. Nevertheless, after three and a half years, he was released because of good behavior. Finally, the marriage took place. Miguel has never returned to a life of crime.