don jail

TCM's Early Beginnings: Justice

By Grace Boneschansker, guest writer

Image from Toronto City Mission archive. 36th Annual Report (1915)

Image from Toronto City Mission archive. 36th Annual Report (1915)

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. - Acts 16:25

Toronto City Mission considered prisons to be one their prime fields for evangelism.  Numerous visits and services were conducted in the various city prisons at that time. Toronto City Mission and the Prisoners’ Aid Association carried out prison ministry under the charge of Rev. Robert Hall – one of the early founders of the mission.  In the 19th Annual Report (1898), it is recorded “Our missionaries have made 160 visits and held 269 services in our City Prisons.” 

Rev. Hall was a frequent visitor to the prison and ministered to the inmates. During this time, Rev Hall saw many changes, both in prisoners and in the officers, as well as his own staff.  A story from the 36th Annual Report (1915) reads: Rev Hall entered a prosperous looking store to make a purchase, and was surprised when the proprietor said: "I want to thank you , sir, for leading me to the Saviour when I was locked up in jail two years ago." His business seems to be successful, and he is bright in his testimony for Jesus. 

Toronto City Mission now no longer works in prisons, however, the mission is shaped by missionaries like Robert Hall and Samuel Arnold who had the same vision of seeing lives transformed by the gospel.