May I work at a prison and care for inmates on Sabbath?

Questions & Answers May 27, 2017

Q: I’m a Seventh-day Adventist who has recently moved from New Zealand to Australia. I’ve applied to work as a corrections officer at the local prison, but am worried that I might be asked to work on the Sabbath. Is it all right to work on the Sabbath looking after prisoners, or is it against God’s commandment? — Laisenia, from Australia

A: Laisenia, sometimes finding employment not requiring work on the Sabbath can be a challenge — especially in vocations that require workers round the clock. While there would no doubt be opportunities to share your faith in a prison setting, it is clearly not an environment conducive to Sabbath observance.

Many times, employers are willing to make accommodations for seventh-day Sabbath keepers, and before accepting a job offer, I would recommend informing your potential employer that you are a Seventh-day Adventist.

Explain that while you are willing to work on any day — Sunday to Friday — you observe God’s seventh-day Sabbath from sundown Friday evening to sundown Saturday and would not be able to work during those hours. If needed, I am certain that your local Adventist pastor would be willing to also talk with your potential employer about this.

A very helpful document, “Secular Employment and Trade As Related to the Sabbath,” is available on the Biblical Research Institute website.

In a section titled, “Essential and Emergency Work,” the document states:

“In order to uphold the sanctity of the Sabbath, Seventh-day Adventists must make wise choices in matters of employment, guided by a conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Experience has shown that there are hazards in choosing vocations that will not allow them to worship their Creator on the Sabbath day free from involvement in secular labor. This means that they will avoid types of employment that, although essential for the function of a technologically advanced society, may offer problems in Sabbath observance.

“The Scriptures and the Spirit of Prophecy are explicit about our duties as Christians to our fellowmen, even on the Sabbath day. …

“Many employers in so-called essential service areas willingly make accommodations for Sabbathkeepers. Where such is not granted, members should carefully review biblical principles of Sabbathkeeping and in that light examine the type of activity, environment, requirements of the job, and personal motives before committing themselves to working on the Sabbath. They should ask of the Lord, as did Paul on the Damascus road, ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?’ When this attitude of faith prevails, we are persuaded that the Lord will lead the believer to discern His will and supply strength and wisdom to follow it.”

I encourage you to read the entire document at the link given above.