This week’s Sacrament Meeting was powerful. A retired couple in our ward (headed to the mission field) served the past 2-1/2 years as Branch President and Relief Society President at a nearby jail. It was a life-changing experience for them and some of the inmates. Brother S came to realize as he put it: “Not all storms come to disrupt your life; sometimes they come to clear a path for it”. And “Jail time isn’t just a divine interruption, sometimes it’s a divine intervention.” 

He said initially it was easy to look on the ‘outward man’ in a judgmental way, but soon he saw past the tattoos and the hardness. He saw people. Broken people. Remorseful people. Beloved sons and daughters of God who needed forgiveness and redemption and were deserving of it. 

He told us about one particular inmate who had served 3 months of a 4 month sentence. The inmate was appearing before the judge who was prepared to release him early for good behavior. He panicked, because he said: “I could still feel the craving for the drugs in my veins, so I thought, ‘What can I do so she won’t release me?” He became belligerent and rude to the judge and it worked. He served the full 4 months because “I wasn’t ready to be released.” 

Brother S saw the jail as “a house of repentance” were he heard the genuine heartfelt pure and honest prayers of inmates suffering from lack of self-confidence and self-worth. They couldn’t believe in themselves, but Brother S could reassure them that he loved and believed in them and so does their Father in Heaven. He personally followed and understood 3 Nep 18:32 “…for unto such shall ye continue to minister; for ye know not but what they will return and repent, and come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I shall heal them;…”

Bro Stroud said he has learned “The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, – it’s connection – connection with good people and with good situations, but especially a connection with the Savior.” He said, “Yes, counseling, proper medications, etc can all help, but what will HEAL them (and us) is the Master.” 

And lastly he admonished all of us to talk with our children and our grandchildren and PLEAD with them to resist the temptations of what he had alluded to. Avoiding the addictions and all that comes with them is so much easier than dealing with the aftermath.

I have learned for myself that that is true. I hope you never have to.

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