“The Conversion of Alma the Younger,” Tambuli, May 1988, 2
Alma was very concerned. As the spiritual leader of the Nephites, he knew that many of the young people did not believe in God. They did not want to be baptized and they would not join the Church. Alma was worried about these young people. But even worse was the fact that the good and faithful members of the Church were being mocked and scorned by the unbelievers.
Alma was also heartsick because his own son, also named Alma, was a leader among the unbelievers and was doing all he could to destroy the Church. Alma the Younger was one of the very worst sinners. He was a wicked and idolatrous man and caused many problems for the Church. When the people listened to his words which sounded nice, but were not true, their faith in the Lord faltered, and Satan began to have power over them. Slowly they were led away from the truth.
In spite of Alma the Younger’s wickedness, his father still loved him. He never gave up hope that his son would repent and live a better life. He longed to see his son happy and faithful in the Church. Together with many other people he prayed that somehow his son would have the desire to change.
Young Alma had four friends who were sons of King Mosiah. They were also wicked. They joined Alma and traveled throughout the land, seeking to destroy the Church.
One day while they were out causing problems, an angel of the Lord appeared to them. When the angel spoke, his voice sounded like thunder and caused the earth where the young men stood to shake violently. Alma and his friends were so frightened that they fell to the ground.
The angel commanded, “Alma, arise and stand forth, for why persecutest thou the church of God?”
Alma listened to the angel. He was told that his father had been praying for him. His father had asked God to give Alma the Younger a knowledge of the truth. The angel explained that he had been sent in answer to the faithful prayers of Alma’s father. The angel had come to convince young Alma of the power of God.
As the angel spoke, the earth shook and the angel asked Alma, “Now behold, can ye dispute the power of God? Doth not my voice shake the earth? And can ye not also behold me before you? I am sent from God. Go thy way, and seek to destroy the church no more, that their prayers may be answered, even if thou wilt of thyself be cast off.” With these words, the angel departed.
Alma and his friends were so astonished that they again fell to the earth. With their own eyes they had seen an angel of the Lord. They had heard his voice and had felt the ground tremble when he spoke. They knew that only the power of God could cause the earth to shake so violently.
Alma the Younger was so overcome by the things he had seen and heard that he was left powerless for several days. He could not speak or even move his arms or legs. When his friends saw how helpless he was, they carried him to his home and laid him before his father.
Alma the Elder was overjoyed when he heard what had happened to his son. He knew his prayers were being answered and that the Lord was helping his son know the truth. He was so happy that he invited a multitude of people to come and see the result of the prayers they had offered. Then Alma asked members of the priesthood to fast and pray that the Lord would open the mouth of Alma the Younger so that he might speak, and also that his arms and legs would receive their strength. For two days and two nights they fasted and prayed.
During this time Alma the Younger did not move. He was going through the difficult process of repentance. He was being tormented by his sins, remembering how he had rebelled against God. He realized he had led many people to do evil. The very thought of coming into God’s presence racked Alma’s soul with horror. He thought, “If only I could be banished and become extinct both soul and body, that I might not be brought to stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds.”
Admitting all his sins was an agonizing and painful experience. He was very sorrowful and ashamed. Feeling this despair, young Alma remembered that his father had said that Christ would come to the world and suffer for the sins of all people. For the first time in his life Alma the Younger pleaded for forgiveness, crying, “O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me!” At last Alma’s suffering was replaced by a feeling of exquisite joy when he realized he had been forgiven. He knew that the Savior loved him, and an overwhelming love for the Lord filled his whole soul. He had a powerful testimony of the truths he had been taught.
Young Alma got up from his bed and began to speak to the people. It must have been wonderful for his father to hear him say, “I have repented of my sins, and the Lord has forgiven me.” He bore testimony to the people, saying that although he had once rejected Jesus, he now knew that Jesus was the Son of God and the Redeemer of the world.
Alma the Younger and the sons of Mosiah completely changed their lives. Instead of trying to destroy the Church, they traveled throughout the land to correct the wrongs they had done. Everywhere they went they admitted their sins and told about how they had changed their lives. They explained the prophecies and scriptures. Their testimonies were strong and many people believed them. Others were angry when they heard Alma and his friends preaching, but this did not discourage them. They knew that they had learned the truth, and they wanted to share it with everyone. They wanted everyone to experience the joy of righteous living.