In the United States, jail is often a place of waiting. Usually the men and women there are waiting to be sentenced by a court. There isn’t much to do to pass the time, and sometimes boredom spills out into outright anger.
I had the opportunity to serve as branch president at a jail. It was a privilege to help bring the gospel of Jesus Christ into that building. It was at one of our weekly services that I met Brad.
Brad had been incarcerated in various places for 30 years. His family had given up on him, and he didn’t have much to look forward to. One day he discovered that an old friend was also at the jail. They decided to catch up at one of our Sunday services. The Spirit was so strong, however, that they didn’t end up doing much talking. Brad was touched. He agreed to meet with me after the meeting.
I still remember Brad walking into that first interview, his head shaved except for a braided ponytail and menacing mustache. I remember thinking, “Here is my next Alma the Younger.” As we prayed together, something amazing happened. I saw in my mind a spiritually pure, peaceful man. I realized that Heavenly Father had shown me what Brad’s future could be if he responded to the Spirit.
Brad agreed to meet with me again and again. With each visit, the spiritual intensity of our conversations grew. The Holy Ghost helped me feel close to Brad and brought Brad closer to the Lord. Over time, Brad helped many other inmates study the gospel. They knelt together in prayer at night, ignoring the stares and ridicule of inmates who did not join them. The Light of Christ shone more obviously from them. I started lovingly referring to them as our “sons of Mosiah.”
Brad and his other incarcerated friends are still on their spiritual journey, as we all are. But their story reminds us that the Holy Ghost can help us wherever we are. God loves His children—every last one of us.