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August 21, 2015


Filed under: Matthew 25:35-43,prison — admin @ 2:14 am

Matthew 25:35-43

We have had the privilege of serving 13 years visiting or writing to incarcerated men and women in many places throughout the world.  For a few of those years it was as much as 20 to 30 hours per week, now it’s just 5 or 6 hours one day a week.  The LDS Correctional Services office of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided us this opportunity.
It has been an enlightening experience to say the very least.  It has proven several facts to us; the most inspiring simply put is that those who embrace the love of Jesus Christ and endeavor to follow Him are less likely to return to prison.  This is called the rate of recidivism.  There are other things that reduce this rate but the process of coming unto Christ seems to be the most obvious to us.   
One inmate was taught that “My life would change if I would read the Book of Mormon.  When I got out of prison I went back to church, but I still had the urge to return back to my old habits.  As I continued to read the Book of Mormon, I learned about the people of King Lamoni in Alma19:33, whose hearts had been changed; that they had no more desire to do evil. I began to pray for this change of heart.”  He found answers to his prayers in Helaman 15:7, which teaches that “faith and repentance bringeth a change of heart.”  As he continues “As I laid my sins at the Savior’s feet, I received a true change of heart.”
The sad state of being incarcerated is that so much of one’s life can be lost and bitterness sets in because of the unfairness that often accompanies being caught up in the judicial system.  So many inmates claim their innocence, but most are not; and yet some are. Family experiences are missed; relationships are strained and often broken never to be repaired.  Loneliness sets in and often depression. There can be mistreatment from guards and other inmates; safety becomes a vital concern. 
Attitude becomes a key to survival for every inmate. Help from others like cellmates, good guards, a chaplain or volunteers is so welcomed.  Another inmate came to prison frightened about everything so he prayed that he would be acquitted; he was not. He prayed that his father would live until he got out of prison, but he did not. He prayed that the parole board be lenient; but they were not continuing his matrix recommendation.  He was humbled and discovered that these were good experiences for him. He said “when we pray for what we want, our Heavenly Father gives us what we need because he knows us and knows what we need to make us happy”
Joseph Smith was falsely accused and imprisoned for months along with several of his friends and church associates.  He pleaded with God for relief when he said in prayer, “how long shall we suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions.”  The answer came: “My son, peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and thine afflictions shall be but a small moment; and then, if thou endure it well, God shall exalt thee on high; thou shalt triumph over all thy foes.”
Whether guilty or falsely charged, relief of the accompanying pain of prison time can come from humbly asking God to carry our burdens that they may be light.  “…the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease.” (Mosiah 24:10-16)
This would apply to all of us who struggle with some burden or another.

Bill Wilhite

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