Brother to Brother...
Brother to Brother, precedes a series of poems and stories by or about prisoners.
This section of
began as a result of me being called to serve at the Arizona State Prison, under the direction of the Gila River Branch Prison Ministries Mission, out of Casa Grande, Arizona. I served from August of 2001 to September of 2003. It is included on this website because of the many very special spiritual experiences I, a cop of 25 years, had on that mission. At first, I couldn't believe I was being called to serve at the prison. But it was not long before I realized that calling to serve, came from the Lord and it came directly to me. It was something I needed to experience. Something I needed to know about true Christ-like love for others and the love Heavenly Father has for all His children. Not just some of His Children as we often think. It taught me more about Christ's great Atonement and His incredible love for us, even for he who has crossed the line so far that the world has put him away, even in the Land of The Forgotten. It is here for those who live within those prison walls. For those who have loved ones inside those walls and for those who stand in judgment and cast stones at those behind those walls.
The following, a letter to my brother, was an
account of an eye opening experience for me.
"Dear Harvey and family,
"Well, I have a few minutes so I thought Iíd drop you a line and share a neat experience. One Sunday about a month ago, President Jarvis, 1st counselor of the Gila River Branch Prison Ministry, came and spoke to our High Council. It was an interesting talk, but inside, I didnít want anything to do with it. He explained how they need help in the prisons. There are several LDS men in prison who have never received a home teacher. They also cannot have church services inside the prison unless a member of the church on the outside will step forward and become a state-cleared, "Religious Volunteer." It sounded like a real interesting job and I could see the need, but I didnít want any part of it. Iíd like to forget many things about my past and the negative things about law enforcement is part of what Iíd like to forget.
"As I listened to him, I felt a spiritual call inside me. A call to help with the work he was engaged in. But I kept quiet and ignored it. I didnít even show any facial expression in regards to what he was saying. After he finished, our Stake President thanked him and then turned to me and said, "Brother Jeppsen will be our High Councilor over prison ministries." I about fell out of my chair with shock and I'm sure my face showed it. But after the shock left me, I chuckled. I guess it doesnít do any good to stay quiet! Now I had two calls to the work. So Iíve decided to help out.
"Last Saturday, the 18th [August 2000] I went on my first prison ministry visit with President Jarvis, President Smith and President Reeder. We didnít know what to expect. After all, what could prison church be like? On Saturday morning, we walked into prison, somewhat apprehensive. We passed through metal doors, were led to a classroom and then waited for the inmates to be brought in. As the meeting went on, all of us were very touched by the Spirit that was there. We went to two different sessions in two different yards. One had a group of twenty-three men and the other a group of seventeen men. Not very many men for two prison yards, but even so, the Spirit of the Lord was very, very strong. It reminded me of the scripture in the Bible that says, where two or more are gathered in His name, there He will be also.
"I had visions of hardened and angry men covered with tattoos. But what I found were men like myself in several ways. Like me, they were men who were sorry for what they had done and like me, they were men who were haunted by their mistakes and men who were trying their best to be forgiven. Like me, they were men who wanted to forget and start anew and as a result of their experience, they too hungered and thirsted after the pure light of Christ. The Spirit of the Lord was thick in those two meetings, Harve. I never cease to be amazed at the obvious love the Lord has for each of us and the length He will go to rescue someone. There I was in prison, even Spirit Prison and there the Lord was too. He was there ...reaching back to those who were reaching out to Him.
"I stand rebuked and humbled for my original attitude that Sunday morning. I was wrong. Me, a twenty-five year veteran police officer, one who felt he had seen just about everything, had never seen this. I guess you just donít know until you really look and have your eyes opened by the Spirit Himself. I know that there are bad people in prison, even some who are pure evil. But after three years in jail transportation, I also know there are good people in there too. Theyíve just done some bad things. There is a difference. Nonetheless, I didnít expect to find men like that or have an experience like that. Neither did President Smith or President Reeder. I heard them talking and President Smith said, "I saw bishops and stake presidents in there."
"As I thought about what I had seen, I said to myself, "Who am I to throw in the towel on someone else?" And I couldnít help but be so very grateful that the Lord didnít let someone throw in the towel on me because of my mistakes. President Jarvis told us that we would be surprised. He said if we took off their prison garb and dressed them in white shirts, suits and ties, then lined them up alongside us, others wouldnít be able to pick out the prisoners. He was right. In many, their testimonies shined through their eyes. And their love for the Savior was as strong as Iíve ever seen.
"The call of the Shepherd to His sheep is beginning to ring in the ears of everyone throughout the world. His sheep are hearing His call, no matter where they are or what theyíve done and they are coming to the Masters call. President Reeder pointed out that in the Bible, Christ was surrounded by wise and learned men who prided themselves in knowing all the answers. But in the house of Simon, it was a truly humble and remorseful woman who anointed His feet with her tears and then dried them with her hair ...that He forgave.
"The Church is true Harve, even inside prison walls and I, like them, am so very grateful for the Savior and His gift of the Atonement.
Your little brother, Samuel 082301"www.LDSCOPS.com
The story of: Christ, Simon and the Sinner...as found in Luke 7.
"And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Phariseeís house, brought an alabaster box of ointment. And stood at his feet behind him weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment.
"Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.
"And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.
And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace." Luke 7: 37-50