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The Atonement and the Prisoner

The following is a written report given to the High Council and the Stake Presidency
about the Atonement as seen through the eyes
of a handful of prisoners.
March 22, 2003

Dear Brethren,

I don't know how to explain the strength of the Spirit, the love I feel from the Savior inside those prison walls. Meeting with men who have crossed the line so far, that they have lost years of freedom and have literally been removed and forgotten about by all. Their friends, quite often their families, usually everyone except for the Father and the Lord, Jesus Christ. And yet, there the Lord is, reaching out to those who are reaching out to Him. He loves us, my friends. He loves us. And He loves us when no one else will love us.

I wish I could take the brethren from our stake out there and let them experience that feeling. So many of them take the love of the Lord for granted. I wish I could let them experience the love the Lord has for those in the land of the forgotten. Then, then maybe they would understand how much He loves them. But how does one explain what it's like to be afraid if you have never experienced fear. Explain hunger if you've always been full. Darkness, if you've always walked in the light. But these Brethren, are afraid, they are hungry and they have so little light. They are as men in the middle of the ocean, hanging into a single rope. They are truly afraid.

The lesson today was on the Atonement. Six of the inmates gave the body of the lesson. I prayed hard that the Spirit would be there today because the message was so important and yet, who of us understands it completely. All of our prayers were answered. The Spirit was so thick, everybody was moved. Many to tears. It was one of the most touching meetings I've been to.

Bill said in preparing his part of the lesson today, he remembered crying many times in the past, saying the sacred words of the Savior, "Father, why hast thou forsaken me?" He said, "I guess we all do that when we're afraid." George, whose facing another 12 years, talked about what the Atonement means to him and it's the only thing he has left to hang onto. Frank talked about the winepress and how it presses out the oil in the olives after applying tremendous pressure to the fruit. And how the Savior was under such pressure in the Garden of Gethsemane that He bled from ever pore. Like the olive in the winepress. And He did it so we could be saved. Melvin said, "I don't think I have a clue how much the Savior suffered and thank God, I don't have a clue because I couldn't take it. But I know He did it so I could be saved and so one day, I can be clean again. So one day I can hear the words, 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant." Janarow, with tears in his eyes and trembling in his voice, got up and said in his broken English, "I tried to prepare my part, but it wouldn't come. I couldn't think of how to say it. So I got down on my knees and spilt the beans to the Lord. I spilt all of them until I felt better. Then it came."

All simple words, simple testimonies and understanding. Simple faith, but all with tremendous love and need for the Lord and His Atonement. These guys are scared. They are hungry and they are in the dark. But with them, bringing them the light and the love of the Savior, is the Comforter, the Holy Ghost.

May we always be simple in our faith and strong in our need for the Lord and His Atonement. And may we not throw in the towel on anyone, until the Lord throws in the towel on them. On these men or any member of our family.

May the Lord bless you all. May He bless your families, our troops and may He send the angles of Heaven to protect the mothers, the children and the righteous men of Iraq. Those who in their hearts, love the God of Heaven as much as we do.



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