One of our newest apostles, Elder Dale G. Renlund, recently posted on Facebook detailing his experience of visiting with prison inmates on Easter Sunday. During the Sunday School hour, Elder Renlund was asked questions like: “Can I be forgiven for what I have done?” "Does the Atonement apply to me?" "How can I know if I have been forgiven by God?”
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How many of these reflect questions we've asked ourselves time and time again? Read Elder Renlund's touching response below.
Easter Sunday (March 27) was particularly meaningful for me this year as I saw a glimpse of the breadth and scope of the Savior’s Atonement at the Utah State Prison. The Church sponsors approximately nine branches at the prison. Some of the inmates meet together; others are permitted, though shackled, to meet one-on-one with assigned volunteers—including ordained and set apart bishops and their counselors.
I felt impressed to attend worship services in the prison on Easter Sunday. The stake presidency with responsibility for three of the branches at the prison accompanied me. In place of the Sunday Schools, President Richard S. Boyer and President H. David Nielson of the Salt Lake Holladay Stake and I answered gospel questions: “Can I be forgiven for what I have done?” "Does the Atonement apply to me?" "How can I know if I have been forgiven by God?” These and other questions pressed upon the minds of the inmates.
I wanted all in prison to know that the message of Easter, that Christ rose from the grave, applies to all. All will be resurrected. Forgiveness of sin, however, requires sincere repentance and a change of heart. Although their freedom is restricted, those in prison still have the agency to choose to repent, study and learn about Christ's Atonement, and feel the love that God the Eternal Father has for them. This message of hope is universal and unending.
As Easter Sunday is now past, the sacrifice that Christ made for each of us is not. We are all captives in one way or another—captives of sin, captives of despair, or captives of doubt. It is my special witness that the Atonement of Christ is real. Christ rose from the grave so that all mankind can also live. We can repent and, with Christ's help, free ourselves from our own prisons.