The February 2021 issue of the Liahona provides many messages of hope focused on the topic of incarceration.
In one article, Douglas G. Richens, Church Manager of Prison Ministry, shares a story of when he visited a man named Eric who had been incarcerated for 17 years. Eric prayed often, attended church, and tried to help others learn about the scriptures.
“As we talked, Eric told me how grateful he was for the many Church members who had supported him over the years. He shared his testimony and faith in Jesus Christ. Then, in a whispered voice, he said there were still many days when he felt forgotten and alone. We talked for a while longer, prayed together, and parted as friends. A few hours later, I learned that Eric had passed away,” Richens wrote.
Richens explains that although Eric had a difficult life, what’s important is that he came to know his Heavenly Father and the Savior. He then says the following to those who have been incarcerated:
“The circumstances and choices that led to your incarceration do not need to define your life. You may have made mistakes, large and small. You may have committed a crime once or many times. This is part of your past, but your past does not decide your future. You have the power to make choices that will invite happiness, even during difficult times.”
Richens continues to address those who have been incarcerated by talking about their true identity as children of God. He also discusses developing compassion, shares suggestions for how to parent while incarcerated, and talks about the value of reconnecting with trustworthy friends and changing for the better.
“Remember that any sort of healing—including from addiction, abuse, or other trauma—takes time,” Richens writes. “No matter what your past has been like or how long the road is ahead, your future can be filled with God’s light. The gospel path gives us strength. It brings us comfort. It leads to more happiness in this life and joy in eternity.”
Another article in the Liahona by Marissa Widdison gives suggestions on how to minister to those who are incarcerated. She explains that currently, there are more than 10 million people in jails or prisons worldwide, and that in some nations “as many as half of all citizens have an immediate family member who has been incarcerated.”
The article gives tips on how to safely minister to those who are incarcerated, such as donating items that may be in need at a local prison, treating family members of those who have been incarcerated with respect, and writing uplifting letters while following the direction of the Spirit and maintaining appropriate boundaries.
Read more articles on this topic at ChurchofJesusChrist.org.