Jessica, the Book of Mormon, and Brother Law

By Laraine Whitear

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    Brother Law has lived in our predominantly LDS community for 36 years. For the past 13 years, since his wife passed away, he has lived alone. He is a kind gentleman and a good neighbor. But just as his large garden and row of wild yellow rosebushes shield his house, there was an unseen barrier between him and his neighbors.

    He was not a member of the Church. Although ward members often extended to him a hand of fellowship and offered to include him in Church activities, he always politely but firmly refused.

    The neighborhood children have always loved him, but a few years ago a special friendship grew between him and nine-year-old Jessica, who lives across the street from him.

    Worried about his being lonesome, she often went to pay a visit. One day she noticed a Book of Mormon on his shelf. Missionaries had left it years earlier. Jessica picked it up and announced that she was going to read to him some of her favorite scriptures.

    Amused at first, Brother Law listened only to be nice to Jessica. Then the spirit of that great book began to warm his heart. He started looking forward to her reading it to him.

    In the past when missionaries had come to his door, he had politely told them he was not interested. But not long after Jessica had begun reading to him, the missionaries came again. This time he listened!

    Jessica’s friend, Kristen, invited him to go to church with her family. As Sunday approached, however, he told her that he had nothing to wear and that he didn’t feel very well.

    The following Sunday, Jessica invited him to join her family at church. When he again tried the excuse of nothing to wear, Jessica told him, “You can wear one of Daddy’s shirts.”

    Brother Law chuckled—Jessica’s father’s shirts were several sizes larger than his.

    Not one to give up, Jessica told her mom the problem, and the next week Jessica gave Brother Law an early Christmas present—a new white shirt. By this time he was running out of excuses, but he tried once more by telling Jessica he had no appropriate pants. She simply replied, “Oh, you can wear most any pants. Just make sure they don’t have paint on them.”

    He didn’t have a tie, either, but Jessica’s dad promptly loaned him one. With no excuses left, Brother Law agreed to attend church with Jessica’s family. After 71 years of not going to church, Brother Law was very nervous. Once he was in the chapel, though, he felt warm and comfortable.

    The next hurdle came when the missionaries approached him about baptism. He had decided the Church was a family church, so it was really no place for him.

    The following Sunday one of the Relief Society sisters gave a talk at ward conference on how we are all brothers and sisters in the gospel. As she talked, the Spirit touched his heart, and he realized that he really could be a part of the ward “family.” Besides, he recalled, all the children in the neighborhood were already calling him Grandpa or Brother Law.

    This story has a wonderful ending—or beginning. On 10 April 1994, he was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Today when you look at Brother Law, he literally glows with the Spirit.

    Illustrated by Denise Kirby

    Photography by Craig Dimond