Illustration by Brian Call; detail from Christ and the Rich Young Ruler, by Heinrich Hofmann
When I was 14, my dad left our family, and my mom was forced to flee the country. I was left with my three younger siblings, Ephraim, age 9; Jonathan, 6; and Grace, 3 (names have been changed). Nothing could have prepared us for this sudden change. For the first time, we were alone.
Extended family soon offered to take each of us in, but if we went to live with them, we would be separated. It was a difficult decision. How could we reject their well-intentioned help? But at the same time, how could we give up years of playing, laughing, caring for one another, and watching each other grow?
Initially, my brothers and I turned down their help, thinking I could work to support us and we could stay together. But we knew that we could not provide the care our youngest sister needed, and so, with tears in our eyes, we let her go.
For the next few months, I worked as a building painter to buy food for my brothers and me. My income was insufficient to pay the bills for electricity and water, so we had to live without them.
Despite this trial and the gossip of others that accompanied it, our faith didn’t waver. Every night, I would gather Ephraim and Jonathan around a lamp to read the Book of Mormon. I would trim the wick so that it would produce less smoke, but we would still have to clean our noses that had turned black by the time we finished reading. But it was worth it.
Reading the Book of Mormon brought us closer to Christ. After we read, we would kneel down together and take turns saying our prayers. We asked for comfort for our problem that seemed to be without a solution. We finished reading the book, and our faith in Jesus Christ grew stronger.
One day I came home tired from work and threw myself on our lower bunk bed. Looking up, I saw a paper posted under the bed above me. It said: “I Know That My Redeemer Lives!” My brother Jonathan had put it there. How close children are to the heavens that even a Primary child can be an instrument in sending a message from God to comfort a troubled heart and mind!
This testimony sustained me when I realized I just couldn’t provide for our needs and we had to leave our home. Jonathan was taken to live with my mother’s side of the family, but Ephraim and I chose to stay with our other grandparents because they were members of the Church. In their home we arose early to do chores before school, then cared for our grandfather late into the night. It was exhausting. However, the Lord was mindful of us, and we stayed close to the Church.
Every time I felt like giving up, I was reminded of the special moments I had had with my siblings as we read from the Book of Mormon surrounding a lamp. I know Christ was there beside us in those difficult times. From the moment our family members separated from one another, He did not forsake us. “I know that my Redeemer lives!”
Now, years later, I still have the picture of those words from above my bed in my heart and mind. That message has helped my brother Ephraim and me in our years of service as full-time missionaries and in striving now to live celestial marriages.
I could have missed a lot in my life had I doubted instead of trusting Christ. No matter how difficult life is, it has never been too difficult for the Savior, who suffered in Gethsemane. He can sustain one’s life with one sentence. He knows everything from the beginning to the end. His comfort is more powerful than any heartache this life can bring. Through His Atonement, there is no permanent problem—only constant hope, grace, peace, and love. Believe me, I know! I know that my Redeemer lives!
He Gives Us Strength
“Our Savior … knows our struggles, our heartaches, our temptations, and our suffering, for He willingly experienced them all as an essential part of His Atonement. And because of this, His Atonement empowers Him to succor us—to give us the strength to bear it all.”