“The gospel of the Savior is not simply about avoiding bad in our lives; it also is essentially about doing and becoming good. And the Atonement provides help for us to overcome and avoid bad and to do and become good. Help from the Savior is available for the entire journey of mortality—from bad to good to better and to change our very nature” (David A. Bednar, “The Atonement and the Journey of Mortality,” Ensign, Apr. 2012).
My wife and I have been serving as part-time Church-service missionaries in the Addiction Recovery Program (ARP) for over three years. We are and will be eternally grateful to the Lord for allowing us to participate in this program. It has and continues to change our lives.
The program follows an adaptation of the 12 Steps from Alcoholics Anonymous, focusing its message on the Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Through our participation, we have come to realize that all of us have addictions (food, technology, TV, impatience, anger, etc.) and weaknesses we need to overcome. Just because we stop doing something does not mean we are free from it, unless we have repented using the Atonement to overcome it. We have also learned that this program could aptly be named “Live My Gospel: A Guide to Enabling the Atonement in Our Lives.”
Every Tuesday evening, including Christmas and New Year’s, my wife and I visit the Salt Lake County Jail to hold ARP meetings. We witness and see the miracles of the Atonement in so many men’s lives. If someone had told me before our mission that you could feel and experience the Spirit as strong in a jail setting as in any of our Church meetings, I would not have believed them. We have had many touching spiritual experiences.
One Christmas Tuesday, as we left the family at our home to go to our jail meetings, our two-year-old granddaughter asked where we were going. We explained we were visiting the men in jail to talk about Jesus. A few weeks later we were at an extended family party when someone asked her, “Where is Jesus?” She promptly answered, “He is in jail helping the men.”
The Lord has given us this valuable program as a resource to better our lives. An additional resource is the ARP Spouse and Family Support Guide for those with loved ones struggling with addictions of all kinds. Meetings are held every week, including call-in meetings where people call in from all over the world. There is a great need for many more missionaries.
“Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work” (D&C 4:3).
You do not need to wait for someone to call you to become a part-time Church-service missionary in the ARP. You do not need to be retired or not working. You do not need to stop your normal Church callings. Being able to serve a few hours a week is all that is needed.