Dear Brother Albright
Andre grew up on a small island in the Caribbean called St. Vincent (only 18 miles long). His family was a prominent and well-known name on the island. In his teen years he and his twin brother were initiated into one of the more “prestigious” gangs on St. Vincent, through their older siblings’ connections. One day while Andre and his brothers were out with their gang, they apparently crossed into the wrong territory, because an approaching gang commenced a brutal combat between the rival gangs. In the process, several gang members were seriously wounded, and some were killed. At the conclusion of the fight, Andre cried uncontrollably on his knees, watching as his wounded twin brother took his last gasps of air and died in his arms.
Andre sadly returned home, telling his mother about what had happened. He also expressed to his mother his heartfelt desire to escape the dangerous gang life on the islands. He had fears that leaving his former gang would trigger violent consequences to him and his family, if he left the gangs but remained on the small island. To protect him, she suggested that he move to Toronto, Canada, where his older sister was living. Andre agreed. Soon after his brother’s funeral, Andre flew to Canada to stay with sister in Toronto.
During his first week in Toronto, Andre promised himself that he would find a Christian church to attend, in a sincere effort to leave his past completely behind. On Sunday morning, he put on his best red button up shirt and designer jeans, and walked to the nearest church he could find. It happened to be an LDS chapel, where he met two young missionaries inside, my companion and I. We gave him a brief tour of the building, took him to the classes, and answered his questions. It was clear that Andre was sincerely seeking the truth in his life. He wanted peace. He wanted light. He needed the Savior.
Andre was determined to find a cure to his “incurable past.” He soon learned that the only cure available was in Christ Jesus, the Messiah. He started praying for the first time in his life. He started reading the Book of Mormon. He started attending church regularly. He soon recognized that he had not just walked into any ordinary church. There was something unique and special about the things he was learning in this new church that spoke of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. He started to feel, through the power of the Holy Ghost, that we were teaching him true doctrine. We explained the plan of salvation and that families can be eternal. We pointed out that all was not lost, and that he could see his brother again.
He soon developed a powerful testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and the healing power of the Atonement. This former gang member now walked the streets of Toronto, Canada, carrying a Book of Mormon in his backpack. When he went to bed at night, he held The Book of Mormon tightly to his chest. He read it often. He liked the way it made him feel spiritually. He acknowledged the powerful witness of the Savior and His Atonement contained in this holy book of scripture. The things he was learning were quickly changing his life. He forsook the habits of his prior life and followed Christ with his whole heart.
The light in Andre’s eyes at the time of his baptism glowed brighter than the tears streaming down his face. He was on fire. At the conclusion of the beautiful baptismal service, Andre stood up and bore a powerful testimony of the Atonement of Christ to all in attendance. He recognized that the peace the Savior brings far outweighed the significance of gangs, money and worldly power. The change in this young man’s life was not an accident; it was part of God’s great plan. It was beautiful to behold. “And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” (Mosiah 3:17).
Elder Chandler Yamane