Everyone needs the gospel.
There are few apparent similarities between Hugh Tyndall and the inmates he assists at the Belle Glade Correctional Institution. As a former bishop of the Belle Glade Ward in lower, central Florida, his circle of acquaintances seldom included burglars, murderers or pedophiles.
"But they are people," Brother Tyndall said. "Some have done terrible things, but everyone needs the gospel."
Every week for 12 years now, Brother Tyndall of the Wellington Ward, Stuart Florida Stake, has assisted inmates in one capacity or another. It began in 1988 when he visited an incarcerated member of the Church. "At times, this man had about 15 others attending a monthly program of discussions or gospel study," Brother Tyndall said, extolling the man's enthusiasm.
Assisting at the institution continued even after Brother Tyndall was called into the stake presidency. In time, he completed a 40-hour training course to become a certified volunteer chaplain. Since retiring from teaching public school, Brother Tyndall now drives 70 miles to volunteer one day a week.
In the course of the day, Brother Tyndall offers crisis counseling, marriage counseling, religious counseling, handles requests for death furloughs, visits inmates in confinement, escorts visitors to the chapel, obtains special toys and gifts for children of the inmates and arranges emergency phone calls to families.
"Inmates are often frustrated," he said. "They need to know that someone cares. They know I'm sincere. I'm ready to talk when they're willing." Though proselyting is not permitted, Brother Tyndall uses questions posed by inmates as opportunities to explain the plan of salvation and begin healing wounds.
Success is hard to measure, but Brother Tyndall was gratified several months ago when a former inmate felt to call him.
"It's nice to know that when life got rough, he knew where to go for encouragement," Brother Tyndall said.
For his years of steady service, Brother Tyndall was recognized as the Volunteer Chaplain of the Year, and as Florida's Region IV Volunteer of the Year in April 2000.
"I don't do this for the recognition," he said. "My wife, Mary Ann, and I were much this way before joining the Church in 1973." Shaun D. Stahle