Missionary Moment: Historic Liberty Jail

I grew up in Louisiana in the 1960s, in a home where my parents believed in God and taught me to do so also. However, as I grew into my teen years I had more and more questions about my beliefs that my parents' church could not answer. I felt there must be a true church, but that I must find it on my own.

As time passed, I moved to Missouri for schooling, and while there I married and began a family. My marriage did not work out, however, and I soon found myself a single parent with two small children, struggling to find my way and feeling that life was becoming more and more difficult. I knew I needed to feel closer to the Lord.

I was living in a small town in western Missouri. One early afternoon I put my children in the car, got in, drove through town and out into the country. I started to speak to the Lord and said aloud, "I cannot find the true church. You know where it is, and I am in my car determined to find it. I will count on you to tell me which way to turn and where to go to find the true church."

I drove 31 miles that morning across the Missouri countryside, through several small towns and past a number of churches. As I drove into the town of Liberty, I felt I should turn and drive along some of its side streets. I finally stopped in front of an unusual building. It was not a church, however. On the sign in front were the words, "Historic Liberty Jail."

I remember thinking that I was not looking for a museum, and surely not a jail! Only then did I notice in smaller letters the name, "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." I felt I should find out more.

The three of us were met by a kindly man who invited us to see a video. I decided that we could do that much. The video was about Joseph Smith, and as the video began, I had the powerful feeling that every word I was hearing was the truth. The visitors center guide talked to us for a time and then told me where the Church was in Liberty. He said that right at that time there was a children's meeting going on called Primary, and my children might enjoy it. We drove to the meeting place and all three attended Primary.

By the end of the meeting, I knew I had found the true Church. I went up to the Primary president and told her I wanted to become a member of the Church. She acted surprised and said to me, "Who told you about the Church?" I replied, "The Lord did."

I was baptized two weeks later. That was in 1975. Today, I am a Primary teacher in the Aiken (S.C.) Ward, Augusta Georgia Stake.

— Ruth Phillips, as told to Robert D. Collier

Another in the series of "Missionary Moments."

Illustration by John Clark.

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