(Note: These points are taken from my book, Rescuing Wayward Children)

Within the Plan of Salvation is a personal plan of salvation for each of us. It might require the appearing of an angel, or it might come as a series of quiet steps over an extended period of time. Two things are certain: the plan is in place, and the Maker of the plan is working the plan. Here are letters from parents, who attest to the reality of God’s plan of salvation for their children…and have seen it work!

I am a Once-wayward Child

Dear Larry,

I just got done reading one of your articles about wayward children. I can be a witness that wayward children do come around. I gave my parents so much grief. I started hanging around with the wrong friends, experimenting with drugs, sex, alcohol, you name it.  I would disappear for days on end with no phone call to my parents.  I put my parents through a living hell.  My parents tried everything from yelling, grounding me, to talking lovingly with me.  They even got to where they just gave me my space to do what I was going to do and just loved me from a distance (although I know it was killing them inside).  

We cannot see into the future or what Heavenly Father is doing behind the scene.  We don’t know when Heavenly Father will start to work a miracle in someone’s life.  And that is exactly what happened to me.  

I had a friend who started to change her life. She started to take some Institute classes.  She quit doing drugs and tried to talk to me about her new changes.  I brushed her off quickly as I had no intention of quitting or changing my life.  But you know, I really think something deep inside my conscience was just a little bit pricked.  The strangest things started to happen.  All of the sudden, I couldn’t even breath around cigarette smoke. I didn’t enjoy getting high on drugs anymore. I even developed a severe case of anxiety and panic attacks when I thought about going to parties. I couldn’t go anymore.

My reaction to these things was that I thought I was going crazy or perhaps I was experiencing some kind of challenging health trial. It never occurred to me that Heavenly Father was working on me. Looking back, I know that I needed those spiritual feelings and experiences to turn my life around.  I am absolutely convinced that Heavenly Father saved my life.  

As days turned into weeks and then months, I started to realize that I needed to change my life.  The one thing that stuck in my mind was my dad’s tender testimony of the gospel. I focused on that, and I eventually came to know that the Church really was true and that I needed to change. I was scared because I had a lot of serious repenting to do, but my parents were there every step of the way encouraging me and loving me.  My dad gave me some of the most precious priesthood blessings I have ever received in my life.  

There were years when my parents feared for what would become of me.  I know that my behavior tested and stretched them to the breaking point. But I can tell you that the day that I got married in the temple, all of their effort and pain was worth it. My dad hugged me in the celestial room for what seemed like five minutes, and we just cried and cried together.  It was really an amazing experience.  

I know that Heavenly Father can change lives because I am living proof.  Now that I am a parent of three small children, I know how important it is to share my testimony with my children frequently so that it sinks deep into their souls.  You never know if that will be the one thing that awakens them later and can help bring them back.

A Once-wayward Child


We must keep in mind that an individual’s plan of salvation is very personalized. If it happens too fast or too slowly it could destroy the child. We must also keep in mind that Heavenly Father is a perfect being. That means that everything he does is perfect. We should be careful not to try and hurry him along. That would be paramount to asking him to cease being perfect.

Because Heavenly Father anticipated the child’s season of waywardness and because he established a plan of salvation to rescue the child, we can be assured that the plan, including its details and its timing are as perfect as its Maker.


A Father Seeing Progress

Dear Larry,

I don’t know if you will remember me. I once wrote you about my wayward son. We have been implementing the principles of the gospel, as you suggested, and I happy to say he is doing something positive with his life. He is now in the armed forces. He has stopped drinking anymore and seems to have some direction. He remains inactive, but amazingly, he now joins us in family prayer and Family Home Evening. It’s a start!

The pain that my wife and I felt when we thought we had lost this boy was unbearable. We watched him spiral downward, and we felt that there was nothing we could do. But we held true to our covenants and hope in the Savior, and we survived that difficult season with the love our Father in Heaven. The guidance we have in this gospel is priceless!!!!!!

Thanks again,

A Father Seeing Progress


We must remember that redemption is the work of God. Parents are not immediately equipped to do such an exalted work. They need to learn spiritual skills, which require that they employ sanctifying principles in their lives.

It is a gospel irony that we must work on ourselves before we can work on others, and yet it is true. We purify our lives to eliminate contaminants and pollutants; then we incorporate principles that allow the Savior and Holt Ghost to sanctify us. Now, with this mighty sanctifying change, we are better equipped to partner with God in his plan of salvation for the child.

Parents need to draw on the transforming power of their covenants to become sanctified. In the process, they change their purpose from caregivers, nurturers, disciplinarians and friends to saviors on Mount Zion. They are in a position to work with God to facilitate a conversion opportunity for their wayward children.


Looking Back with Gratitude

Dear Larry,

One of your articles made me ponder the past fifteen years and how things have changed in our family. Of our six children, we had two wayward sons.

They truly broke our hearts. My husband and I aren’t perfect parents, but we tried to do our best. When our sons strayed, we felt as though all we had taught them and all our sacrifices were for nothing.

Our oldest son was on a mission when his two brothers fell away. As a mission mother, I quickly learned that agonizing over my son, who was so far away, was wasted energy. That piece of information became my anchor. My husband and I knew we could do very little for our wayward sons, but we could earnestly pray for them. We also tried to reach out and be supportive to them without stepping over the line and enabling them. We focused our attention on maintaining the relationship, and we always let them know our love was unconditional and steadfast.

My husband and I put their names on the temple prayer roll often, and we began to attend the temple more regularly. We tried to increase our commitment to our callings and become more steadfast in keeping our covenants. We drew our other children as close to us as we could. During this time (late teens and early twenties), both boys used drugs and were involved in illegal. We didn’t know what would happen to them or how this terrible situation would ever turn around.

Fast-forward fifteen years. Now one son is 31 and married with two children. He is active in the Church, and he and his wife and children attend Church us most Sundays. He is married to a nonmember but they both try to be good parents and are clean and are close to us. When I look at him now, I am amazed at the change. When he was 18, he moved out on his birthday and we hardly saw him for a few years. Now he lives in our area by choice. Miracles can happen! I testify of this.

The other son is 28. He is going to be sealed to his wife and daughter in July. Both he and his wife are active in the Church. They are committed to the gospel and to one another to and their little girl. He is going to college and has a wonderful career path planned.

Of course, both of our sons live with the consequences of their choices, but they have come so far and are headed in the right direction, I have learned the power of prayer, personal sanctification and trusting in the Lord and his timing. Your remarks were so true about Alma the Elder and how he implemented gospel principles to help bring back his wayward son. When I read that story, I knew that Heavenly Father loved my sons as much as He did Alma’s son. I also knew that my sons were Heavenly Father’s sons before they were mine. With that trust, I was able to put my sons into His hands and things began to happen. Some things were hard, and those incidents humbled my sons and caused them to wake

It can happen! This is my testimony. Thank you for writing about such a difficult topic that so many of us deal with.

Looking Back with Gratitude


I wish to thank these parents for sharing their experiences and giving the rest of us hope.

President Hinckley said, “I leave my blessing upon you. May there be…a sense of security and peace and love among your children, precious children every one of them, even those who may have strayed. I hope you don’t lose patience with them; I hope you go on praying for them, and I don’t hesitate to promise that if you do, the Lord will touch their hearts and bring them back to you with love and respect and appreciation.”


Author’s Note

This article was adapted from my book. Click to learn more about Rescuing Wayward Children. As a Meridian subscriber, you may receive my Pillars of Zion series free. Click here: www.pillarsofozion.com. Interested in Internet missionary work? Take a look: www.gospelideals.org.