The cry for help stopped Elder Jaren Hall just as the new Latter-day Saint missionary and his mission trainer were about to knock on a door in a sleepy Northern California town in the summer of 2016.
Across the street, a woman screamed, “He’s got my purse! He’s got my purse!”
The two missionaries, one of whom is now an NFL draft prospect, saw a man running away, so they sprinted for their official mission vehicle.
“We go hop in our car and we start driving down the road after him,” said Hall, one of the most efficient passing quarterbacks in BYU football history. “We didn’t want to get too close to this guy, because you never know if he could have weapons on him. I mean, this dude robbed this lady, so who knows.”
The elders called 911 and continued to slowly follow the suspect from a discreet, safe distance until the situation took a preposterous twist.
“Oddly enough, we had a little house at the time in the middle of a small town, and he ends up hiding in our backyard of our place,” Hall said. “He wanders down this alley, hops over our fence and ends up in our backyard.”
The stunned missionaries waited for the police to arrive and pointed them to their own house.
“It was really bizarre he would end up in our place of all places,” Hall said. “That was pretty wild. When I thought about a mission, I never thought I’d be chasing down somebody robbing a lady’s purse.”
The police recovered the purse, but that’s not the point of starting a story this way. Sure, the missionaries helped police arrest a purse snatcher and recover a woman’s property. Well, actually, Hall isn’t even sure they did arrest the man, because the missionaries didn’t stay and watch. Listening to him tell the story, one fact stood out and revealed something important about them, about Hall.
“We literally just left the dude in our backyard,” Hall said. “The police were there. We showed up later that night. Everything was cleared out. So I could not tell you what happened from there.
“We actually asked the police, ‘Hey, can you just leave us out of this? We don’t want to make any statements. There’s the guy; we’re out of here. We’ve got to go teach people about Jesus.’”
The police approved. The missionaries returned to their appointment, They apologized for being late. And they resumed sharing their message of peace.
As Hall considers whether to turn pro and enter April’s NFL draft or return to BYU for a final season, this is the story of a young man who has committed his young life to football, family and Jesus Christ, and reveals how he became the leader and man he is today.
‘We’d chop it up over football’
Hall has a one-word answer for what Jesus Christ means to him.
“Everything,” he said.
The gospel truly is the word of God and we do have a living and loving Savior …….