Now Alma, the priest who had fled from King Noah, repented of his sins and began secretly teaching the words of Abinadi about Christ to all those who would listen. Over time, many people believed his words and they gathered to hear him speak at a place called Mormon, where there was a fountain of pure water.
There at the waters of Mormon, Alma began baptizing people beginning with a man named Helam, saying, "Having authority from Almighty God, I baptize you, Helam, as a testimony that you have entered a covenant to serve him until the day you die. May the Holy Ghost be poured out onto you, and may he grant you eternal life through the redemption of Christ."
In this same way he baptized about 204 people, and they called themselves the Church of Christ from that time forward. Alma ordained priests, one for every fifty of them, and told the priests that they must work with their own hands and not to depend on the people for their own support.
Alma commanded them all to share what they have with others according to their needs. He taught that those who have an abundance should, out of their love for God, give to those who have little. And he commanded that there be no disputes between the people and that their hearts be knit together in unity and love toward one another.
Alma's people followed him to a beautiful place in the wilderness and there they worked extremely industriously. They tilled the soil, and built buildings, and formed a city that they called Helam. Alma was their high priest, and the people wanted Alma to become their king, but Alma reminded them of the wickedness of King Noah, and told them not to trust any man to be their king.
Nevertheless Jesus saw fit to chasten his people. A Lamanite army traveling through the land discovered Alma's people and took control of their city, surrounding it with guards and making a man named Amulon—a Nephite who had been loyal to King Noah—their king. Amulon hated Alma, remembering how Alma had fled from King Noah.
Amulon set taskmasters over Alma's people and put tasks on them. So great was the suffering of the people that they cried out mightily to God. Amulon commanded them to stop their cries. He put guards over them and whoever was caught calling out to God would be put to death. And so Alma's people poured out their hearts to God in silence.
God heard their prayers, and Alma and his people became strengthened and their burdens made light. Now they could lift up their burdens with ease, and the people were cheerful and patient. And the voice of Jesus came to them, saying, 'Be of good comfort. Tomorrow I will rescue you from slavery."
That night they gathered their flocks and their grain. Then Jesus caused a deep sleep to come over their Lamanites taskmasters while Alma's people exited the city and headed off into the wilderness. And the men, women, and children all raised their voices to give thanks to God.
They stopped in a valley they named Alma, and there Jesus said to them, "Hurry and get the people out of this land, for the Lamanites have woken up and are pursuing you. Get out of this land and I will stop the Lamanites here in this valley so they chase your people no further." So Alma's people continued on their journey into the wilderness.