Our dear beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, has been so consistent with his rescue message. His love and care for the one has been an epitome of his sterling service. He has shown us by example how we can walk the path of discipleship and become true shepherds.
During the April 2001 Priesthood Session of General Conference, he taught:
“Brethren, the world is in need of your help. There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and souls to save. The blessings of eternity await you. Yours is the privilege to be not spectators but participants on the stage of priesthood service.”
The Saviour taught powerfully on caring for the one. His teachings using the parables in Luke chapter 15; The Lost Sheep, The Lost Piece of Silver and The Prodigal Son, all pointed in essence to his deep concern and real love for the one.
We have many among us who have strayed. The Saviour has appointed us to save His children. We are indeed His ambassadors and thus mandated to rescue. We cannot be spectators but active participants as we fulfil our rescue obligations.
Two years ago, I was assigned to a stake conference in one of the neighbouring countries. Prior to the conference, the stake president accompanied me to visit a less-active family. When we arrived at their home, we were welcomed by the mother and daughter. The father was away running some errands. We shared some scriptures, testified, and prayed with them. They said they had been offended at Church but were keen to come back. Inasmuch as they wanted to come, they could not commit as they wanted the father to be involved in that decision. As we made our way out, we unexpectedly met the father by the door. It was a big surprise as he was only expected back later that afternoon. He said he felt something telling him to go back home. We went back inside and had a wonderful time sharing truths about the Restored Gospel. We prayed with the whole family again. They were so touched and felt the Spirit strongly that they decided to come back to Church immediately. That very night they were due to attend a service with a different Church which they had decided to join. We felt that the Lord had sent us into their home right at the ideal time to save them. None of these occurrences were by coincidence but by giving heed to the promptings of the Spirit and the Lord’s design in play. We invited the family to join us for the conference. The following day, they attended the Sunday Session of the Stake Conference and we were happy that the Lord sent us into their home before they joined another Church.
There is so much joy in serving others and reaching out, especially to new members, less-active members, the lonely and those who stand in need of comfort. As we do this, lives will be transformed. As we reach out, we need to:
1. Establish sincere friendships by acquainting ourselves with them.
2. Loving them without judging them.
3. Watching over them and strengthening their faith “one by one” as the Savior did.
Sometimes a mere phone call can change someone’s life. I remember several years ago whilst serving as a Stake President, I visited a ward and discussed with the bishop one particular sister with great potential whose attendance had become erratic. When I arrived home that Sunday afternoon, I phoned her. I had never phoned her before and she was quite surprised as she wondered what the stake president wanted from her. I expressed our love for her, that I was in her ward and that we missed her. Then she said something profound, “So you notice?” she asked. It was a big lesson for me - people will feel loved and cared for if we “notice them”. She promised to never miss church again.
These small acts of service coupled with effective home teaching and visiting teaching, will touch hearts, change lives and save souls.
King Benjamin, in that wonderful sermon to his people said; “And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (1)
We express faith in practical ways by serving others and service is one of the tests of true discipleship. The Saviour taught; “A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (2)
When we take upon us the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we enter into a covenant to follow Him and always remember Him. Our Saviour epitomizes charity, love and compassion. His ultimate Atoning sacrifice for each one of us is the greatest example of how both He and the Father showed love for all of us.
Let us be active participants in this great work of salvation and be genuine friends who love, care, listen and reach out to those voices in despair. Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God (3).
1. Mosiah 2:17
2. John 13:34-35
3. Doctrine and Covenants 18:10