Tuesday, September 27, 2011

How does your church care for you and fulfill your needs in addition to your Word of Wisdom?

This is part six of a ten-part post. Elder Cuthbert of the First Quorum of the Seventy suggested ten questions which members of any church might ask our missionaries or any other member of the Church.

Question number six: How does your church care for you and fulfill your needs in addition to your Word of Wisdom?

Elder Cuthbert’s answer:

Over the years of my membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I have greatly appreciated the opportunities for service, for there is no paid ministry. . . . Each family is visited monthly by priesthood home teachers, who care for their needs, and by visiting teachers from the women’s Relief Society, whose motto is “charity never faileth.” We also enjoy all kinds of physical, spiritual and social activity, and receive instruction on such subjects as personal and family preparedness, including home production and storage.

For those who fall on hard times due to unemployment or sickness, help is given to rehabilitate and reestablish. Such assistance comes from the general membership, who fast two meals each month and give the money to relieve the poor and the needy. Yes, the Lord does watch over us and counsel us and warn us through his appointed and ordained ministers. These teachings and inspired programs are now being shared with God’s children all over the world. 

My testimony:

When I was twelve years old, my mother had a baby who passed away one week later due to heart complications. My parents spent the week with my little brother at a hospital in a different state and my siblings and I were taken care of by close friends and family in the community. We were split up as to not place too much of a burden on any one household and the respective families fed up, housed us, took us to our ball games and practices, and otherwise provided for our needs. And these were not families without their own responsibilities and cares. Each had children of their own to take care of and jobs to attend. I stayed with my aunt and uncle who at the time had a son in rehab and since I was staying at their house, I went to the obviously emotionally taxing counseling sessions with them. My aunt and uncle could have easily just let my parents find someone else to take care of me, with justification that their family was experiencing deep trials of their own and just could not at that time handle another burden. But they did not. They saw my family’s need and with great Christian charity with no thought of their own trying circumstances, offered to help the best way they knew how.

In the meantime and unbeknownst to any member of our family including my parents, others came to our house, maintained our large yard, weeded my father’s very large garden, cleaned the house, and did many other things that I do not even remember. Our house and yard looked even better than it did when we all left. One man in our ward I remember actually fashioned a special sprinkler that would reach our entire garden in one swoop, a gift that my father uses to this day. When my brother passed away and my parents returned home, I don’t believe my mother cooked for weeks. With no exaggeration, people—the same people who just weeks before brought by baby presents and made food for us as a welcome home for the baby—provided each meal and continued to take care of our yard and house as much as long as they could convince my parents to let them. Such was the gracious outpouring of love and support during our family’s time of deep tribulation and sadness.

We live in a very close-knit community, overwhelmingly populated with diversely-talented Latter-day Saints. News of tragedies and needs such as the trial experienced by my family travels very quickly and the response to each situation comes with equal speed. Not too long ago, the father of a family in our community suffered a serious stoke that mostly incapacitated him. His wife works but in order to pay all the medical bills and otherwise alleviate the growing financial stress, the solution was to move from their mobile home and build an addition onto his mother’s house that would serve his new needs. Our ward (the congregation of Saints in our area) pulled together and through fund raisers and donations of their own time, talents, and energies, built the much-needed addition onto the mother’s house.

Our community is home to dozens if not hundreds of such stories and certain hundreds of examples of slightly lesser proportions; needed rent, a new roof, no insulation, hospitalization with full recovery and other sickness and injury, to say nothing of the daily lifting of arms that hang down and the strengthening of feeble knees of the lonely, tired, downtrodden, and overwhelmed. In each case, each person who offered their time, talents, and energy could have looked at their own lives with their own set of problems and justified not helping because they had too much on their own plate at the time but they did not. They realized that everything they had was from the Lord and they gave freely of everything with which the Lord blessed them, doing unto the least of their brethren that they may do it unto the Lord (see Matt 25:40).

The Church has many programs and services that operate from the Church as a whole all the way down to the individual wards and branches. Fast offerings, tithing, and other donations are paid by the individual members of the Church and Church leadership decides how the money can best be used to bless the lives of the Saints and others in their communities.It is important to note that the Church’s welfare and aid programs help more than just the members of the Church. The Church’s humanitarian website explains everything about the projects in which the church is involved and updates are often included in the Church magazines.
The Church is present immediately after every major natural disaster, including but not limited to Louisiana (and other places devastated by hurricanes), Haiti, Chile, Indonesia, and a host of other places. The Church also has ongoing efforts to improve the lives of those in third-world countries and other under-privileged areas.

All of this is Christian charity—each person who helps a neighbor or donates to a larger cause in a country he or she has only heard of on TV. King Benjamin, a Book of Mormon prophet, taught of service, “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). The Savior went about “doing good” (see Acts 10:38) during His mortal ministry and entreated all to follow His example, “I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do;” (3 Nephi 27:21).

Indeed, the Church fulfills the needs of its members in many ways, both temporally and spiritually. And the charities and helping hands of the Latter-day Saints are not reserved for members alone, for this is the Church of Jesus Christ and He and His Father are no respecters of persons.


See also:
President Dieter F. Uchdtorf, "Providing in the Lord's Way," Ensign, Nov 2011, 53
Bishop H. David Burton, "The Sanctifying Work of Welfare," Ensign, May 2011, 81
  • "The work of caring for one another and being “kind to the poor” is a sanctifying work, commanded of the Father and divinely designed to bless, refine, and exalt His children."
Jeffrey R. Holland, “Because of Your Faith,” Ensign, Nov 2010, 6
Bishop H. David Burton, “And Who is My Neighbor,” Ensign, May 2008, 51
Bishop H. David Burton, “Tender Hearts and Helping Hands,” Ensign, May 2006, 8