Sunday, June 5, 2016

“I Was a Stranger”

On the day Relief Society was organized, Emma Smith declared:  "We are going to do something extraordinary....We expect extraordinary occasions and pressing calls."  Those pressing calls and extraordinary occasions presented themselves frequently then--as they do now.
                             Tents in a refugee camp
There are more than 60 million refugees, including forcibly displaced people, worldwide.  Half of those are children. "These individuals have undergone tremendous difficulties and are starting over countries and cultures. While there are [sometimes] organizations that help them with a place to live and basic necessities, what they need is a friend and ally who can help them [adjust] to their new home, a person who can help them learn the language, understand the systems, and feel connected."

As sisters we make up more than half of the Lord's storehouse to help Heavenly Father's children. His storehouse is not composed just of good but also of time, talents, skills, and our divine nature.  Sister Rosemary M. Wixom has taught, "The divine nature within us ignites our desire to reach out to others and prompts us to act."

Recognizing our divine nature, President Russell M. Nelson urged:

"We need women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world...; women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven to protect and strenghthen children and families...

"...Married or single, you sisters possess distinctive capabilities and special intuition you have received as gifts from God.  We brethren cannot duplicate your unique influence."
                                 Aid worker surrounded by children in a refugee camp
A First Presidency letter sent to the Church on October 27, 2015, expressed great concern and compassion for the millions of people who have fled their homes seeking relief from civil conflict and other hardships.  The First Presidency invited individuals, families, and Church units to participate in Christlike service in local refugee relief projects and to contribute to the Church humanitarian fund, where practical.

With these truths in mind, we have organized a relief effort called "I Was a Stranger."  It is our hope that you will prayerfully determine what you can do----according to your own time and circumstance---to serve the refugees living in your neighborhoods and communities. This is an opportunity to serve one on one, in families, and by organizations to offer friendship, mentoring, and other Christlike service and is one of many ways sisters can serve.

The Savior said:

"For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat:  I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink:  I was a a stranger, and ye took me in:

"Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me."

My beloved sisters, we can be assured of Heavenly Father's help as we get down on our knees and ask for divine guidance to bless his children.  Heavenly Father; our Savior, Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost are ready to help.
                           Aid worker embracing a refugee
As we consider the "pressing calls" of those who need our help, let's ask ourselves, "What if their story were my story?"  May we then seek inspiration, act on impressions we receive, and reach out in unity to help those in need as we are able and inspired to do so.  Perhaps then it might be said of us, as the Savior said of a loving sister who ministered to Him:  " She hath wrought a good work....She hath done what she could."  I call that extraordinary! 

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