Saturday, March 8, 2014

Yuanshan Miracle

Last November, an elder serving in Yuanshan shared a miracle story with me. He and his previous companion were out in an industrial area searching for a less active member. Unable to find the address, they left but felt inspired to circle around one more time and stopped by the side of the road. A friendly old woman came out onto the street. They visited with her and she told them she had a disabled son who only had the use of one arm. The elders asked if they could visit him; she was hesitant but consented to them being his “American” friends. After ascending five flights of stairs, for the apartment building had no elevator, they met the young man and his father. The young man, unable to use his legs, had not left his apartment during the past five years, except on occasion when he necessitated going to the hospital. The missionaries, taught him about prayer and gave him a Book of Mormon. A few days later, they returned. Their investigator explained that the Book of Mormon was quite difficult to read with only one hand. However, he found an online version and had read 58 chapters! He knew all about the Prophet Joseph Smith, and marveled that the Lamanites could be so hardhearted!  
Over time, their investigator finished reading the entire Book of Mormon and knew it was true. He also had a strong testimony of prayer. His father was out of work but after praying and fasting, his father was able to find a good job. The roadblock to baptism, subsequently, was his inability to attend church. Missionaries came and went. They diligently taught the young man but had no way to get him to church. One day in December, they called me and asked how they could make it happen. I asked if their investigator had a baptismal date. He did not. I suggested they set a date with him and then let the Lord work His miracles! So it was, and the wheels started turning. 
The ward pulled together to serve this young man by physically bringing him to church to attend three times, then to attend his baptism and confirmation. His first week at church, this good brother was able to meet Elder Funk, Quorum of the Seventy, who is a counselor over the Asia Area Presidency. Elder Funk gave a powerful talk on the Plan of Salvation and reminded us all of the Savior's gift of resurrection which would restore our physical bodies to perfection. Through the Savior's Atonement, we might attain exaltation and have families in the eternities.
We prayed often for our missionaries and the ward members who carried their investigator up and down five flights of stairs, that their bodies might be strengthened and their families blessed.
Yesterday, we were privileged to attend this young man's baptism.

The Elders Quorum president, gave the best talk I'd ever heard at a baptism. He spoke on how baptism changes us. How it brings faith into one's life. We all have trials, everyone faces trials, members and non-members alike. So how is being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints different? Does that mean that after we are baptized, the Lord takes away our trials? Absolutely not! However, we have sprouted, and are ever nurturing, the faith to endure to the end. We have the eternal perspective of the Plan of Salvation. He shared his own experience, fourteen years ago, of being called to serve as bishop of his ward. Shortly thereafter, he had a terrible accident that severely injured his leg. He pulled up his pant leg to reveal a horrific scar. He was hospitalized, and the doctors said it would take twelve months for him to recover. Did this happen because he made a bad decision to join the Church? Absolutely not! Through the nurturing of his good wife, he recovered in only eight months. He reminded us that when trials happen, we need to keep in mind that they are only temporary. If we lose a limb, it is only temporary. In the resurrection, our bodies will be restored to perfection. If we lose a loved one, that too is only temporary. In the eternities, if our families have been sealed together for time and all eternity, we will be united forever. Whatever the trial may be, when we have faith, we can endure.

I thought about Job of the Old Testament. Job had everything. "seven thousand sheep, and three thousand camels, and five hundred yoke of oxen, and five hundred she asses, and a very great household; so that this man was the greatest of all the me of the east" (Job 1:3). Above all, he had a righteous family of seven sons and three daughters, "Job sent and sanctified them" (Job 1:5). Then in one day, he lost all his flocks and herds, his servants, and all his sons and daughters. If that wasn't enough, he eventually lost his health and his friends. Did it destroy Job? Why not? Because he had faith in his Lord God and Redeemer. He knew all his trials were temporary. He had faith in the resurrection and the eternities:

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him (Job 13:15).
If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come" (Job 14:14).
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God (Job 19:25-26).
And the Lord…gave Job twice as much as he had before…he had fourteen thousand sheep, and six thousand camels, and a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand she asses. He had also seven sons and three daughters. (Job 42:10, 12)

Did you do the math? Why did the Lord not bless Job with twice the posterity? Why did he hot have fourteen sons and six daughters? He DID, because his first seven sons and three daughters in righteousness were sealed to him for time and all eternity. They were not taken from, though they passed from this life. In the latter end, with his additional seven son and three daughters sealed to him, Job would have twice the posterity. I love the example of Job! Come what may, we can have the faith to endure to the end!

After the baptism, the bishop whisked the new brother away into his office for an interview to receive the Aaronic priesthood. What a blessing for his family! Sunday, we attended the Yuanshan ward and were so inspired! The Priesthood/Relief Society lesson was, "Strengthening and Preserving the Family." The Gospel Principles lesson was on the Atonement of Jesus Christ. We even got to watch a seminary video subtitled in Mandarin! The theme for sacrament meeting was the Holy Ghost. Having attended the baptism and meeting block, I felt I had learned all I needed to know in life: baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, enduring to the end, and eternal families!

It has been a wonderful, inspiring weekend!

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