In true prophetic style, Moroni takes us to task (literally us, in this modern era). He accuses thus: “Ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted” (Mormon 8:37). (Notice his emphasis here is on what/whom we love. I can imagine that sometimes we help the poor and the needy out of duty rather than love.)
Moroni goes on in scathing reprimand: “Why do ye adorn yourselves with that which hath no life, and yet suffer the hungry, and the needy, and the naked, and the sick and the afflicted to pass by you, and notice them not?” (Mormon 8:39).
I have never been more affected by a General Conference than in April 2016. I wept ribbons of tears as I listened to Linda K. Burton urge us so specifically to help the refugees in our neighborhoods — to welcome them, to clothe them, to offer whatever assistance we can. Ah! This is the Relief Society I have loved and have yearned for! This is my president, calling on me to “cheer and to bless in humanity’s name.”
She and her presidency founded the I Was a Stranger campaign, to encourage church members to serve refugees in manifold ways. I just revisited the site and felt so uplifted and motivated by the many stories of church members who have heeded the call. My own family has worked with the IRC in our area, an organization that helps refugees find work and housing. Volunteers can mentor and befriend a new family, provide rides, help with job applications and interviews, donate clothing, household items and food, and tutor in English and other subjects.
I have not done — yet — nearly what I could have done. But this week I renewed my commitment to welcome the stranger, to love the needy, to give, to teach, to befriend, to feed and to clothe. Moroni’s description of the annihilation of his people may feel distant to many of us (“and the whole face of this land is one continual round of murder and bloodshed; and no one knoweth the end of the war” (Mormon 8:8)), but it is a terrible reality for women, children, and men in several parts of the world today. We must not forget. Let us heed the call of President Burton, and help those who make it to the safety of our borders to feel, finally, safe.
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
A Life in Full Color, Aida Stevenson
“I don’t have many memories from that time except that I was very happy, and then all of a sudden I was hurled into this plane without knowing what was happening. The plane landed in Toulouse, and we were eventually brought to a shelter, where all the refugees who arrived from Spain were put. For me, it wasn’t hard at all, because it was still new, but my mother cried all the time, so I would say, “Why are you crying? Why are you crying?” and she’d say, “It’s nothing. It’s nothing.” She’d say, “You’re going to see your papa again,” and all that. So, I was fine there; we were given food, they took good care of us.”
An American Education, Raquel Perez Johnston
“It became harder and harder for refugees to find work since the local infrastructure couldn’t support so many people. Also, most of the Cubans, including our family, had a language barrier which limited the available jobs even more. My dad was working two jobs, as a janitor at a hospital and as a dishwasher in a restaurant, but that was all he could get. My mom could not find work. It was the same for everyone from Cuba – even doctors and lawyers; no one could find much work. The four of us were living in a little one-bedroom apartment with some of my uncles.”
In a world of constant change and commotion, we may often feel like strangers. All around us we hear of distress, tragedy, and hardship. We live in a time of uncertainty and unrest. Many around us live in fear of an unknown future. What can our role as women be in the last days to prepare the earth for the coming of Christ? What can we do to reach out, to love, to nurture, and to minister as He has invited us to do?
We each have the invitation as women and young women to open our eyes and our hearts to see those among us who may feel alone, afraid, or uncertain so that we are no longer strangers (see Matthew 25:35–36; Ephesians 2:19). We are invited to share our love, our confidence in the Lord Jesus Christ, and our hands to strengthen others and love them as the Savior would have us do. This is not a program; it is who we are.
With our divine nature as women, we can be a light in a darkening world. We can give hope, love, and care to those around us. We are not asked to “run faster than [we have] strength” (Mosiah 4:27). Although we can work together, we are not asked to organize large efforts. Instead we are each asked to seek personal revelation about whom the Lord would have us strengthen and love as individuals and as families. The Savior invites us to participate in a personal ministry of love and to remember His words: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these . . . , ye have done it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).