The objective of Gospel Doctrine Lesson fourteen is “to help class members humble themselves, forgive others, and show charity for one another.”
To discuss the role of women in fulfilling God’s desire that no little children should perish.
“Even so it is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish.” – Matthew 18:14
Jesus’ statement in Matthew comes just after He tells the parable of the “lost sheep.” In this parable, Jesus emphasizes how important it is to search for one lamb missing from the fold, even if 99 are safe. For a moment, let’s consider that the “ninety and nine” are those children who are already in our care– whether they be our own children or others we are responsible for. With this in mind, the “wandering one” would be those children outside of that circle.
What, then, is our divine role as women to reach those outside of our home or circle of immediate influence? What is our divine obligation to use our talents to nurture all of God’s fold?
Sister Carole M. Stephens of the General Relief Society Presidency helped answer these questions with a story she shared in the General Women’s Session in March 2015. While visiting Arizona, Sister Stephens met a woman named Sister Yazzie whose love knows no bounds: “Sister Yazzie doesn’t limit her love and influence to her biological family. She understands what it means to expand her sphere of influence as she goes about doing good, blessing, nurturing, and defending the family of God.”
It is a familiar role for LDS women to nurture children in our homes. But, if we are divinely charged to nurture children and to ensure that not one child is lost, then it is important to discuss ways in which LDS women can expand their sphere of influence. God never set a limit on a woman’s reach!
On the Our Cooperative Ministry website it reads: “Women have been given the divine errand of nurturing. To nurture is to help something grow. This means that as women we are privileged with the responsibility to help all things with which we come into contact grow, whether it be ourselves, family, children, friends, organizations, companies, the Earth, etc.”
The Young Women General Board includes many powerful examples of women who have nurtured on a wide scale. These are women have used their talents to rear their own children and also sought to protect God’s “little ones” by working as teachers, advocates, judges, and public health faculty. On the Mormon Women Project website you can read about the YW General Board as well as many other women who have expanded their spheres of influence to protect children. Legislators, social workers, principals, lawyers, doctors, and good neighbors are just some of the roles LDS women play to ensure children’s well-being.
Some women’s work to protect children comes in the form of professional employment, while other women’s mighty efforts are performed as passionate volunteers. Corrie McArthur is an extraordinary example of the latter. Her first connection to the Foyer de Sion orphanage in Haiti came when she and her husband decided to adopt two little boys. But even after they had brought their own adopted boys safely home to the USA, Corrie couldn’t stop thinking about the other 300 children who were still struggling in the orphanage. Food there was scarce, and the ratio of staff to children was 30 to 1. Corrie decided that those “ones” who were outside of her immediate household were still part of her shepherding calling and joy. Over the last decade she has fundraised, advocated, facilitated adoption placements, managed the building of a new facility, coordinated the delivery of 5000 pounds food after the earthquake devastated the city (when the children were down to only a single meal a day), and more. Corrie is actively using her powerful nurturing talents to ensure that our Father’s little ones do not perish.
In Matthew 18:10, there is a brief scripture that contains some incredibly beautiful and enlightening perspectives. The verse says that children’s angels are always with God. “That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” To us this indicates a few profound ideas: 1) Children have angels and 2) Protecting children is such an important issue that these angels have God’s ear. Stunning information about the values of God.
What can each of us do to be an angel on Earth to fulfill God’s desire that no little children should perish?
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
Rescued from Exploitation, Stephanie Larsen
The reach has really surprised me. It’s incredible that sex trafficking happened in my own family for four generations. Along with our history came this internal drive to combat it, to end it. It’s a passion that just doesn’t stop, to protect these kids. I feel like that comes from the Lord.
Teaching Inner Strength, Marilynn Clark
After a series of discoveries, I knew there was something about Africa’s educational system that wasn’t preparing people to face life, and solving this problem is where I ultimately decided to focus my energies….People should proceed with whatever work shows up on their path. It doesn’t have to be in Africa. It can be next door. All of us have little promptings. Don’t turn your back on them.
Rooted In Learning, Shannon Cox
Every time I go to Haiti, I become more passionate about education. I’m afraid to take credit for anything that’s happened because I see the Lord’s hands in it so much. I know I need to remain humble so He will lead us and help us. Our co-founder’s mother said, “You have no idea what you are doing for these families. It’s literally like angels have come down and lifted them out of the mud and set them on solid ground.”
Help This Child, Vicki Dalia
A little boy, Samuel, was brought to our orphanage by his parents. He was almost dead. They didn’t have the money to take him by bus into the city to the hospital. Our orphanage director called me and said, “If we don’t help them, this child is going to die within the hour.” And I said, “Give them the money to buy a bus ticket to the hospital.” They took him in. He ended up having spinal meningitis. With the help of the wonderful email support group we have for the orphanage, we were able to raise $2,100 and get him the medical care and the medicine that he needed.
Read Mormon Women Project’s interviews with McArthur and Bethany.
Choosing God and Abundance, McArthur Krishna
Choosing Good and Making Change, Bethany Brady Spalding
Other Related Women’s Voices
The Words We Speak, Rosemary Wixom
Everyone within the sound of my voice has the power to increase a child’s confidence in himself or herself and to increase a child’s faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ through the words they speak.
Are We Not All Mothers?, Sheri Dew
As daughters of our Heavenly Father, and as daughters of Eve, we are all mothers and we have always been mothers. And we each have the responsibility to love and help lead the rising generation. How will our young women learn to live as women of God unless they see what women of God look like…
The Joy of Womanhood, Margaret D. Nadauld
Daughters of God know that it is the nurturing nature of women that can bring everlasting blessings, and they live to cultivate this divine attribute.