Relief Society Leaders Ask Sisters to “Reach Out to Those in Need”

Contributed By Sister Linda K. Burton, Sister Carole M. Stephens, Sister Linda S. Reeves

  • 2 December 2015

Sharon Foster, 75, poses for a portrait at her home in Bountiful, Utah, on Wednesday, November 11, 2015. Around her are receiving blankets she has made.  Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Article Highlights

  • The recent call to action concerning refugees is the perfect opportunity to fulfill the purpose of Relief Society.
  • Begin by seeking the inspiration of the Lord individually and as families.

“Our Heavenly Father wishes to bless His children spiritually and temporally. He understands each of their needs, their pains, and their hopes. When we offer succor to anyone, the Savior feels it as if we reached out to succor Him.” —President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency

Three years ago, as a Relief Society general presidency, we spent a significant amount of time praying, pondering, and counseling together to understand what the Lord would have us do.

Three words continued to rise to the top in each of our discussions: Atonement, Covenants, and Unity.

We came to understand that to accomplish the purpose of Relief Society, which is to “help women prepare for the blessings of eternal life,” we would need to begin by helping our sisters recognize the need to increase their faith, and this faith must be centered in Jesus Christ and His Atonement. We knew that making and keeping sacred covenants would strengthen families and homes, and we realized that as we serve in unity with sisters of all ages and priesthood holders, we can better help those who are in need.

We wholeheartedly support the call to action issued recently by the First Presidency. Participating in this initiative is the perfect opportunity for us to fulfill each aspect of the purpose of Relief Society.

A letter from the First Presidency of the Church dated October 27, 2015, states:

“It is with great concern and compassion that we observe the plight of the millions of people around the world who have fled their homes seeking relief from civil conflict and other hardships. Thanks to the generous help of our members, the Church is providing assistance to migrants and refugees in several countries.

“Many Church members have inquired how they can provide additional assistance. Members may contribute to the Church Humanitarian Fund using the Tithing and Other Offerings donations slip. We also invite Church units, families, and individuals to participate in local refugee relief projects, where practical.

“May the Lord bless you as you render Christlike service to those in need.”

In all things, Jesus Christ, is our example. He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). As we increase our faith in Jesus Christ, we will be motivated to give Christlike service, which will help us become more like Him. President Henry B. Eyring taught: “Our Heavenly Father wishes to bless His children spiritually and temporally. He understands each of their needs, their pains, and their hopes. When we offer succor to anyone, the Savior feels it as if we reached out to succor Him” (“Is Not This the Fast That I Have Chosen?” Apr. 2015 general conference).

With over 61 million refugees in the world, there are many opportunities to provide relief, mentor, and serve close to home, in our own communities as our individual circumstances allow. There is something everyone can contribute, yet one may wonder, “What difference could I possibly make?”

Sharon Foster works on a receiving blanket at her home in Bountiful, Wednesday, November 11, 2015. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Begin by seeking the inspiration of the Lord individually and as families. What would He have me do to help? What time and resources do I have? What needed skills do I have? What might we do as a family?

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught: “In the end you must do in your area what disciples of Christ have done in every dispensation: counsel together, use all resources available, seek the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, ask the Lord for His confirmation, and then roll up your sleeves and go to work.

“I give you a promise: if you will follow this pattern, you will receive specific guidance as to the who, what, when, and where of providing in the Lord’s way” (“Providing in the Lord’s Way,” Oct. 2011 general conference).

Sharon Foster and her husband, Richard, work on a receiving blanket at their home in Bountiful, Wednesday, November 11, 2015. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Providing in the Lord’s way gives us an opportunity to keep our covenants as we show our willingness to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; … to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8–9). As we keep our covenants, our homes and families will be blessed.

No matter our age or life circumstance, everyone can contribute something. As we unite with the Brethren in this effort and serve in unity—reaching out to refugees among us—brothers and sisters of all ages can accomplish great things, doing what we are able, where we are.

Sister Sharon Foster heard that infants born to refugees were in need of receiving blankets. She has been struggling with ill health and was encouraged to stay down for a few weeks. But Sister Foster is not one to “stay down,” so she and her husband, Richard, went to work cutting fabric to make blankets and matching burp cloths. After sewing them together, Sister Foster hand crocheted a beautiful edge on each one. They have been engaged in this project for several weeks and make two sets each day. Each one is a gift made by loving hands and a heart filled with charity, the pure love of Jesus Christ. Each one symbolizes the Savior’s love wrapped around a child in need. Brother and Sister Foster have found a way to make a difference “to the one,” doing what they are able, where they are.

Sharon Foster works on a receiving blanket at her home in Bountiful, Wednesday, November 11, 2015. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.

Helping refugees can be as simple as being a sincere friend, making a visit, sharing a meal, teaching a new skill, or giving a ride. Sister Sharon Eubank, director of LDS Charities, the humanitarian arm of the Church, shared, “Although simple, they could mean all the difference to the neighbor you befriend.”

The scriptures teach, “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6), and very small things can make all the difference to someone in need when charity, the pure love of Jesus Christ, is the foundation.

To find out more about how to help in your community, see https://www.mormonchannel.org/blog/post/40-ways-to-help-refugees-in-your-community.

Sharon Foster works on a receiving blanket at her home in Bountiful, Wednesday, November 11, 2015. Photo by Ravell Call, Deseret News.