Viewpoint: Reach Down and Lift Others

  From the Church News

  • 5 April 2013

President Monson has taught that we have a responsibility to extend help, as well as hope, to the hungry, to the homeless, and to the downtrodden, both at home and abroad.

“As we pursue the cause of Zion, each of us should prayerfully consider whether we are doing what we should and all that we should in the Lord’s eyes with respect to the poor and the needy.” —Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve

A new convert living in New York City began attending the Spanish-speaking ward in Harlem and participating in English classes taught by the missionaries. He felt lucky because construction work was hard to find in the winter, but he had a job.  

One Friday evening a member of the convert’s English class asked for help. “He asked me if I could help him find a job,” the convert recounted. “I asked God what I should do.”

On Monday morning the convert received his answer. He called his new friend and hired him to work with him on his job site. The pair worked together, with the convert paying his friend’s salary, for an entire week. “He had many necessities,” explained the new convert, “so I paid him out of my own salary.”

It is not surprising that after the new convert found the gospel, one of the first things he did was respond to an invitation to reach down and lift another. This, the Savior taught, is the first great commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself” (Luke 10:27).

President Thomas S. Monson has taught that each of us wears the mantle of charity, in a hundred small ways, each day.

Speaking in the General Relief Society Meeting in October 2010, President Monson said: “Life is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one is doing [his or] her best to deal with challenges which come [his or] her way, and may we strive to do our best to help out” (“Charity Never Faileth”).

The prophet Mormon teaches us that this kind of service to another “is the pure love of Christ” (Moroni 7:47). And “except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God” (Moroni 10:21) Moroni told the Lamanites.  

It is a message being modeled by members of the Church across the globe.

During the past quarter-century, the Church has provided assistance to nearly 30 million people in 179 countries. Much of that assistance came in the form of emergency response after disasters.     

In 2012, for example, the Church responded to 104 disasters in 52 countries.  And the help did not end there.     

Also in 2012, the Church provided clean water to 890,000 people in 36 countries, helped 51,000 people grow gardens in 16 countries, donated wheelchairs to 70,000 people in 61 countries, assisted 75,000 people with vision care in 24 countries, trained 28,000 in-country medical personnel in neonatal resuscitation in 40 countries, and participated in immunizing 8 million children in 13 countries.

Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve said that throughout history, the Lord has measured societies and individuals by how well they cared for the poor.

“We control the disposition of our means and resources, but we account to God for this stewardship over earthly things,” said Elder Christofferson during the October 2008 general conference. “It is gratifying to witness your generosity as you contribute to fast offerings and humanitarian projects. Over the years, the suffering of millions has been alleviated, and countless others have been enabled to help themselves through the generosity of the Saints. Nevertheless, as we pursue the cause of Zion, each of us should prayerfully consider whether we are doing what we should and all that we should in the Lord’s eyes with respect to the poor and the needy. …     

“In much of the world, we are entering upon unsettled economic times. Let us look after one another the very best we can. I remember the story of a Vietnamese family that fled Saigon in 1975 and ended up living in a small mobile home in Provo, Utah. A young man in the refugee family became the home teaching companion to a Brother Johnson who lived nearby with his large family. The boy related the following:

“ ‘One day Brother Johnson noticed that our family had no kitchen table. He appeared the next day with an odd-looking but very functional table that fit nicely against the trailer wall across from the kitchen sink and counters. I say odd-looking because two of the table legs matched the tabletop and two did not. Also, several small wooden pegs stuck out along one edge of the worn surface.

“ ‘Soon we used this unique table daily for food preparation and for eating some quick meals. …

“ ‘One evening I stood inside Brother Johnson’s front door as I waited for him before a home teaching appointment. There in the nearby kitchen—I was surprised to see it—was a table practically identical to the one they had given to my family. The only difference was that where our table had pegs, the Johnsons’ table had holes! I then realized that, seeing our need, this charitable man had cut his kitchen table in half and had built two new legs for each half.

“ ‘It was obvious that the Johnson family could not fit around this small piece of furniture—they probably didn’t fit comfortably around it when it was whole. …

“ ‘Throughout my life this kind act has been a powerful reminder of true giving’ ” (“Come to Zion”). 

President Monson said in an April 1990 general conference address that we have a responsibility to extend help, as well as hope, to the hungry, to the homeless, and to the downtrodden, both at home and abroad. “In a host of cities, where need has outdistanced help, lives have been lifted, hearts have been touched, and the frown of despair has been transformed to the smile of confidence, thanks to the generosity of the Church membership,” he said (“Conference Is Here”). 

That is the simple lesson taught to all of us by a new convert living in New York City.

After helping a friend by taking him to work and paying him from his own salary, the convert said, “I felt like I did something right. … The blessings I receive through the gospel are much greater than the salary I receive.”