Some years ago an insightful branch president was troubled over the growing list of “do not visits” reported by the branch’s home teachers. He called me in and asked if my companion and I would take the families on that list and see if we could build some goodwill with them. After prayerful consideration, we visited each family, expressing love and concern for their well-being and, with their permission, leaving a blessing on the home.
One by one, walls of resistance melted, and we made friends with each of these families, except one. The mother and two children of this particular family were members but were forbidden to attend church by the father. We were not allowed to even come to the home when the father was there for fear of stirring dissension in the family.
After considerable fasting and prayer about this family, we were prompted to do something we had already done for the others: send a gift subscription for the Ensign. More than a year passed, and we heard no more from that family until one day a man I vaguely remembered meeting came by my office.
“You probably don’t remember me,” he said as he shook my hand and proceeded to introduce himself. He was the father of the family we had not seen in more than a year.
“I just wanted to thank you for sending your Church magazine to my home.”
Then, with a reflective sigh, he went on, “At first I was kind of offended that someone would be so assuming without knowing whether I wanted it or not.
“When it came in the mail I’d just toss it aside, but somehow it would end up on the coffee table in the living room. After a while, I couldn’t help but pick it up and read a little here and there, until eventually I found myself reading every page of it.
“I just wanted you to know that it has brought about a better feeling in my home and that I appreciate your thoughtfulness.”
Hardly containing my emotions as we shook hands again, I thanked him for coming by and asked him to let me know if we might be of service to his family in any way. While he did not come into the Church during the time I lived in that area, it was most gratifying to see his wife and children once again actively participate with the other members of the branch.
It was a lesson to me that the Lord can soften even the most entrenched of hearts. It also testified to me that those who would resist the love and service of home teachers often do so out of a lack of understanding of what we represent.
Certainly the inspired messages contained in the Ensign can touch hearts, increase understanding, and bring positive change when conventional means of doing so fail.