“Exercising Compassion,” Ensign, Feb. 2011, 48–50
In the parable of the lost sheep, the shepherd went after the lost sheep and searched until he found it. He then returned, rejoicing (see Luke 15:4–7).
In the parable of the lost coin, the widow lit a candle, which gave light, and swept every corner to find the coin. She rejoiced upon finding it (see Luke 15:8–10).
Both of these parables are examples of action taken to search, light up the darkness, and sweep until a treasured possession or lost soul is found and returned to a rejoicing home.
A good example of compassion and service making a difference is the example of Don and Marian Summers. While serving in England, they were asked to serve the last six months of their mission in the Swindon Branch to teach and assist in activating members. For 80 years Swindon had been a branch with a faithful few and with many good members becoming less active.
Don and Marian wrote: “Our first visit to Swindon Branch was a bit disheartening as we met with the Saints in a cold, rented hall. The congregation numbered 17, including President and Sister Hales and 4 missionaries. Still wearing our winter coats, we all huddled around a small, inadequate heater while we listened to a Sunday School lesson.”
The letter continued: “A branch member approached me one day: ‘Elder Summers, can I give you a bit of advice? Never mention the word tithing to the Swindon members; they really don’t believe in it, and all you will do is upset them.’”
Brother Summers said: “We did teach tithing and all the other gospel principles. With example and the encouragement of a branch president, there was a change of heart, and faith and activity started to increase. The membership records were completely updated as we visited every member’s home. When the leaders started caring, the members began to respond, and a whole new spirit pervaded the branch. The members became excited again about the gospel and helping one another. …
“One young couple had a difficult adjustment to make as their customs, manners, and dress were different. They became offended at suggestions for changes. The couple twice wrote to the bishop [since by then it was a ward] and asked to have their names removed from the Church records. In the last letter they forbade any of the members to visit them, so [we] went to the florist and purchased a beautiful plant of chrysanthemums and had it delivered to the young couple. It was a simple note: ‘We love you; we miss you; we need you. Please come back.’ Signed, Swindon Ward.
“The next Sunday was fast and testimony meeting and our last Sunday in Swindon. There were 103 members in attendance, compared to 17 six months before. The young couple was there, and in bearing his testimony, the husband thanked the Swindon Ward for not giving up on them.”
Each of us can have similar experiences in our local wards and branches by working with and loving those who are less active. What a joy it is to give “compassion, making a difference” (Jude 1:22) to those who may be ready to find themselves and then want to come back.