As you well know, the people of Haiti are in desperate need. The earthquake that hit near the capital has already decimated the population and more are in danger as their injuries and wounds lie unattended. People from around the world have been congregating on the island to help, including an airplane full of returned LDS missionaries who served in Haiti, know people there, and speak the language fluently. Here is a brief account from one of those former missionaries serving as a medical doctor to the Haitian people he loves.
President Thomas S. Monson and his counselors have sent a message to all Mormons to contribute to Church Humanitarian Services, even despite current economic hardships:
Our hearts are filled with sadness as we have watched the suffering in Haiti in the wake of the devastating earthquake. We turn to the example of Jesus Christ who reached out to “lift up the hands which hang down” and “strengthen the feeble knees.” We are keenly aware that many in America are dealing with economic challenges caused by the recession. However, we are appealing to members to donate to Church Humanitarian Services as their means allow in order to help our Haitian brothers and sisters. Many have already contributed and others are anxious to do so.
Money is not the only need in Haiti. People are frightened, bewildered, and wholly uncertain about their future. In addition to what people can do in helping with food, water and shelter, there needs to be a calming influence over that troubled nation. We invite our people everywhere to supplicate God for a spirit of calm and peace among the people as urgent aid and reconstruction efforts continue.
I would like to extend this appeal to all those who read this blog.
There are many noble charities you may give to. If you donate to Church Humanitarian Services, one hundred percent of your money will go towards helping those in need. None of it goes to administrative overhead expenses. None. That is where I’ve sent my donation, and I intend to send more as I continue to reevaluate my wants and needs.
Please also pray for the survivors. Distress, panic, and fear are their worst enemies right now. Pray for angels to attend to them. Pray that they will feel Heavenly Father’s love. Pray that they will be given assurance of their future, and ask Him what more you can do.
I’m sitting here at work (it’s a very slow night) and I’ve just discovered your wonderful website. My wife, son and myself were baptized on Aug. 27th and we LOVE this Church, The Gospel, our new ward family (Buckeye 2nd), our Bishop and his counselors and all things LDS! We considered ourselves “Christians” but for some reason we couldn’t find a church where we felt “the Spirit” until we were invited to attend a Sunday service at our local meeting house. Wow! The love we felt and genuine interest in us (our family) and willingness to help with anything we needed (as we had just moved to the area) was immediately recognized as something that set these “Mormon folks” apart from the other “Christians” at other churches we were checking out. We instantly felt welcomed and loved by all. My wife and I now realize that Our Heavenly Father delivered us right into the hands of these wonderful people here in Buckeye, AZ. Being so new to the Gospel we are soaking everything up like little sponges and we feel we have our work cut out for us. Your website will definitely help us to learn as much as we can and I can’t wait to share it with my wife in the morning. Thank you for the great website!
A. If you asked a Mormon about the rapture, you might not get a clear answer. The word, “rapture” isn’t part of our vocabulary in this context, and you won’t hear a lesson about it on Sunday. As far as my research goes, there isn’t a consensus among other Christians concerning what the rapture is either, but the basic idea is that righteous individuals will experience Heavenly glory at an event where they encounter Christ. And yes, we believe that will happen.
Do we believe in the popular idea that all or even some of the righteous souls on this earth will all be taken away permanently, leaving the rest behind? No, this earth is God’s creation and He will not abandon it. In fact, quite the opposite will occur, and the earth will be burned at His coming (Nahum 1:3-5). This is a crucial part in returning the earth to a state like the Garden of Eden which is described by John as a “new heaven, and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1) and is symbolic of our personal conversion (Noah’s flood = Baptism. Renewal of the earth by fire = Baptism by fire and spirit. John 3:5). The righteous will be spared during this period and will live on the newly cleansed earth during the Millennium of Christ’s reign. The righteous that will be spared will be the honest and just people of the earth, not members of any specific church. This includes all people who are honest, chaste, and live according to their own level of light.
Prior to this renewal, God will be pouring as much light, truth and spirit onto the earth for our benefit. This is to help all to endure what may be termed the “tribulation,” another word not found in our vocabulary in this context. This coincides with our belief concerning the increasing wickedness and suffering that will exist before Second Coming of Christ. With God’s help, it is and will continue to be possible to be happy in spite of what is happening around us. And also because of God’s help, it is our responsibility to search out those in need of a caring heart.
The subject of the Second Coming is extremely complex in its details and yet very simple by nature. One could focus intently on every sign, every prophecy and every scripture and still miss the very point of the matter, that is, that Christ is returning and we must be ready to receive Him. Study the scriptures and the words of the prophets for yourself to learn about His gospel.
As individuals, we are citizens of our own respective country, wherever in the world that may be. A summary of our beliefs toward nation can be stated, “We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law” (12th Article of Faith). While living in our own country and dealing with others as well, we ought to act in accordance with the laws that exist. A governing power, when applied righteously, is crucial to provide the protection, support, and social stability that are absent in an anarchist state. For this, “we believe that governments were instituted of God for the benefit of man” (D&C 134:1).
This can be a sensitive issue and there have been those that break laws in the name of religion or those that are oppressed under unjust laws. To the first, the Lord says, “Let no man break the laws of the land, for he that keepeth the laws of God hath no need to break the laws of the land” (D&C 58:21); and to the latter, we are encouraged/commanded to take part in the governing process where we can. In church, I have been reminded to take part in the national election as a citizen, not as a member of my church. Taking part in national and local elections means more than merely voting, it means studying the issues, discussing them and making a decision based on my conscience and what I believe will yield the best possible outcome for the community and society. It is the responsibility of the people to see that they are represented in government. If they are not, then proper and righteous means must be used to remedy the situation.
I love the country where I live. I respect the freedom that it ensures to me and others. I lived in Brazil for two years and I found that the people there also loved their country in a similar way, and I respect that. Each person should be thankful for their blessings and love their homeland. We are aware that no government is perfect and that political squabbles can often be a grim shadow over our expectations, but our love translates into a desire to improve our nation, so that our children and grandchildren can experience that same love for their country.
There are fundamental questions that everyone eventually must ask themselves. “Why am I here? Where did I come from? Where am I going?” Whether one asks these under the pressures of daily life or with preponderance of a larger scheme, knowing the answer in the larger sense give perspective and meaning to that same question in the smaller sense. It is my endeavor here to put previously published articles on the subject into proper context and perspective in the meaning of life.
Before the foundations of this world were laid, God presented a plan to us, which we gladly accepted. This plan was to allow us to come to earth, gain bodies, experiences, learn, grow and prove (to ourselves) whether or not we would use our agency wisely and submit our will to our Father once we were down here. The integral part of that plan was the Atonement, a perfect sacrifice that would afford us the opportunity to overcome our weakness. Jesus Christ was chosen by the Father to fill this capacity and willingly submitted to His Father’s will. God testified of His part in our happiness when He said, “For behold, this is my work and my glory – to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39) He is deeply involved and concerned with our personal salvation.
As the planning came to an end, the first step was to create a world where we could live. This was done by Christ under the direction of the Father as told in the account given in the book of Genesis. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were placed in the garden of Eden where everything was provided for them.
While Adam and Eve lived in Eden, they lived in a state of innocence. That is, they had no knowledge of good or evil, of joy or pain, of sickness or health. They were limited in their capacity and opportunity to grow and experience life. That is why God gave them the choice to stay in the garden of Eden or partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. They chose to partake of the fruit and as a result, they were cast out of the garden. This was a known part of our Heavenly Father’s plan, however, and was provided for in the Atonement. This separation from God caused two kinds of death to enter the world: physical death and spiritual death. Physical death came in the form of aging and death. Spiritual death is a separation from God caused by our decisions to disobey His will for us.
To this day we must live in a world where spiritual and physical death as well as sorrow and pain exist. That does not mean we must continually be mourning. Our purpose here in life is actually to have joy. The prophet Lehi of the Book of Mormon stated, “Adam fell that men might be and men are that they might have joy.” (2 Ne. 2:25) In other words, the fall was a necessary part of the plan so that we might exist.
While in this life, we ought to be happy and we ought to be preparing to join God in His Heaven after this life. (Alma 34:32) The two go hand in hand. When we choose to prepare to meet God (that is, we choose to shun the evil and pursue the good), we will be happy because it is in God’s nature to be happy and everything that is good comes from God. Every decision we have to make has consequences. We are allowed in this life to choose but we cannot choose the consequences that our decisions incur. God has given us commandments to guide our decisions so that we might more fully enjoy life without being encumbered with additional pains. When we keep the commandments in our hearts and seek to obey them, God has promised a fuller and more abundant life.
Even after everything we could possibly do, there is no way to return to our Heavenly Father’s presence by ourselves. Remember the effects of the fall: spiritual and physical death. Every one of us has sinned, there is no way around it and even one sin would be enough to prevent one from living in the presence of God. In addition, every one of us will die. Our Heavenly Father knew of these things and, in His infinite mercy, planned for them, giving us a chance to change our lives and return to His presence.
By the Atonement of Jesus Christ, that great sacrifice that Christ gave Himself up for us, we can be cleansed from our sins and we will be resurrected to a perfect and glorious body. Christ has provided the way in which we can be perfected in Him, and only on the condition that we follow Him. We follow Him by following His example and by doing what He wants us to do, not what we want to do. We follow Him by believing in Him and loving Him. That is all that He asks us to do and in return, He promises to take away our sins and help us bear our burdens in life. What a glorious opportunity!
When death occurs, which it invariably does, the spirit is separated from the body and returns home to God who gave him life (Alma 40:11). That cognizant spirit will then be received in a state of happiness or a state of misery depending on how their life was lived. It is unknown exactly how this state is, what it’s like or even where it is but we do know that those that were righteous in this life will have rest and continue to teach others the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thus, even those who never had the chance before to learn about Jesus Christ will be able to accept Him. They will remain there to wait until the day of resurrection.
Eventually, every soul that has ever lived on this earth, be it an hour or a century, will be reunited with his or her own body. Everyone will be restored to the nature and attributes of the person in this life. The difference will be that everyone’s body will be perfect and immortal and that we will have a perfect knowledge of all our actions in this life, be they for good or for evil (2 Nephi 9:13-15). In such a state, we will all be brought to the presence of God to be judged by the Son (John 5:22) who has selected certain men, such as His apostles, to aid Him (Matt. 19:28). Our decisions in this life will be seen then by all and we will be exposed at that moment. Undoubtedly, those that squandered their lives and wasted their chances will feel utterly naked, with nothing to shield them. Others who followed Christ more fully will be able to stand joyfully before God and behold His face without shame, having been cleansed through Christ.
The Judgment will be to divide the sons of men from the sons of God. Those that never accepted Christ, neither in this life nor in the spirit world, will receive Telestial glory, which is compared to the stars. Those who accept Christ, but were not valiant in their belief will receive Terrestrial glory, which is compared to the moon. The others who accept Christ fully and held onto that belief firmly throughout their lives will receive a Celestial glory, which is compared to the sun and is the presence of God. These comparisons to the sun, moon and stars illustrate the differences between these kingdoms. The moon can outshine any star but the sun outshines them all. Even the smallest amount of this glory is more than we can imagine here on Earth and even the most vile of sinners can receive a portion of this unimaginable happiness.
In summary, the Plan of Salvation is a plan of happiness and progress to build us up and strengthen us through Jesus Christ. We fall individually and have fallen collectively due to Adam but we can rise again to a higher plane. We may not know what exactly the future will hold, but we do know that a loving Heavenly Father has created a plan for us to return to His presence. He has provided the path and the means for us but it falls to us to accept them so that we can return to His presence.