Ministering to the One

Ministering to the One May 26, 2018

And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also.

 

Ministering is one of my spiritual gifts. It hasn’t always been a strong gift.

 

I remember the first time someone strong in Spirit took me along with him. I was 6 years old. We lived in a tiny farming community.  We attended a ward 55 miles away from our house. Dad took me home teaching with him, especially during mom’s months of pregnancy bedrest.

 

I vividly remember the Quinn family.  Brother Carl Quinn had white hair and sat in a wheelchair.  He and his adult daughter were Latter-day Saints, though not particpating. To support the family, his wife Petunia owned and operated a bar.

 

Dad visited Brother Quinn at his house and then took me to visit Petunia at the bar before it opened.  Dad was their home teacher for three years while we lived there. He consistently visited both of them and Petunia was baptized before we moved.  I’m not sure what she did with the bar.

 

Meet People Where They Are

 

Dad taught me to meet people where they are. He never worried if his visits were the “perfect” home visits. If he saw one of his families needing help, he hauled our family over to help. He invited his families over for dinner. He stood at the doorways with treats or bread and chatted about jobs or kids or the weather. He said he was their home teacher, but before long, he was their friend.

 

He expected the same kind of dedication as we served in our callings. Once when I was Laurel Class President, I told him about a girl who I’d never seen in our class. I felt nervous to go to her house and invite her to come. Knocking on strangers’ doors terrified me. He drove me over and waited in the car while I went to the door. I introduced myself to her and invited her to come to Mutual.

 

Dad reinforced the importance of going to someone’s house and knowing who they are. He never drove me on visits again but suggested I take my class presidency with me next time, which I did.  He also taught me that it’s easier to knock on an unknown door with something in my hand to give the person than just standing there awkwardly.

 

Seeing People as People

 

I’ve thought a lot about how dad’s attitude toward serving impacted my view of people and the world around me. His respect for people who crossed his path taught me to see people as PEOPLE and even more to see them as children of God, my brothers and sisters. And if they’re my brothers and sisters, why wouldn’t I want to talk story with them?

 

Dad’s approach taught me that others always have something to contribute. I can and should learn something from everyone around me.

 

These ministering lessons impacted the rest of my life.

 

Being Willing to Listen and Act with Faith

 

Serving as a missionary, I really recognized that activity in the Church did not equate to a testimony. My mission president put me in companionships where my primary purpose was to help a companion strengthen her testimony. I served in 19 companionships.

 

One companion had forgotten that God existed.  She’d been buffeted by so much opposition, she told our mission president she needed to go home because she didn’t believe God was real anymore.

 

Our mission president immediately moved me to be her companion and told me the situation on the phone. He asked me to call him when something changed.

 

I listened to my companion to find out what had happened and why she struggled with her belief in God. She told me her story. I asked if she was willing to ask God if He lived, just like we challenged our investigators to do. She did. She learned to recognize the hand of God in her life and to do His work with power. Within a month, her testimony was vibrant and active again.

 

And president moved me on to the next opportunity to serve.

 

I learned that all Heavenly Father needed to make a difference in someone’s life is a person who is willing to listen and serve with faith. That’s all He needs.

 

And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also.

Being Led By the Lord

 

There are times when I’m at a doorway in Ewa Beach with absolutely no idea what to do or say, but I know that the Holy Ghost sent me there. Most of the time people just need to know they’re not forgotten or that there’s a listening ear available.

 

Sometimes, the Holy Ghost gives me a message to tell them from the Lord.  Sometimes I’m excited to share the message. Sometimes I’m not.

 

Sometimes I feel paralyzed by the sheer magnitude of needs around me. If I feel alone in my ministry, then I know I’m not in sync with the Lord.

 

Alas, How Shall We Do?

 

Two of my favorite scripture stories demonstrate this:

 

In 2 Kings 6, the king of Syria sent his armies to capture Elisha, because Elisha kept thwarting the king’s battle plans. Elisha’s servant got up in the morning, walked outside, saw the armies surrounding them and said,

 

Alas, my master! how shall we do?

 

And Elisha answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.

 

And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

 

Sometimes I forget I’m in the Lord’s army!  He directs His hosts to sustain and protect as we feel surrounded and overwhelmed.

 

Elisha prayed that the Lord would smite the Syrian army with blindness, which He did.  Elisha then singlehandedly led the entire army out of the land. After leading the army to Samaria, Elisha prayed that the soldiers’ vision would be restored, which it was.

 

What Are They Among So Many?

 

Another story which teaches me a different way to access the Lord’s power is when Jesus fed the 5,000 at the Sea of Galilee. He asked his disciples how they’d feed the people.  They didn’t have the means or ability or even an idea of how to feed the people.

 

In John 6:9, Andrew responded There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

 

This is the ultimate overwhelm.  Yes, someone has some loaves and fishes.  But what are they among so many hungry people?

 

What is my piddly effort when there is such great need? By myself, it is nothing.  But the Savior can magnify even my small efforts.

 

And Jesus said, Make the men sit down….So the men sat down, in number about five thousand.

 

And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would.

 

When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.

 

Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves.

 

The Lord provides the way with our simple offerings. We simply have to be willing to give our offerings to Him and He will magnify them.

 

Ministering Outside the Box

 

Another thing these stories teach me is that ministering often requires us to think outside of the box!  The Lord can give us a very simple way to help others, but we may need to be willing to change the way we’ve always done things. Sometimes this kind of ministering can even happen at church.

 

In our Relief Society, we wanted to encourage unity and getting to know each sister by hearing everyone’s voice.  The Lord strongly prompted us to leave a Sunday without a specific teacher so we could invite sisters in the Relief Society to prepare and teach a lesson.

 

Many sisters in our Relief Society had never taught a lesson before or even had a calling before.  Sisters began participating and it’s changed our Relief Society!  We see someone’s heart when she stands to teach and the room is invested in her. Sisters’ teaching reaches and touch other sisters in ways a regular teacher might not.

 

We’ve had so many positive, visible responses to this simple prompting.  One really memorable one came last year.  Unknown to me, a recent convert struggled with a question about the Word of Wisdom.  She’d almost convinced herself that the question didn’t matter and, ultimately, maybe church didn’t matter.  A sister taught Relief Society in a very real, authentic way. She mentioned a personal struggle and how the Lord helped her overcome it.

 

The sister struggling with the Word of Wisdom question thought of the sister’s story through the week.  She said as she was grocery shopping, the Holy Ghost opened her mind and taught her the purpose of the Word of Wisdom in relation to her question.  She suddenly knew the answer and she was fine with it.

 

She shared this story while we were visiting teaching her. I was her visiting teacher!  We had no idea of her struggle with this question though we’d been consistent visiting teachers.

 

But because our Relief Society followed the prompting to ask the sisters to teach, a woman my counselor was inspired to ask touched this sister’s heart leading her to greater conversion.  The Lord magnified all of our efforts for her.  This happens over and over every month in Relief Society.  I feel we’re feasting at the Lord’s table and everyone has a chance to share.

 

Find Out Who She Is!

 

Another Relief Society lesson opened the floodgates for a sister I had never seen before in Relief Society.  I’m really good with names and faces and I had never met this woman.  The lesson was on unity and she started sharing how she felt like women in Relief Society were hypocritical and Relief Society was full of clicks. She did mention that she felt that way primarily in another ward and that’s why she didn’t come to our ward.

 

 

The Holy Ghost told me I HAD to talk to her.  She left Relief Society super fast. I tried to follow her to the parking lot but she was gone. I went back the Relief Society room and asked everyone in the room who she was. No one knew who she was!

 

Finally, a sister knew her name. I knew her name! She lived right by me! I’d been at her door several times but had only talked to the children.

 

I drove home, parked, told my husband I’d be back, and ran to her townhouse. I knocked on the door. The boys opened the door.  I said I had to see their mother.  They let me in.  I ran up the stairs and I introduced myself and said I appreciated her comments in Relief Society and wanted to talk to her about them.  She was so shocked that I’d come to her home and run up her stairs. We all just started laughing.

 

She told me her concerns. Her children started coming to church regularly.  I put her on our visiting route and we talked about her doctrinal questions and concerns. She started coming to church regularly. When directed, I moved her to another visiting teaching route. I admire her courage and perseverance. She is one of my dearest friends now.

 

Ministering … Like Chinese Bamboo

 

Effects of ministering are often slow. It reminds me how Chinese bamboo grows.  You plant it, water it, fertilize it and nothing happens.  For four years.  Then suddenly, it shoots up through the ground and into the sky.

 

My visiting teaching companion Kim and I experience this regularly on our visiting teaching route.  We started trying to visit one sister last October. We texted and called her. She never responded. We dropped off treats and left notes. Nothing.

 

We only knew what she looked like from pictures on Facebook.  One day we ran into her while visiting teaching someone else! We introduced ourselves. We kept messaging and texting. She started responding and scheduling appointments, but would always cancel.

 

In February, Kim felt prompted that we needed to offer to buy her lunch. She met us for lunch!  We had a great chat and shared the visiting teaching message.

 

She said she’d experienced a lot of people who try to set up visiting teaching appointments for a little while, but then give up. She told us she finally realized we were never going to give up and she might as well meet with us.

 

So we started taking her to lunch once a month to visit with her.

 

One day during lunch, she asked us if we’d study scriptures with her! Of course, we would!  We were so happily delighted with the request!

 

So the following week, we picked her up and went to the beach to read the Book of Mormon together. Now instead of going to lunch, we read the Book of Mormon together. We’ve read chapters on faith and baptism and miracles and repentance and the Savior’s love, whatever we feel prompted to read about.

 

We’ve seen a dramatic change in our relationship with her and her relationship with Heavenly Father.  She still hasn’t come to church, but she’s agreed to be a visiting teacher.  I take her to visit one person with me.

 

The last time we met with her she told us she’d stopped smoking.  We didn’t know she was smoking. We’ve never been in her home. This change showed me that we don’t have to know or address everything in someone’s life.  They really know what they need to do in their own lives.  As she felt love and acceptance from us and rekindled her relationship with Heavenly Father, she gained the strength from the Savior’s atonement that she needed to make changes.

 

Being There

 

To me, that’s the beauty of ministering.  She didn’t need someone telling her to stop smoking, she just needed someone there.

 

Often being there is not convenient, just like leaving the 99 sheep to go into the wilderness isn’t convenient for the Shepherd. But the rescue is always worth it.

 

The Rescue is Real

 

I will never forget when one of our visiting teaching sisters texted us one night that she was suicidal and wandering the streets barefoot. Kim drove up and down roads until she found her.  I was watching a movie and didn’t get the messages right away. When I did get the messages, I met them where they had parked on a side road. We talked.

 

Our bishop joined us to give her a blessing. That minivan was full of so much love.

 

I realized again how REAL the rescue is. The struggle for our sisters’ and brothers’ souls is every bit as real as the struggle for life that night.

 

The Lord Strengthens

 

And if any man among you be strong in the Spirit, let him take with him that is weak, that he may be edified in all meekness, that he may become strong also.

 

The Lord is strong and equips us with everything we need to strengthen ourselves, our families, and each other.  We have the Holy Ghost who warns and directs.  We have the Savior’s atonement that heals and strengthens and changes. We have ordinances and covenants set forth by a loving Heavenly Father to help us traverse mortality.

 

This is Father’s work and glory.  As we seek to do His will, He will magnify us beyond our abilities. He will strengthen us so that we can strengthen those around us.

(Delisa previously published Ministering to the One on ldsblogs.com.)

"Really awesome! I’m excited to take on this promise. Already I have felt a stronger ..."

President Nelson’s Promise-To See and Be ..."
"This reminds me of the time I was on my mission and first saw the ..."

Gratitude for the Canvas of God’s ..."
"Deep thoughts by Delisa. I would have laughed and said ok. I’ll do a head ..."

We’re All Going to Do Headstands–A ..."
"How can I gain that kind of Charity? I pray for it. Can you imagine ..."

My Dying Friend Believes in the ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!