There If Needed; Off if Not

There If Needed; Off if Not July 3, 2024

Outstretched hand indicates individual ready to be there as needed.

The Apostle Philip, serving effectively in Samaria, was sent by a an angel to a desert road he had no idea he was going to follow. Odd or strange for most perhaps, but not for Philip (see Acts 8). He was serving Christ. He might be instructed by a voice, blessed with a vision or dream,  given a “feeling” of wrong or right, or visited by an angel. But when Christ beckoned, Philip went there if needed.

Philip—Where He Was Sent

Christ’s apostles and followers were there if needed, then might be off again when not needed. As Philip walked along  the road, he met a eunuch, who was in a position of power and influence in Ethiopia. This eunuch was reading to himself aloud from Isaiah (53:32-33).

He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:
In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.

The eunuch did not understand this passage. The spirit directed Philip to approach him. “I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?” he questioned. Philip read the scripture aloud and taught him about Jesus.

As they walked together, the eunuch noted, “See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?” Nothing hindered, and Philip baptized him. The place was prepared, as was the man’s heart, and Philip was brought to complete the teaching and the ordinance.

 Might Philip have opened a mission in Ethiopia? No, he was not called there. Philip disappeared; the eunuch “went on his way rejoicing.” Back in Samaria, Philip taught, and the people “with one accord” believed. Many were healed, and the city experienced “great joy.” In both the brief calling in the desert and the longer, more complex calling to Samaria, Philip was there if needed.

Today’s Missionaries—When Called and Guided

Today the Lord continues to depend on those who will go where He needs them, when He needs them, because they need him. Settings and societies are totally different from those of early disciples like Philip. Unchanged, however, are God’s incredible love and His joy in bringing needs and service together. Missionaries are told where they are needed and what they must do.

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf has expressed eternal gratitude to missionaries who were prompted to tract through an apartment building in the area of Germany where he lived as a young man. At the last door on the final floor, a young girl answered and asked her mother to receive them. Her 36-year-old mother was mourning the recent death of her husband, and was not interested in missionaries. But the girl was interested and persuaded her mother for a quick visit. The missionaries gave her a Book of Mormon. Elder Uchtdorf recalled,

After they left, the mother decided she would read at least a few pages.

She finished the entire book within a few days.

Not long after, this wonderful single-parent family entered the waters of baptism.

Harriet, the girl who answered the door, later became the wife of Elder Uchtdorf, deeply loved by Him and today enjoyed by the entire Church.

God prompts others when the missionaries need them. A missionary from U.S., who was serving “half-way around the world,” and his companion needed help, and they knew how to get it. They were stuck in a town far from their home and had missed public transportation of the day. Needing to get home for an obligation, they prayed and felt prompted to start walking down the main road.

 Right away a car pulled up, and the driver told them to get in. Very few people in their ward had cars, but one who did felt inspired to turn in to a town where he had had no intention to go. The missionaries arrived just in time to keep their appointment and also to administer blessings to two sick friends.

The missionaries prompted to knock on the last door on a top floor, those praying for transportation to an appointment, and a ward member who was in his car obeyed promptings to go where God knew they were needed. Like Philip, they brought blessings in God’s name.

A Prophet—Always There if Needed

 As he shook hands with a stake president in Australia, a complete stranger to him, Thomas S. Monson had a “strong impression” to consult with him. They arranged a time. The stake president had been praying for this time to receive counsel. He received exactly the answers he needed.

Elder Monson was impressed that he and his wife, Francis, should visit a former ward member in a care center—Zella, a blind widow. Though “extremely frail,” she recognized their voices and asked for a particular blessing: “If the Lord wanted her to return home,” she was ready. She had “prayed fervently” that he would come. He blessed and kissed her. She died the following day. He concluded, “To have been able to provide some comfort and peace to our sweet Zella was a blessing to her and to me.”

Unusual incidents?—not for Thomas S. Monson; they were the pattern of his daily life. He was there if needed. Recounting these experiences, he concluded, “Our Heavenly Father is aware of our needs . . . no concern of ours is too small or insignificant.”

He walked into huge gatherings and immediately saw who he was to set apart for a specific calling, who had a child or missionary needing a blessing, or who required his personal comfort for loss or suffering. “There are feet to steady, hands to grasp, minds to encourage, hearts to inspire, and  souls to save.” His biography is appropriately titled To the Rescue.

 This heartfelt testimony expressed Thomas Monson’s desire for all of us.

 The sweetest experience in all this life is to feel His promptings as He directs in the furtherance of His work  . . . I testify each one of us can feel the Lord’s inspiration as we live worthily and strive to serve Him.


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