“When saw we thee a stranger?”

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If you browse through the archives of my blog, including the past seven years on my older blog, you will not find any political posts. Not one. You would, however, find a bucket-load of posts about my testimony of following the counsel of living prophets. So with that in mind, I’d like to attempt a commentary upon recent prophetic direction, with the cautious understanding that the issue at hand is very political to some.

Since the scriptures lay out very clear, dismal prophecies about the state of our world in the years leading up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, the current events involving war and terror and the failing hearts of men should not be a great surprise to us. The news is sad and shocking, to be sure, but not unexpected. One of the somber results of these events is the ongoing crisis of refugees–individuals who are fleeing war-ravaged and dangerous homelands in search of safety and some measure of peace. Their stories and suffering are heartbreaking.

In fact, a recent letter from the First Presidency states,

“It is with great concern and compassion that we observe the plight of the millions of people around the world who have fled their homes seeking relief from civil conflict and other hardships.”

That same letter encourages members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to make donations to the Church Humanitarian Fund, which will be used to aid refugees throughout the world, and also asks members to “participate in local relief projects, where practical”(emphasis added). I cannot find anything in their statement that makes any distinction about the religion of said refugees.

After 9/11, we Americans were shaken and fearful because of the threat we felt to our own safety and comfort, so we empathize greatly with our French brothers and sisters who are now experiencing many of those same emotions following their own tragedy. The wariness and anger are natural reactions to such a wicked act. However, in October 2001, just a few short weeks after the attacks on the Twin Towers, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then serving as president of the church, stated:

“The terrible forces of evil must be confronted and held accountable for their actions. This is not a matter of Christian against Muslim. I am pleased that food is being dropped to the hungry people of a targeted nation. We value our Muslim neighbors across the world and hope that those who live by the tenets of their faith will not suffer. I ask particularly that our own people do not become a party in any way to the persecution of the innocent. Rather, let us be friendly and helpful, protective and supportive. It is the terrorist organizations that must be ferreted out and brought down.

… Let us be prayerful. Let us pray for righteousness. Let us pray for the forces of good. Let us reach out to help men and women of goodwill, whatever their religious persuasion and wherever they live. Let us stand firm against evil, both at home and abroad. Let us live worthy of the blessings of heaven, reforming our lives where necessary and looking to Him, the Father of us all.”

I cannot and should not tell anyone what to do, how to think, or whom to vote for, but I do believe that we who call ourselves Christians must be willing to do something to show charity toward God’s suffering children. I don’t know exactly what it should be, but I keep thinking of the Savior’s answer to his disciples’ questions, “When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?… When saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?” His reply: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” If you’re struggling with how to best respond, I invite you to follow President Ucthdorf’s advice and apply it to this matter as well as all issues that are hard to process and understand.

“We live in a time when the scriptures and the words of modern-day prophets are more easily accessible than at any time in the history of the world. However, it is our privilege and duty, and it is our responsibility to reach out and grasp their teachings.”

I can only share my own assurance of the peace that comes to me when I’m trying to sort out these difficult issues in my own mind, and I seek out and really study and think about what the prophets and apostles are saying about them. Personal revelation comes about how to act when we are truly seeking God’s will and His word.

EXTRA RESOURCES: Here are a few items that have been helpful to me in focusing my desire to help.

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