Talk about an interesting start to the new week! Tuesday, Elder Hilborn and I had the awesome opportunity to substitute-teach early-morning seminary. We taught how men like Cyrus, King of Persia, can be inspired of God despite not being of our faith. Christopher Colombus, Martin Luther, and William Tyndale are names of a few more examples. It was a great lesson and we had much participation, surprisingly.
Wednesday at 10:00 am, Elder Hilborn and I went to an Ellis County Ministerial Alliance (ECMA) board meeting. This is a conference for pastors and ministers of all Christian faiths in the area. Because Elder Hilborn and I were invited by an investigator, Brandon Nimz (Nihmz), and thought it effective to get our information out as we endeavor to be active within the community, we felt it important to attend. I was surprised to feel the spirit in this meeting: the spirit of fellowship. All of these people (there were about 25 including us) were doing their best to help their fellow men with their needs and to bring them closer to Christ. Astounded, but pleased, I enjoyed myself very much. I sat next to a man named Jorge (hor • hey), a Spanish and Puerto Rican man who is a pastor for a church very near to the LDS church in town. He told me how much he loved this town because of the faith small communities, like Hays, generally have as opposed to bustling city-folk so intent on their careers. For a man not of our faith, the spirit was very strong within his heart. Interesting that I witness this after teaching about it in seminary exactly one day before. We have found many places to try to find volunteer work to begin our journey to becoming very involved with the community. The EMCA has a 'Statement of Purpose' I would like to share because I thought it was interesting, but also because I wish I could have some of these things instilled within me. There is something to be learned here.
"STATEMENT OF PURPOSE - ELLIS COUNTY MINISTERIAL ALLIANCE
Affirming the belief that the Spirit of Christ brings transformation and unity in the life of our community, our purpose is to:
- Provide a forum to address the spiritual issues of our community, including but not limited to assistance.
- Provide a forum for understanding and cooperation among the different churches throughout Ellis County
- Provide a setting in which clergy and ministering persons in the community may enjoy fellowship."
This is something genuinely good that good people are trying to do. I understand there are only two churches, the LDS Church and the 'Great and Abominable Church', but that doesn't mean the people within them are abominable too. They have real faith and Christlike attributes, but they are misdirected because these souls are lost. Please remember that we are all God's children. Most, if not all, of us are doing the best that we can.
2 Nephi 28:14 (concerning religious leaders of other faiths)
14 They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.
I felt a love for all the pastors and the ministers in the room by the end of the meeting. But because I am not perfect, I had creeping thoughts of judgement in the direction of these people in the beginning.
Matthew 7:3-5 says this:
3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
(A mote is a wooden sliver, a beam is similar to a two-by-four)
4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
5 Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.
A sinner am I to have judged righteously. They are all of them perhaps a better person than I. I'm not any better than them, I'm just blessed enough to have the fullness of the gospel that I so wish they would not harden their hearts against. But because proselyting would have been inappropriate, I demonstrated the gospel through my example. I prayed to have the spirit in my countenance, in my smile, in everything I did so long as I was obedient. I truly hope I made an impression on one of them.
Be better than me, friends and family, brothers and sisters. When putrid judgement enters your heart, share the gospel in any way you can. Even if it's simply the best celestial smile you can offer at the time. Even if their hearts are hard and their necks are stiff, their souls still crave the gospel of Jesus Christ. You are an example to these poor, lost sheep. Be kind to them. Love them. Even as Christ would in your shoes.
I love each and every one of you and I am sincerely so grateful for the prayers, support and love. You're truly making a difference to me, my mission, and our brothers and sisters I am teaching. Thank you!