I had an amazing experience in the early 90’s. I was invited to go to South Korea to attend a Christian Minister’s Conference. I was a High Priest at the time, and the organizers of this event considered that to be a minister. I saw it as a free trip to South Korea.
We arrived in Seoul to find that they had put us up in 5-star accommodations. The room, the food, the service was world class. They treated us with high deference. I wasn’t expecting anything like this.
Our first meeting the next day they told us that we had not been invited to South Korea to be taught any form of doctrine, but rather to be exposed to what other Christian leaders believed and hoped and loved. They wanted us to learn that every person in that room was our brother and sister, not our enemy. They wanted us to unite in the cause of Christ, and cease from spending our energies fighting one another. Fight against evil, they said, not against your brother.
From that day onward the various Christian ministers began putting on worship services each morning. Since there were about 250 ministers and their wives in our group, I saw a lot of services. In-between these services, our host organization worked very hard to involve us with one another. We sang in choirs, went on historic tours, prayed together, did service work together, and discussed our beliefs.
We were in Korea for 10 very interesting days. In that length of time I got to know these people very well.
At first, there was a strong “oh, you’re Mormon’s” kind of dismissal. As the time evolved, their suspicion and rejection turned to acceptance and love. We took many opportunities to bear testimony of Christ, and to openly adore Him.
My point of this story is something much more meaningful than acceptance.
I was very interested to observe that of the 250 professional ministers present, about 10% of them had no Spirit with them at all. They were there for some other reason than to serve God. Their faces were dark, and they spoke rapidly when preaching, usually with a lot of musical talent and showmanship.
About 30% of the group were approaching their profession like a business. They were the “How to Win Friends and Influence People” group. They were determined, and they loved their job, but were motivated more or less by what they could get out of it. These were often the most antagonistic toward our little gaggle of “Mormons”. They were competitive, willing to be aggressive, and generally not teachable. They made references to how big their churches were, how many followers they had, and how wealthy they were.
About an additional 50% of the group loved their Savior. This is what interested me the most. I could see in these people’s faces true dedication. Their faces shone when they bore testimony. They were honest, open and dedicated to Christ. They would do anything, go anywhere, and say anything the Lord sent them to do. They often spoke of hearing Christ’s voice, of being inspired to do or say something, and of experiencing miraculous results. I found myself at home and at ease among this group. Most of them did not judge me because of my religion. When I said I loved my Savior, they accepted the truth of my words, and rejoiced in it. This group occasionally asked me questions about our church, and listened with open interest. They wanted to know, and didn’t seem inclined to criticize.
The group that really interested me was the final 10%. This little group was as spiritually significant as any Stake President or General Authority I have ever met. They were astonishing. They literally glowed in the dark. They seemed to have no agenda other than to walk in Christ’s path. They loved everyone, and seemed to have nothing to prove. They just went forth and did whatever they could. When they preached, they were soft spoken, yet firm and studied in their belief. It was this group that startled me. I wasn’t expecting to find people of such godly stature among a “Christian Minister’s Conference” in Seoul Korea.
At the end of the ten days conference, my father and mother went to the airport to go home, only to find out that they did not have reservations on the plane out. They were told that it would be 48 hours before another direct flight could be arranged. They were on their own, in a foreign country, without enough money to afford two more days in a 5-star hotel.
One of their fellow Christians saw that they were distressed, and walked up and put her arms around them. After finding out what was wrong, she asked, “what is it that you want the Lord to do for you?”
My Dad said, “well, we need a flight home today, and since we’re just asking, I’d like to fly first class.” He was kind of joking, and kind of not.
This sweet Christian lady bowed her head and with a hand on each of my parent’s shoulders, prayed out loud for these things. When she was done, they announced her flight, and she hurried away. Her parting words were, “just stay right there. The Lord will take care of you now!”
Mom and Dad stood there for about 10 minutes. A Korean guy said something to them in Korean, and led them to a lady with a clipboard. That lady took them to another counter and handed them two tickets. They boarded a plane and were shown to first-class seats. They arrived home ahead of the flight they had missed. It was a miracle of faith.
Here is my point – these fine Christian people did not have the fullness of the Gospel as we have it. They don’t have the priesthood, or the temples, or the latter-day scriptures. What they do have, in my opinion, is a calling in these the latter days.
While we have a sword, and full armor, and every weapon known to spiritual warfare, they have picked up their little wooden swords and courageously taken their places in the armies of God.
What they are doing is so valuable, and so indispensible to what we are doing, that if they were to stop or be stopped, that our work would be instantly overwhelmed by evil. There can be little doubt that their work is foundational to our work. We harvest from the fields they plant. The angels that “do the work of the covenants of the Father” among us, also labor among them.
There is no accident involved in someone having a testimony of and calling from Christ. It isn’t just convenient for us that there are 1,000,000-plus Christian faithful willing to give everything they have to the same cause we embrace. These things are the workmanship of God.
So, why would an angel appear to little-old-me?
It is because you are at the front of this mighty latter-day army of God, carrying the standard of truth. If we cannot succeed without our Christian brethren, imagine what eternal disaster would befall this world if we falter, if we lay down our priesthood swords because we didn’t feel important enough, or strong enough, or worthy enough to have angels attend and defend us.
We are the cutting edge of everything righteous in this world. We will build the latter-day Zion standing upon mountains thrown up by our Christian brethren, who then join us in this joyous cause.
Let us move ever onward and upward, we, the latter-day army of God, men, women and angels.