The Army of God

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.

Brother John

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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4 Responses to The Army of God

  1. Rusty says:

    I know this was over a year ago, but I’m new to your unblog, so I’m catching up. I was really happy to hear of your experience in South Korea and I whole-heartedly agree with you. Last summer I went to Israel for a tour and event. I was the only LDS person on a bus full of Christians. I have never been afraid of telling those I talk to one-on-one that I’m LDS. I had a Christian woman for a roommate. We read scriptures together and prayed together. I bore my testimony at times. I talked to many people and met some really amazing people. I had a feeling I would, but I was more amazed and even thrilled by what I found.
    Our tour guide was Catholic Armenian. His family has lived in Jerusalem for centuries. But he has worked with BYU professors to give tours for LDS people. He was talking to everyone on the bus about the beginnings of the Zionist movement when he said, “There was a man earlier who taught that the Jews would return. Do you know this man?” No one said anything. He said, “Are there any Mormons on the bus?” I quickly debated in my mind if I should raise my hand. Maybe 5 or 6 of the people on the bus already knew I am LDS. But I knew I would be opening myself up to some serious persecution if I raised my hand. I raised my hand anyway and trusted that it was the right thing to do. “You are Mormon?” our guide asked. I said, “Yes.” “You know this man?” he asked. “Yes…Joseph Smith taught that the Jews would return to Israel.” He agreed and then moved on to the rest of his topic.
    I thought, Okay, now I’ve done it. Let’s see what happens. Not one thing was said to me. No one attacked or even shunned me. Everything continued as before and the trip finished as wonderfully as it began. I think that perhaps the reason we find among our Christian friends people of tremendous faith is because that’s all they have. They don’t have the Priesthood, they don’t have temples and living prophets and all that we have. They have incorrect teachings and false priesthood working against them. But they have a love of Christ and faith, so they exercise that faith in amazing ways. For a long time I have believed that God honors that faith in miraculous ways. I know that in the days to come, we will lose some of our LDS friends to fear and we will gain friends among the faithful Christians who will refuse to deny their Savior. And they will be with us to greet the returning Messiah when He comes in glory.


  2. Raleigh Johnson says:

    Thanks for this experience. This outlines one of my greatest concerns about our position as the only true church. I see many men and women who are not members but who have the testimony and faith such as you described in the final 10% in Korea. I am so often put to shame when I compare their wonderful faith to my mini-faith. I would be interested in hearing more about your feelings of the “callings” of so many faithful who know little or nothing about the restored church. And why do we as a people and church seem to have so little insight into the actual power of faith and the priesthood? We seem to be the candle covered with the bushel basket. Even more, as a church we seem to not even recognize we have any light to broadcast to the world. No radio or TV programs to teach the gospel in power, no real member missionary effort, … What is to become of us?


  3. Chris says:

    Wow! This put me in my place. Thank you, I needed that. It isn’t just us.


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