Monday, May 25, 2009

Search & Rescue

Brigham Young explained this principle in conjunction with the celebration of a day of thanksgiving on 1 January 1852. He taught the saints this:

“[Y]ou cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit, and be preparing for celestial glory, while the meanest menial under your charge or control, is in want of the smallest thing which God has given you power to supply . . .”
(Brigham Young, “Proclamation: For a Day of Praise and Thanksgiving for the Territory of Utah,” Ensign, Nov. 1971, 41)

Recently I was reading about the Martin & Willie handcart company. I was moved by the response of Brigham Young when he was brought news of their plight by Brother Richards. He “reported that there were hundreds of men, women, and children scattered over the long trail... They were in desperate trouble. Winter had come early. Snow-laden winds were howling across the highlands... Our people were hungry; their carts and their wagons were breaking down; their oxen dying. The people themselves were dying. All of them would perish unless they were rescued.”

The next morning Brigham Young stood in the tabernacle at the start of conference and said: “ ‘I will now give this people the subject and the text for the Elders who may speak... It is this... Many of our brethren and sisters are on the plains with handcarts, and probably many are now seven hundred miles from this place, and they must be brought here, we must send assistance to them. The text will be, “to get them here.”

“ ‘That is my religion; that is the dictation of the Holy Ghost that I possess. It is to save the people...

“ ‘I shall call upon the Bishops this day. I shall not wait until tomorrow, nor until the next day, for 60 good mule teams and 12 or 15 wagons. I do not want to send oxen. I want good horses and mules. They are in this Territory, and we must have them. Also 12 tons of flour and 40 good teamsters, besides those that drive the teams...

“ ‘I will tell you all that your faith, religion, and profession of religion, will never save one soul of you in the Celestial Kingdom of our God, unless you carry out just such principles as I am now teaching you. Go and bring in those people now on the plains’."
(in LeRoy R. Hafen and Ann W. Hafen, Handcarts to Zion [1960], 120–21).

Teams were rallied immediately, and lives were saved.

The phrase which has stayed in my mind is: “Go and bring in those people now on the plains”.

There are many people who are on the plains spiritually, but also emotionally, socially, physically and temporally. There are people within in our own families, and amongst our friends who are desperate to be brought in from the plains, and they lack the resources to be able to make it alone. They need our love and sensitivity, and sometimes our practical assistance. There are many organizations under the banner of “Search & Rescue”, what a wonderful title, one that is at the heart of the gospel.

There is One who gave us the perfect example to follow. He is able rescue us daily from pride, for He offers humility; hopelessness, for He instils hope; anger, for He fills us with His love. He says:

“Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.”
“... that I might draw all men unto me,...”

(3 Nephi 27:13 – 14)

I hope that we can follow our Saviour by searching for those who are "in want of the smallest thing which God has given you power to supply", that we too will be able to say: "that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me,... that I might draw all men unto [him],...".

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