Saturday, May 22, 2010

Prayer of the Children

When I was a missionary in Montreal I had many experiences that showed My Heavenly Father’s love for me and for His children. The last area I served in was one of a handful of areas in our mission appropriately deemed “BMW areas”. The missionaries considered the BMW areas to have the best, most exclusive modes of transportation in the entire mission. There were only a few such coveted areas on the island of Montreal, thus every missionary in the Canada Montreal Mission wanted to serve in one of the BMW areas. A BMW area meant that the missionary would have plenty of exercise and would be able to avoid the oh so common “Canadian Tire”, an extra layer around the missionary’s middle which testified of all the delectable dinner appointments we received from the wonderful members in Canada. Missionaries in BMW areas were allowed the privilege of using the very advanced and highly effective public transit system. Every where we went, we either used the Buses, the Metro, or we Walked, hence BMW. This ensured the missionaries were on their feet and walking or running to appointments many times a day and could more effectively burn off those unwanted calories. Imagine my thrill as I found out my last area would lend me great opportunities to leave my well earned Canadian Tire in Canada, where it belonged. It afforded me the opportunity to go home and look somewhat as lean as I had when I had left home 18 months previously. I was thrilled.

In addition to the physical aspect of the BMW areas, being on the busses and Metro gave the missionaries countless opportunities to open our mouths. We were able to speak to many different people and share our testimonies of the gospel of Jesus Christ and of The Book of Mormon as Another Testament of Jesus Christ. One such incident still stands out in my mind. My companion and I were on a crowded city bus one late evening on our way back to our apartment after a busy day of proselyting. A man noticed our name tags and asked us about them. We proceeded to explain that we were missionaries of the Lord Jesus Christ and that we had a message about His gospel. He immediately noticed our accents and asked us where we were from. We told him and then he inquired about our salary. We told him there was no salary and that we in fact pay our own way as missionaries. The man looked aghast, “Why would you ever leave your jobs and lives for so long without pay? You are young; surly you should be in college! Why on earth would you leave for something like this?”

My companion and I took the opportunity to share with him our love for the Savior and our testimonies that His church had been restored on the earth once more. The man was skeptical at best. He kept questioning why we would do such a crazy thing. We kept bearing testimony, yet he still could not understand. As we left the bus he looked at us very sarcastically and said, “Good luck with that.” We could tell he thought us very foolish.

I have never seen that man since, and I will very likely go the rest of my life without ever crossing his path again.

Yet, the testimony bore on the bus that cold Canadian winter evening proved to be very significant. A few days later my companion and I received a request for a copy of the Book of Mormon. At that time the church was televising commercials about the Book of Mormon. People could call the number on the screen and receive a free copy of the book. They had the option to let representatives of the church (missionaries) deliver the book as well as share a message about the gospel.

The next afternoon, during a slow part of our day, we showed up at the address printed on the Book of Mormon request form. As the door opened we were met by the friendly eyes of a young man from South Africa, named Edgar. He looked at us in disbelief as he invited us into his home.

We told Edgar who we were and explained that we wanted to give him the free Book of Mormon that he had ordered. He simply said, “I know who you are.”

A glance passed between my companion and I, we were both baffled. “Have we met before?” I asked.

“No, but I have seen you missionaries on the bus.”

“Oh, ya, we are always on the bus. There are many missionaries on the buses here in Montreal, I’m sure you have seen some missionaries around town.”

“No”, Edgar replied, “I have seen you.” He went on the say that he had been sitting on the bus the night my companion and I were telling the stranger of our testimonies and our desires to serve the Lord. He said he listened to our whole conversation with the man; he even passed his stop in order hear the rest of our conversation. His heart had been touched by the power in our words. As he made it to his apartment that evening he turned on the television and saw a commercial for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He recognized the name of the church as the same he had heard on the bus that very night. He was curious and wanted to know more. He ordered a copy of the Book of Mormon in order to find out why we thought a simple book could possibly be worth leaving our homes and families and lives to teach the world about. When he found us on his door step he was shocked and gladdened to see us, the very girls on the bus, standing there and ready to share our message with him.

We made a very good friend that day in Montreal. Edgar was so eager to accept the gospel. Edgar was from South Africa, he had just made it to Canada a few short weeks prior to our meeting. He had escaped South Africa to Canada for peace and safety from the horrible genocides and civil wars that were tearing his country apart. His heart was heavy with the loss of many family members to that awful war. He was working hard to bring the rest of his surviving family members to the safety of Canada. His soul was heavy and he wanted so badly for his family to enjoy the safety and peace he now enjoyed. In Canada Edgar found the peace he had been searching for, not only the peace from a nation at war, but peace to his soul as well.

Not long after we starting meeting with Edgar, he started to attend church services with us. After Edgar had been coming to church for a few weeks he very timidly asked if he could invite a friend to attend with him. Of course we were thrilled. The following Sunday we met Edgar’s friend, Lawrence. Edgar and Lawrence had been friends in South Africa and usually spent Sunday afternoons visiting with each other. Lawrence had been confused the past few weeks as to why his good friend suddenly ended their visits. Edgar explained that he had been attending church. Lawrence was immediately offended that Edgar had not told him about this church sooner.

Edgar and Lawrence were soon baptized. Whenever I think of Edgar and Lawrence the lyrics of a song written by Curt Bestor touch my heart.

Prayer of the Children

Can you hear the prayer of the children?
On bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room
Empty eyes with no more tears to cry
Turning heavenward toward the light

Crying Jesus, help me
To see the morning light-of one more day
But if I should die before I wake,
I pray my soul to take

Can you feel the hearts of the children?
Aching for home, for something of their very own
Reaching hands, with nothing to hold on to,
But hope for a better day, a better day

Crying Jesus, help me
To feel the love again in my own land
But if unknown roads lead away from home,
Give me loving arms, away from harm

Can you hear the voice of the children?
Softly pleading for silence in a shattered world?
Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate,
Blood of the innocent on their hands

Crying Jesus, help me
To feel the sun again upon my face,
For when darkness clears I know you're near,
Bringing peace again

Dali cujete sve djecje molitive?
(Croatian translation:
'Can you hear all the children's prayers?')
Can you hear the prayer of the children?

The Lord did if fact hear the payers of his child Edgar. He literally encircled His son in His everlasting arms of love and mercy. He saved his life and he calmed his soul. I felt the love that the Lord had for his son, Edgar. Every time we went to teach him, I thought about all the horrible things Edgar had witnessed in his country. It broke my heart. I wished with all my might that I could take away the pain that those experiences caused my dear, dear friend. One day it occurred to me that Christ feels the very same way about all of us. When He sees us in pain, either caused by our own wrong choices or by the choices of others, He wants so much to take our pain away. In fact he provided a way for us to cast our pain on Him. That’s what the atonement is all about. He loves Edgar and through the atonement of Jesus Christ Edgar felt the love of his Savior and was again brought to a place of peace.


Jackie said...

This post made me cry

Karen said...

Thank-you for this beautiful story. Your words were so true and inspirational.