As I browsed the headlines a little while back, an article by columnist Jana Riess criticizing faith caught my attention. “For Latter-day Saints, a General Conference to remember — but let’s leave our smugness at the door.” It caught my attention because I recognized the twist on President Nelson’s own words.
April will be not only memorable; it will be unforgettable.President Russell M. Nelson
At first, she explained a little about the conference, and how she expected it to be about the First Vision. Then, Ms. Riess went on to explain how this conference would be televised via livestream. Next, she pointed out how the church leadership responded so well to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then, in a total twist away from this lengthy introduction, she began criticizing.
Ms. Riess took the opportunity to share several thoughts from other members of the Church of Jesus Christ. Specifically, she shared their testimonies, or intimate thoughts about their beliefs. I would prefer to explain those thoughts in my own words, so…
All Is Safely Gathered In
In a previous post, I explained how the Church of Jesus Christ teaches self-reliance and preparedness. Because of this, the majority of the membership had no problem with simply staying home. Several members have shared their testimonies about this inspired program.
Come Follow Me
At the October 2018 General Conference, the first presidency introduced the Come Follow Me program. This specific curriculum focuses on teaching the gospel from home. Because of that, and existing Priesthood organization, Families were prepared to host church meetings at home. Many members of the Church of Jesus Christ bore their testimonies about that as well.
Farther back, in April 2018, the first presidency made ministering a priority. They went so far as to eliminate the Home and Visiting Teaching programs. The two of them had become more of a check in the box than initially intended. So, ministering made getting to know, and caring for the individual needs of everyone a priority. This made reacting to COVID-19 a simple matter of a phone call that spread instructions, aid, and special needs like wildfire. Again, something that people shared as true inspiration.
Called of God
The last piece that Ms. Riess brought up actually made sense on its own. President Russell M. Nelson, a world renowned surgeon happened to be the Prophet during this time. Between his experience, and inspiration, he reacted real-time to the novel coronavirus 2019.
Along those same lines, when President Nelson called Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf to be over the Missionary program, people complained. However, no other man had the experience with commercial airlines, and could coordinate bringing the young men and women from around the world home.
Both of these specific callings were amazing coincidences, or inspired of God. Because of my faith, I believe that those men were exactly where they needed to be.
Sharing Her Faith?
At this point, I wondered what she could possibly by writing about. Most opinion pieces in that particular paper criticize the Church of Jesus Christ. So I continued reading, and it hit me dead on the nose, she was using the COVID-19 victims. Apparently, sharing your feelings of personal reverence while other people suffer strikes her as smug.
Ms. Riess then called on the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ to use the platform for General Conference to “construct a narrative.” She feels that the Church of Jesus Christ doesn’t do enough to help the rest of the world. Apparently, in the face of COVID-19, the response wasn’t enough.
Aside from using the testimonies of some members to criticize the Church of Jesus Christ, Ms. Riess also used another article. She pointed out that the offerings of the members should be used in excess to create social programs. Making it seem as though the Church of Jesus Christ doesn’t provide a solid safety net for communities around the world.
The Aftermath of the April 2020 General Conference
Ms. Riess followed up her article immediately after the General Conference by calling the words of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve a “Lead Balloon.” Her focus seemed entirely on a proclamation made by them concerning the restoration. While I feel that was the most spiritual event of an extremely spiritual weekend, it wasn’t what she was looking for.
However, in the scriptures it specifically says that if you seek, you will find. I passively looked for the answer, and what I found blew me away.
“Let us put our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ into action! …as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and an Apostle of Jesus Christ, I know that God ‘has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding;’
“I am calling for another worldwide fast. For all whose health may permit, let us fast, pray, and unite our faith once again. Let us prayerfully plead for relief from this global pandemic.
“I invite all, including those not of our faith, to fast and pray on Good Friday, April 10, that the present pandemic may be controlled, caregivers protected, the economy strengthened, and life normalized.
“How do we fast? Two meals or a period of 24 hours is customary. But you decide what would constitute a sacrifice for you, as you remember the supreme sacrifice the Savior made for you. Let us unite in pleading for healing throughout the world.
“Good Friday would be the perfect day to have our Heavenly Father and His Son hear us!”President Russell M. Nelson
So Now What?
After that, someone began a small group on Social Media. In this group, they began inviting everyone they knew regardless of faith, denomination, social situation, sex/gender, personal preferences, etcetera. I myself received an invitation from a member of my own ward. At last count, I saw over 335 thousand people from every walk of life pledging to join us. The amusing bit, was that a large number of them weren’t from our faith.
With less than twenty-four hours until the fast begins, I still offer my invitation to anyone who reads this to join.