Last week I was reading Alma 27 in the Book of Mormon. You remember; it’s the chapter on Ammon taking the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s to Zarahemla. The sons of Mosiah had converted many, many Lamanites and they changed their name to Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s. They buried their weapons of war and began a new life, a “changed” life of a firm testimony of Christ. The Amalekites (who were descendants from the wicked King Noah’s priests and were half Nephite and half Lamanite) couldn’t satisfy their thirst for revenge and blood and had just returned from a battle with the Nephites; they turned on their own people the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s. Again these people refused to fight and many were killed. This caused Ammon and his brothers to pray for them and the Lord helped them leave and take flight in the wilderness toward the land of Zarahemla.
|Me and Elder Bybee on Aunuu|
Now these were people without a land – they couldn’t live in peace among the Lamanites (Amalikites) and they didn’t know how to approach the Nephites and beg for forgiveness. They even told Ammon they would become slaves to the Nephites. Ammon and his brothers went to the Chief Judge of the Nephites in Zarahemla and told him what had happened and about the Anti-Nephi-Lehi people. The chief judge didn’t condemn, he didn’t judge, he wanted to hear what the people would do. I love verses 21 – 24: the people came back with a reply of giving these people the Land of Jershon, giving them all the freedoms they possessed, and even putting an army around them to protect them. All they asked in return was a portion of their substance to support this army.
I have always been amazed by the charity of the Nephites. I have also always asked the questions, ‘Did the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s live among the people who were already in the land of Jershon or did all the people who formerly lived there leave?’ No matter, they were welcomed and given a way to live in peace and worship and maintain a life of being (verse 27) “. . . perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end.”
I have heard so many times how the Book of Mormon was written for our day and in a very special way, this was confirmed to me.
Each week I read and study a Conference talk to keep the words of our prophets and general officers living in my life until the next conference. I had just finished reading Alma 27 when I read Sister Burton’s message from the Women’s session of conference, I Was a Stranger. “There are more than 60 million refugees, including forcibly displaced people worldwide. Half of these are children. These individuals have undergone tremendous difficulties and starting over in new countries and cultures. . . . The First Presidency letter sent to the Church on October 27, 2015, expressed great concern and compassion for the millions of people who have fled their homes seeking relief from civil conflict and other hardships. The First Presidency invited individuals, families, and Church units to participate in Christlike service in local refugee relief projects and to contribute to the Church humanitarian fund, where practical.”
· These modern refugees can be likened to the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s. They are being driven out of their own countries by their own people (Amalicites) who in our day are non-Christian, terrorists who seek for power and authority and when someone doesn’t follow them, they seek to kill them.
· The refugees of today don’t have any place to go. Countries are rejecting them. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ prophet has asked us if we will help them. Just like the chief judge. We are given our agency to give support or withhold support. Humanitarian aid is our ‘land of Jershon.’
· A portion of the Anti-Nephi-Lehi’s was children. Who did these children grow up to become? The stripling warriors led by Helaman. Are there some among today’s refugees who could grow up to be the type of leaders of nations, communities, churches, etc. that will help us have a more peaceful life in our future because of what they are suffering now. Or do we turn our backs and let them be sucked into a world of terrorist retaliation?
I am so grateful to have read these two items at the same time. I have truly learned the importance of paying attention to the small amount of information Mormon (not even a hundredth part) included for us to have in the Book of Mormon.