In March 2013 I participated in a Priesthood Leadership Training meeting during which President Dieter F. Uchtdorf declared that if we want to come out of poverty, we must observe three things:
- Pay a full and honest tithe
- Pay a generous fast offering
- Render compassionate service
My dear Brothers and Sisters, my message concerns President Utchdorf’s third point: Compassionate Service.
Compassionate service is a service surrounded by sincere and profound love for others. As we become members of the Lord's church, we should have love for one another, for if we have love, we will be called disciples of the Lord (John 13: 34-35). As disciples of the Lord, we have a compelling duty to pattern our life after the Savior. Our life has to be such that no one can deny that we love the Savior and strive to follow Him and apply His teachings. The Savior taught us selfless service when He said, 'Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you” (John 13: 13-15).
This Church, which is the Lord’s only church, is perfectly organized such that every man, woman, and child may have an opportunity to do something good for somebody else. It is the obligation of every disciple of the Lord to serve and do God’s will. Our love for the Lord should translate into Christlike service.
President Thomas S. Monson said, ' We are surrounded by those in need of our attention, our encouragement, our support, our comfort, our kindness. We are the Lord’s hands here upon the earth, with the mandate to serve and to lift His children. He is dependent upon each of us.' We should do it without seeking glory, or to receive the reward from our Lord Jesus Christ. The people in the Africa Southeast Area are truly in need of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and we know that the Church, which is the Kingdom of God on earth, has a mission to all nations as the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ has said, ' Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28: 19-20). By following this exhortation, if we, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, apply the counsels of our prophet, I am convinced that our service to the inhabitants of this land will change their way of life, for ministering is the best way to care for and serve others.
To do so, we should seek love. It will be necessary that each of us diligently seeks this pure love of Christ. As Moroni put it so well in the Book of Mormon, 'Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him” (Moroni 7: 46-47). This is why we are called to love our loved ones, our neighbors, those around us – everyone, whether they be members of the Church or not. Who knows but that through our selfless service, they will someday become members.
Years ago I was a supervising physician in a Lumbumbashi hospital. One day during consultation, I met a young couple. The husband escorted his pregnant wife in to see me. After consulting with her and reviewing laboratory tests, I diagnosed her with severe anemia. The normal course of treatment would be to perform a blood transfusion, but she refused as her faith – Jehovah's Witness – forbade such a procedure. Instead, I recommended a treatment with medicine. They confessed that they had no money to pay for the consultation or treatment.
Knowing their financial situation, I went to the pharmacy and purchased all the needed medications. Then, I went to the cashier and paid for the laboratory tests and other related costs. When I came back to the office and told her what I had done, there were tears in her eyes. I told her I knew intimately that our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ would sustain her and give her this child—and that I would pray that it be so. One year later, in downtown Lubumbashi, I saw a couple carrying a child coming toward me. They stopped, and the woman said, “Doctor, here is the child you helped us have, and we will never forget what you did. Thank you so much”. With tears in my eyes, I took the child into my arms and silently thanked the Lord.
Our love for the Savior urges us to serve our fellowmen regardless of their religious affiliation. We should know that they are children of God and that we have the honor to serve them.
My wife, Séraphine, is an amazing person. When she received her patriarchal blessing, the Lord told her through the Patriarch, 'You are a teacher, a noble calling. In order for you to serve everyone, your Father has given you this teacher calling for you to serve Him. Serve Him by helping everyone, whether it be members of your own immediate family, or extended family, whether it be on your husband's family side, or on the Church side, feed them all and support everyone so that the work of God, our Father, may go forward.'
From the time she received this blessing, she has been serving and feeding everyone. No one can enter our home and leave without eating – even something small. I see my wife fulfilling her calling and really trying to keep it that way. If we all do our best to serve others, the work of our Father will go forward, and the world will be better because members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are serving one another and are serving their neighbors.
I know with all my heart that President Russell M. Nelson is truly God’s prophet. For many years, he has been prepared to be where he is today. I also know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the kingdom of God on earth and that the Lord directs it through His prophet. It is the only Church on earth where the priesthood is held by every worthy man, it is the only Church where a husband, holding the priesthood of the Lord, can lay his hands upon the head of his wife or children to give priesthood blessing.