Posts Tagged ‘Mormons’

Liahona Children’s Foundation – Humanitarian Service to the Children

Friday, July 11th, 2014

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a global Church, which according to the latest Church statistics, has 15,082,028 members worldwide and still growing. One of the overarching goals of The Church of Jesus Christ is to fulfill the Lord’s Great Commission to take the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ to the far-reaching corners of the earth.

As members go forth to share the “Good News,” they find that a large part of having an effective ministry involves providing humanitarian assistance to those who live under less fortunate circumstances. It is for this reason that the “Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them” (Moses 7:18). As members strive to emulate the life of the Savior, they begin to fully understand what it means to “lift up the hands which hang down, and [stable] the feeble knees” (Hebrews 12:12).

The Church of Jesus Christ and Humanitarian Aid

The Church of Jesus Christ is involved in many humanitarian efforts around the world to help those in need. The objective is to not only render assistance where needed, but to ultimately teach those who require the assistance how to become self-reliant. It is further hoped that once people learn how to help themselves, they will have a desire to pay it forward to help others in need, and teach them how to help themselves as well.

Such humanitarian organizations as LDS Charities, established by the Church in 1996, provide wheelchairs, clean water, emergency response, food production, vision care, neonatal resuscitation training, and immunizations to people in 179 countries of the world. Donations from Church members, as well as, others through partnerships with organizations around the world, provide the necessary funding for the projects. Largely run by volunteer labor, assistance is “rendered without regard to race, religious affiliation, or nationality and is based on the core principles of personal responsibility, community support, self-reliance, and sustainability.”

The Church of Jesus Christ also maintains the Latter-day Saint Humanitarian Center which was established in 1991 in Salt Lake City, Utah to “prepare humanitarian supplies for use worldwide and train those desiring to develop employable skills to become self-reliant.”

The Liahona Children’s Foundation – Nurturing the Potential of the Children

King Benjamin in the Book of Mormon in his timely discourse asked the pointed question,

For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind? (Mosiah 4:19).

He continues in verse 21 by saying,

And now, if God, who has created you, on whom you are dependent for your lives and for all that ye have and are, doth grant unto you whatsoever ye ask that is right, in faith, believing that ye shall receive, O then, how ye ought to impart of the substance that ye have one to another.

King Benjamin also taught the people that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17). And so Latter-day Saints throughout the world do so willingly, knowing that their labors are not in vain and that as they serve their fellowman, they are in the service of God. Individual Latter-day Saints are an active part of the Liahona Children’s Foundation whose mission is “to nurture the potential of children to lead healthy and productive lives by eliminating malnutrition and providing educational opportunities among LDS children and their friends.” The Foundation began its operation in eight stakes in Ecuador and Guatemala in 2008. This summer the Foundation will be screening children in new areas of the world to include the Philippines (multiple areas), Cali Colombia, Paraguay, Nicaragua, Honduras, and Guatemala.

One of the major problems that the Liahona Children Foundation faces as it renders humanitarian service around the world is the large number of cases of malnutrition among the children. According to UNICEF,

Over one quarter of the children in resource-poor countries are malnourished, over 100 million under the age of five are under weight, and 165 million are stunted in height. Many malnourished children suffer lifelong cognitive and physical defects that significantly reduce their earning potential as adults, invariably leaving them in poverty and reducing their capacity to fully contribute to society. These effects in turn contribute to a cycle in which their poverty leads to their own children and grandchildren being malnourished.

Liahona Children's FoundationLargely due to the success of the Church’s missionary efforts to take the gospel to the remote parts of the earth, it is not surprising that a number of malnourished children are found among Latter-day Saint communities in many countries worldwide. This is an ongoing issue that the federally recognized 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization (which is independent from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) has striven to address for the past six years. Although the Foundation is not directly affiliated with The Church of Jesus Christ, it is administered by faithful Latter-day Saints and funded by contributions from Latter-day Saints in the United States and other parts of the world. Based on their experience over the past six years, it is estimated that at present, there are at least 120,000 malnourished LDS children in the world. The Church of Jesus Christ has over 15 million members worldwide.

According to the article in the Wednesday, 9 July 2014 of the online edition of Meridian Magazine by Robert A. Rees, Ph.D.:

The inspiration for establishing the Liahona Children’s Foundation came when Dr. Bradley Walker, the Foundation’s co-founder and current president, saw the emaciated body of a young Latter-day Saint child in Ecuador. The child, who was under the care of an LDS physician (and former stake president) in the ICU unit of a pediatric hospital in Guayaquil, had been fed platano (banana) water because his parents were too poor to afford milk. Dr. Walker made a commitment to do whatever he could to end malnutrition among Latter-day Saint children.

Liahona Children's Foundation ScreeningLiahona volunteers include students from BYU and Utah Valley University. Since its inception in 2008, the Liahona Children’s Foundation has conducted scores of screenings of LDS, as well as non-LDS children, and provided nutrition supplements for the malnourished in the countries of Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, South Africa, Cambodia and the Philippines. It is projected that the program will expand into other areas of the world such as Asia, Africa, Central and South America, the South Pacific, and Haiti where the levels of malnutrition are significantly high.

According to a recent report by UNICEF,

There is better understanding of the crucial importance of nutrition during the critical 1,000-day period covering pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life, and of the fact that stunting reflects deficiencies during this period. The damage that stunting causes to a child’s development is irreversible. Under nutrition early in life has major consequences for future educational, income and productivity outcomes.

The Meridian Magazine article further emphasized that without help “a malnourished child is less likely to succeed in school, graduate from high school or technical school, go on a mission, become employable, make a good marriage decision, and become a leader in the church or community.” And so, organizations like the Liahona Children’s Foundation are doing their part to combat the problem of malnourishment among LDS children throughout the world. All the while being reminded of the admonition of the Savior Himself when he taught, “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me” (Matthew 25:45).

Shield of Faith – Why Mormon Youth Are Happy and Successful

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

Research and studies show that teens who are active in their religions – in particular, Mormon teens – are less prone to get in trouble, because they live their lives according to gospel principles, which help them to avoid the snares of worldly temptations. As a result, they are also more likely to live healthier, happier lives.

Mormon Teens are Living Testimonies of Their Faith

LDS TeenIn the Oxford book Soul Searching, and its follow-up volume Souls in Transition, sociologist Christian Smith, based on his research about the religious behavior and attitudes of American teenagers, revealed that “although American youth profess belief at a high level (in God, the afterlife, and the Bible), their level of religious practice does not typically match what they say they believe.” Using that research as a foundation, Princeton Theological Seminary professor Kenda Creasy Dean, one of the researchers in the National Study of Youth and Religion, drew some interesting conclusions. In the book Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church, Dean shares the following observations:

If teenagers don’t have a firm grasp of core Christian doctrines and instead worship at what she calls “the Church of Benign Whatever-ism” — or don’t worship at all — it’s because youth pastors and other leaders have watered down the message, she claims. Teenagers in Protestant churches get the idea that they’re supposed to feel good about themselves, but that little is expected of them; Christianity is designed to make them “nice,” but it’s not supposed to form them as disciples. . . .The problem [is] that Protestant teens are being taught a brand of Christianity that is a mile wide and an inch deep.

In the chapter in the book titled “Mormon Envy,” Dean, who admits that she has deep theological disagreements with Mormonism, cites the religious group as one that is doing right by its teenagers. She states,

From a sociological perspective, Mormonism is succeeding in creating young adults who firmly understand what they believe and why their faith needs to have a claim on their behavior. She says that Mormonism is giving teens the four things they need in order to have a growing adult faith: 1) they are sufficiently catechized in beliefs by their own parents and by a spiritual community that expresses consistent expectations, 2) they acquire a personal testimony, 3) they have concrete religious goals and a sense of vocation, and 4) they have hope for the future.

In short, Mormon teens are taught from the early days of their youth that their faith is not just a Sunday religion, but rather they are to be living testimonies to the world as they strive to walk in the footsteps of the Great Exemplar, the Lord Jesus Christ. They are reminded of the Apostle Paul’s counsel to his young son in the gospel, Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). They are further admonished from the scriptures:

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Matthew 5:14-16).

Religious Teens: The Evidence of Their Faith

Christian TeensCorrie Ten Boom, the author of The Hiding Place is quoted as having said, “Faith is like a radar that sees through the fog.” In the vernacular of today’s teens, faith is that guiding light that helps them to navigate safely through the dense fog of obscurity caused by the temptations of the world. Their faith is evidenced as they learn to stand in holy places and not be moved (see Doctrine and Covenants 87:8). Daily prayer and scripture study help to fortify their faith as they are reminded to “be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

A recent study from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth, which represented over 14,000 American youth, revealed that religious youth with intact families are less likely to:

  • get into fights
  • use hard drugs
  • have ever committed a theft of $50 or more
  • have ever shoplifted
  • have ever run away
  • have ever been drunk
  • have been expelled or suspended from school
  • engage in physical intimacy

Additionally, the study indicated that religious teens also have higher GPAs in high school.

Another study indicated that teens who put the religious principles that they are taught into practice will:

  • achieve a higher level of marital happiness and stability
  • develop greater educational aspirations
  • contribute more generously to their community
  • live longer and healthier lives
  • display higher levels of self-control and self esteem

All of this is not meant to convey the idea that teens who govern their lives by religious principles will necessarily go through life on a bed of roses, but rather when the thorns from the rose bushes begin to prick them from time to time, they will be better equipped to cope with the pain. As someone has wisely stated, “Faith makes things possible, not easy.”

What Sets Latter-day Saint Teens Apart from Teens in Main Stream Protestantism?

In her book Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers Is Telling the American Church, Princeton Theological Seminary professor Kenda Creasy Dean asserts:

In Mormonism, there’s a great emphasis on personal testimony. More than half of LDS teens (53%) reported giving a talk or presentation in church in the last six months, compared to one in seven Southern Baptist youths and one in twenty-five Catholics. Mormon teens also exercise leadership, which Dean says is a crucial part of faith formation; 48% reported attending a church meeting where they were called upon to make a decision that would be binding on a group. These practices aren’t just window dressing, according to Dean; they pave the way for other crucial faith-forming events, such as missionary service.

In Mormonism, children prepare for missions and the temple; start fasting with the community every month at age eight; are expected to pay tithing just like adults; give up time on weekends to clean the church building and do service projects; and actually track these things in personal progress journals. They work toward Eagle Scout status or being a Young Woman of Excellence.

In Mormonism, Dean says, teens talk confidently about the purpose of this life (which they understand as being tested and growing spiritually so they might return to their Heavenly Parents after death). In Protestantism, she says, there has been an erosion of eschatological hope.

ILDS Seminaryt is interesting to note that the studies and research that have been conducted emphasize the fact that while many religious youth are devoted to their faith, they are uneducated in their doctrine, and therefore, they have no knowledge or understanding of what they believe. Latter-day Saints, on the other hand, are taught the principles and doctrines of their faith from an early age, and as they mature in their faith, their testimony of what they believe is strengthened, thus enabling them to confidently explain their doctrine. That Mormon youth have milestone ordinances and responsibilities to attain to leads them on along a marked path to gospel fluency and commitment.

Mormon youth teaching gospel principlesThe National Study of Youth and Religion points out “Mormon youth were off the charts in terms of their articulacy and understanding of their faith.” In his article “Why Mormons Do a Better Youth Ministry than We Do,” Greg Stier from christianpost.com explains, “Mormonism pushes their kids harder and takes them deeper and farther than even the most ardent of evangelical youth ministries would ever dare.” He continues, ““Mormons expect a lot out of their teenagers. We don’t. Mormons ordain their young men into the ministry at the age of twelve. We don’t. Mormons require their teens to attend seminary every day of high school. We don’t. Maybe that’s why Mormons give more, work harder and are exploding as a religion.”

What Can Parents Do to Help Their Youth Remain Strong and Grow in the Faith?

President Harold B. Lee taught, “”The most important . . . work you will ever do will be within the walls of your own homes.” Therefore, parents have an awesome responsibility to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. They are to “train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6). They can best do this by:

  • being a good example for their children to follow
  • holding regular family home evening, family prayer, and scripture study
  • teaching practical applications of gospel principles
  • providing settings for potential spiritual experiences
  • encouraging children to come to know for themselves

Youth today face many challenges and temptations from the effects of peer pressure to the influence of social media. In order to live happy, healthy, productive, and successful lives, they must remain true to their faith, and adhere to the religious principles that they have been taught as they journey through life.

Changing the Atmosphere of Mormon Missions Worldwide

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

On April 4, 2014, Tad Walsh wrote an article for the Deseret News explaining the new roles that sister missionaries are taking on. Real experiences are shared about how sisters in the Las Vegas, Nevada and in the Provo, Utah missions are implementing these new positions and responsibilities. These new roles include: taking part in the newly created monthly mission leadership council; training elders and sisters in district, zone, and mission meetings; taking on responsibility over the welfare of all of the sister missionaries; and reporting to the mission president or his wife on issues other sisters face.

Mormon Sister MissionariesI am a proud advocate of the new responsibilities that the sister missionaries have been given. From what I understand, there were roadblocks that hindered sisters from doing their jobs properly. For instance, from Walsh’s article, Elder Austin Fuller “recalls feeling frustration about the responsibility he had for sister missionaries when he had fewer tools to help them. Elders and sisters can’t go on exchanges, for example, and elders are not allowed to counsel sisters.” Now that has all changed. The sisters have become more effective as missionaries. This has caused a change for good in the efforts of missionary work.

I believe that the reason for the changes is that women are a strong force within the Church, and President Thomas S. Monson, thePresident and Prophet of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called the “Mormon” Church by the media and others), and his Apostles have felt and were given divine revelation to implement these changes for sisters and wives of mission presidents. Giving sisters more responsibility and more roles to use together with their fellow missionaries, whether they are elders or sisters, will make the process of spreading the gospel easier.

This article was written by Melissa Muse

Where Two or Three are gathered – The LDS Church in Hong Kong

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often called the “Mormon” Church by the media and others) realize the importance of meeting together to worship the Lord. They also realize that worship is not restricted to Sunday, although that is the usual day of worship in most parts of the world, but they are admonished to not forsake the “assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (Hebrews 10:25). The Savior Himself taught, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). And so, there are some places in the world where Church services may be conducted more frequently.

The Church of Jesus Christ in Hong Kong, China

Hong Kong China Mormon TempleIn Hong Kong, Church meetings are held every day of the week in order to accommodate the domestic helpers who only get one day a week off, and that day may vary from week to week.

Melissa Inouye of the University of Hong Kong stated that there is a missionary couple specifically called to conduct daily church meetings for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, for whoever comes. Inouye also made mention of the fact that the missionary couple’s Preparation Day (P-day) is actually on Sunday.

Bridging the Differences between Schedules and Cultures

Hong Kong China District Humanitarian AidOn 27 March 2014, in Berkeley, California, in her presentation at the Global Crossroads: Mormonism and Asia in the Twenty-First Century Conference, Staci Ford, also of the University of Hong Kong, discussed the “Gathering and Grafting in the Hong Kong International District” in greater detail.

In introducing the voice of a domestic helper by the name of Marissa Carino Estipona, Ford commented, “With over 1,000 domestic helpers, our district is the most gender imbalanced of its type in the church. We are a predominantly matriarchal society at church.” Estipona recalled being asked by a woman in Church if the long hours that she worked as a domestic helper away from her family in order to support and sustain them was worth it, and replying that everything was worth it for the sake of her family.

During her presentation Ford also quoted Benjamin Tai, the International Hong Kong District Leader, as saying,

In my view, the purpose of church boundaries is not to cause grief, heartache and headache for members of those in leadership callings. I am just very glad that anyone is willing to come and spend three-plus hours of his or her day off with us. My only desire is to make sure that for those that come, we are organized appropriately so that they can get the most out of their time and that spiritual growth is fostered.

 

Mormons Are Still Going to Church–Why?

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Religion is falling out of vogue. We’ve all heard it. Though people may identify with Christianity on a census form, in reality they are not  particularly interested in religion anymore. People don’t attend church with regularity. But, what about  Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)? They still attend Church services on a regular basis.

Why? And how does The Church of Jesus Christ manage to grow and stay strong in a world that continually diminishes the importance and role of religion? The answer is simple: Mormons keep the message of the gospel at the forefront of their lives.

Doctrine Never Changes

mormon-jesus-christ4The message of The Church of Jesus Christ is simple: Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer, and when we commit ourselves to Him, we find lasting peace, qualify for saving ordinances, and will eventually live with God and our families forever. The core doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ remain constant, and if there is a change in church operations or policy, it comes directly from general church leadership. (more…)

Do Mormons Celebrate Christmas?

Monday, December 6th, 2010
Mormon beliefs include the celebration of Christmas

Mormons celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus Christ.

Mormon beliefs sometimes get confused with the beliefs and practices of other religions. One such belief concerns the celebration of Christmas. Mormons tend to be very passionate Christmas celebrators, with many Mormon congregations hosting nativity festivals or free sing-alongs of Handel’s Messiah each year.

While Santa makes an appearance in some Mormon homes, the focus is always on the meaning of Christmas. Christmas is considered a sacred holiday and Mormon families are encouraged to simplify the secular portions of it in order to make more room for the spiritual elements of the Christmas celebration.

Jesus Christ and celebrate His birth as a pivotal moment in eternal life. The Book of Mormon, which Mormons consider a companion book to the Bible, says, “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (2 Nephi 25:26.) (more…)

Mormon Canneries Share Food With Local Food Banks

Monday, May 24th, 2010

mormon-canneryMany areas have canneries operated privately by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, whose members are often called Mormons. You won’t find their output on grocery store shelves, however, despite the extremely high quality of the food. The food canned in these canneries serve two purposes. The first is to allow church members to can large quantities of their own food for home storage. This allows them to be self-sufficient in the event of unemployment or illness, and to be able to buy only in season, on sale, and in bulk by having sufficient quantities tucked away. (more…)

ExMormon – Members who leave the Mormon Church

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

In the strictest sense, the word exmormon simply refers to someone who chose to end his membership in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Members of the Church are sometimes referred to informally as Mormons, and so an ex-mormon is a former Mormon. However, the term is more commonly used to refer not to people who simply left and moved on, but to those who then devote themselves to attacking the church.

Mormon TempleThere are many reasons a person might do this. While most people who leave a religion—any religion—simply join a new one or abandon organized religion and go about their new lives quietly, a few feel a need to attack and to demonstrate hatred for the life they left behind. Some who do this had a disagreement with another member or with a leader. Some objected to counsel given to them by a leader. These people find themselves unable or unwilling to forgive or to resolve the matter in an amicable and Christ-like manner and as a result, organize their new life around a pattern of revenge. Some are unhappy at the church’s unwillingness to let fads and fashion dictate truth, and are resentful that the Church has chosen not to make their favorite sins acceptable. Others feel uncertain about their decision and feel the only way to justify their choice is to “prove” the church is untrue. They feel if they can find or invent enough negatives and convince others to agree with them, it will help to justify their actions, even though the only people they need to convince are themselves and God. (more…)

Mormons Prepare Millions of Swedish Genealogy Records

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Mormon Family HistoryThe Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, informally known as Mormons, are transcribing and putting online a large number of Swedish records, constituting the largest indexing project they have undertaken. The final project will put 200 years of parish records online to assist genealogists in their research. This is a critical project because almost every Swedish person since 1608 has had a church record. When the record is complete, genealogists will be able to search some 400 million names at no cost. The original records will be available through a private firm, which may charge, but the transcribed records will be available through the Mormons free. The work will be done by Swedish-speaking volunteers, both Mormon and non-Mormon who care about genealogy. (more…)

Do Mormons Believe You Can Work Your Way to Heaven?

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

mormonThis question is often asked by evangelicals, and is, in general, a misunderstanding of the Mormon teachings on what happens after death and how we control that.

Many evangelicals teach that a person gets to heaven by being “saved.” This involves the act of accepting Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. At the same time, they teach that acts cannot get you into Heaven. The Mormons also believe that a person must accept Jesus Christ as His Savior in order to return to God’s presence after death. Both groups agree that at least one act is required of all of us in order to be with God.

The confusion over the number of acts required to be saved comes from the differences in terminology used by Mormons. Mormons believe everyone is saved through the atonement of Jesus Christ, even if they never accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. However, grace and eternal life, to a Mormon, are not the same thing. To understand this complex issue, let’s look at several essential points.
(more…)