What of the
Excerpt from Damon L. Bahrfs devotional was given on 15 November 2011 entitled The Unique Opportunities of Living at This Time in This Dispensation. Brother Bahr was a BYU associate professor of teacher education at this time.
I joined the Church at the end of my junior year in high school.
For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance, or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains, and they be stirred up to anger, and perish. [2 Nephi 28:19]
Elder Neal A. Maxwell called this shaking of the devilfs kingdom gredemptive turbulence.h
What is our role as redemptive turbulence literally shakes people out of the kingdoms of the world? We must stand with our arms open, ready to catch them, accepting the Lordfs invitation to gcome ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers [or catchers] of menh (Mark 1:17; see also Luke 5:10). We must be ready to answer as Jesus answered when those shaken by redemptive turbulence wish to know if there is a better way to live—gCome and seeh (John 1:39).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie encouraged us to gstand as lights and guides to the peopleh around us (gThe Coming Tests and Trials and Glory,h Ensign, May 1980, 72). And may we remember that gwe must be different in order to make a differenceh in a darkening world (Neal A. Maxwell, Deposition of a Disciple [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976], 55).
Thus, as insignificant as we feel our lights can be, they become brighter simply by contrast as the darkening occurs. Nowhere is that contrast more apparent than in our unwavering commitment to the family.
If you will set your light on a hill, President Spencer W. Kimball has promised, gI feel the Lord has placed, in a very natural way within our circles of friends and acquaintances, many persons who are ready to enter into his Churchh (gFirst Presidency Message: Are We Doing All We Can?h Ensign, February 1983, 4).
President Thomas S. Monson said two weeks ago:
Our opportunities to shine are limitless. They surround us each day, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. As we follow the example of the Savior, ours will be the opportunity to be a light, as it were, in the lives of those around us—whether they be our own family members, our coworkers, mere acquaintances or total strangers. [gBe a Light to the World,h BYU devotional address, 1 November 2011]
Recently, a good friend in the McKay School of Education told me of his conversion. It began when he was an undergraduate in Rhode Island. When he asked a non-LDS faculty mentor where he might consider applying to graduate school, the mentor suggested, with no apparent explanation, that he attend a university somewhere in Utah. He applied to and was accepted at Utah State in Logan. Over time he noticed that he naturally gravitated toward certain USU faculty and later observed that every one of those faculty were Latter-day Saints. Their influence is why he is now a member, sealed in an eternal family unit.
In Sioux City, Iowa, I worked as a janitor before my mission. One evening a coworker who was more than twice my age approached me and said, gYou are different.h My kids would say thatfs no revelation, but I donft think thatfs what he meant. He said, gWhen I am around you I feel something.h My young friends, when I am around you, I feel something too.
Being ready to catch those shaken out of the world by redemptive turbulence means being ready to do the catching in some unusual places.
A few years ago we would regularly receive on our home phone a number of sales or solicitation calls. I remember answering three of those calls in one day. At the conclusion of the third call I placed the phone on the receiver rather energetically and remarked to my wife that if salespeople were going to interrupt me on a regular basis, I was going to teach them the gospel.
A few days later I answered a sales call and thought, gOkay, here we go.h After politely declining the sales offer, I said, gI would like to ask you a question. Do you believe in Jesus Christ?h
The saleswoman replied, gWhy, yes, I do.h
I then asked, gHave you ever heard of the visit of Jesus Christ to America after His death and resurrection in Jerusalem?h
gWell, 600 years before His birth, God directed a small group of people to leave Jerusalem and travel to the Western Hemisphere. These people were taught by prophets whose words were written on gold plates. Their words have been translated in our time in what we now know as the Book of Mormon, and this record describes the visit of Christ to them.h
She said, gThat is the most wonderful thing I have ever heard.h
A few days later I got another call. Ifm on a roll!
After the initial sales pitch, I replied, gI donft really want what you are trying to sell me, but I would like to ask you a question. Do you believe in Jesus Christ?h
The salesman replied, gNo, Ifm a Muslim, and besides, I am not supposed to talk about personal things, so I better hang up.h
I said, gBefore you do, let me say one thing. Do you have a family?h
gDo you care about them?h
gYes, of course.h
gBefore you hang up, I want you to know that I may be the only person you will ever talk to who can tell you how you can have your family after you die.h
He replied, gWhatfs that?h
I said, gI thought you said you had to hang up.h
gOh, no, I want to hear about this.h
Sometimes you get a little surprise in these kinds of situations. A saleslady gave me her spiel, and then I asked her if she believed in Christ and knew of His visit to America. She replied, gYes, I read the Book of Mormon every day with my family. Ifm an LDS mom in Las Vegas.h
Sometimes you can wonder if your offers to be a catcher are ever hitting home. Upon graduation Kim and I packed up our belongings and our new little baby—who is now thirty-two years old—and headed for St. George, Utah, where I began my teaching career. We lived next door to Trish and her husband, Al. Trish wasnft a member of the Church, and Al was a member but didnft attend very often. We tried to do all the things a good neighbor does—plates of cookies, Christmas greetings, all that sort of thing—but we never received much reciprocation.
One day, out of the blue, I suggested to Kim that we purchase a gift subscription to the Ensign for Trish and Al. She is used to crazy suggestions from me, so she agreed.
A few months later, while riding my bike home from work, I noticed Trish was standing outside our home looking right at me with a sort of intense look.
I thought, gThis is unusual.h
I stopped to greet her, and she asked, hAre you the one who sent us the Ensign?h
I thought, gUh oh, Ifm in trouble now,h and I meekly replied, gUh . . . yeah.h Howfs that for being bold?
She said, gI want to thank you for sending it to us, and I have one question for you. Would you mind coming to my home and teaching me about your church?h
I baptized Trish three weeks later.
Sometimes you start catching and then think folks donft want you to catch them anymore. I was ordained a Seventy in St. George when dirt was new and Enoch was the president of the Church. In those days the office of a Seventy was a local office in the priesthood. Another Seventy and I were stake missionaries, and we helped our neighbor Matt and his wife come into the Church and to full Church activity. Then we were allowed to go to another stake and teach Mattfs parents, Ward and Louise. It was clear that Louise was quite interested, and it was also abundantly clear that Ward only listened—if you could call it listening—to be courteous to Louise. After several months, despite Louisefs progress, we had to stop teaching them.
A couple of years later, a colleague who was the ward mission leader in the ward Louise and Ward lived in came to my room and told me Louise wanted me to call her. Because I began my teaching career when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I didnft have a cell phone available to use, because they werenft invented yet. I had to wait until recess to call her on the office telephone. When I reached her, we exchanged greetings, and then she said, gI have decided to be baptized. I woke up this morning with this feeling that I wanted to be baptized.h
I was elated. Then I asked, gLouise, how does Ward feel about this?h
She said, gI donft know. He hasnft said much.h
I called her back that evening to follow up on the arrangements for her baptism, and, to my surprise, she told me Ward had decided to be baptized too. They were baptized a few days later and then were sealed in the holy temple a year after that. A few months later I received word that Louise had passed away.
Sometimes you are just doing your thing, and the next thing you know you are in the catching business. Three years ago I was in San Diego attending a mathematics education conference. I rode a shuttle to the San Diego airport and noticed the driver might be a person who spoke Spanish. I deliberately sat in the front seat and used my limited Spanish vocabulary to say, gCómo está?h
He replied, gBien, gracias. Y usted?h
I said, gBien.h
He asked in Spanish, gDónde aprendió a hablar espaol?h
I replied, gIn inglés, por favor?h
gWhere did you learn to speak Spanish?h he said.
I responded, gI am a Latter-day Saint, or Mormon, and I am in charge of ten of our congregations in Utah. One of them includes people who speak Spanish, so I have tried to learn a little. And besides, we have many Spanish-speaking people moving into our area, so I have learned a little Spanish so I can help them feel welcome.h
He replied positively, and then I asked a question I had never asked before: gDo you know where your ancestors came from?h
gOver the Bering Sea, I guess.h
I said, gWell, thatfs partially true, but the truth is, most of your ancestors came from Jerusalem.h
Then I told him the story of Lehi and the Book of Mormon and said, gYour ancestors prayed to God that their book would be preserved so that their children—and that would be you—could have it and use it to be as close to God as they were. Prophets of God wrote that book, and they are your ancestors. You are a descendant of prophets.h
He said, gI did not know I was a descendant of prophets. How can I get hold of this book?h
You can guess the rest of the story.
In my next story I want you to notice how obviously the Lord was involved—and I testify that He is that involved in every catching story.
About a month ago my wife went to Iowa to visit our son and his family and our daughter-in-law. While she was gone, I did what every red-blooded American temporary bachelor does—I stopped on the way home from work to get some dinner to avoid starvation. I stopped at the Bajio in Riverwoods down in Provo and was waited on by a young man who was obviously of Latin-American descent. I greeted him in Spanish. He complimented me on my accent and asked me where I had learned Spanish.
I thought, gHere we go again,h and I told him about my Church calling.
Before I could continue, he said, gIfm a Mormon, but I am inactive. But today I went to Temple Square.h
I must have looked interested—because I was—so he continued: gThe other night I had a strange dream in which I heard some words I did not really fully comprehend. I came to work the next day and told my coworker, who is LDS, about it, and he said the words I heard in my dream were the words you hear when you view the Christus statue in the Temple Square Visitorsf Center. He told me to go up there, so I did, and sure enough I heard those words. I think the Lord was trying to tell me something. I am going to get active. I know who my bishop is, and I am going to ask him to help me repent of the bad decisions I have made.h
Brothers and sisters, I am a member of the Church today and a possessor of an eternal family because of a person who held his arms out to catch me—my brother.