There were several things I learned or was reminded of with this and similar interviews:
- I learned that many less-active members have loved ones on their knees daily petitioning the Lord for help in rescuing their loved one.
- I learned that it is not all that easy or comfortable for a less-active member to just walk back into the Church. They need help. They need support. They need fellowship.
- I learned we have less-active members who are trying and willing to find the path back to activity.
- I learned that many less-active members will hold callings if asked.
- I learned that a less-active member deserves to be treated as an equal and be viewed as a son or daughter of a loving God.
Over the years I have wondered how this interview might have gone had I approached her as a less-active Church member. I leave you to be the judge.
Reactivation has always been an important part of the work of the Lord. While the rescue is a responsibility of every member, holders of the Aaronic and Melchizedek Priesthood have the responsibility to lead out in this work. After all, that is what priesthood service is all about--bringing all people to the exalting covenants; bringing peace, happiness, and self-worth.
From the Book of Mormon you will recall when Alma the Younger discovered that the Zoramites had fallen away from the Church, he organized a reactivation team to rescue these people. As they approached their assignment, Alma pleaded with the Lord with these words:
"O Lord, wilt thou grant unto us that we may have success in bringing them again unto thee in Christ.
"Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are our brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee" (Alma 31:34-35; emphasis added).
The charge to rescue is based on one of the most fundamental doctrines of the Church.
"Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;
"For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him. ...
"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!" (D&C 18:10-11, 15; emphasis added).
I have had the privilege of rescuing a few less-active members over my lifetime. Now when I help bring one back to Church activity, I don't visualize a single soul; I see six, seven, or more generations--thousands of souls. And then I think of the scripture: "Bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy" (D&C 18:15).
- Richard C. Edgley, “The Rescue for Real Growth“, April 2012 General Conference