Have you ever wondered what some of the great figures in the Book of Mormon would advise us if they were standing in our shoes in 2012? As I was studying Alma 26, I was struck by Ammon, son of Mosiah’s, great speech. It is a gem. Here is one of the greatest missionaries of all time who went among his enemies, fearless, out of love and compassion for their fate. In 2012, with secularism, not to mention terrorism, surrounding us, our missionaries require the strength, love, and testimony of Ammon. And so, I would argue do the rest of us, living in such a world. Like Ammon we must learn to spread the love of God among the troubled of the earth in whatever way we can.
Let us study the great missionary Ammon for some clues to his success. He received his call from the Lord as set forth in Alma 17:11: “Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.”
Is there such a call issued to you in your patriarchal blessing? Have you been called to serve in such a calling by your bishop or stake president?
At a Deseret Book banquet two years ago, I, along with all the other authors, artists, and musicians who were in attendance received such a calling from President Henry B. Eyring. Speaking of the troubled of the earth in this increasingly dark time, President Eyring said that all humans are born into mortality with a “search engine,” powered by the Light of Christ. This engine is constantly seeking that Light throughout the world. He challenged us to make our books, art, and music reflective of that light, and prophesied that “hundreds of millions” of people would be drawn to it. Alma 17:11 (quoted above) came immediately into my mind, as I remembered the Lord’s counsel in those days (so remarkably like our own) that He would make of Ammon “an instrument . . . in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.” I consider this my “call.”
How did Ammon go about his mission? He served King Lamoni. And as he embarked on his first errand for the king, the Lord magnified Ammon’s strength to such a remarkable degree that the King actually wondered if Ammon, himself was the “Great Spirit.” Ammon showed his “light” unashamedly and King Lamoni, though a Lamanite, recognized that light with his “search engine,” even though Ammon was “the son of a liar” as the Lamanites referred to the Nephites in those days.
When we are engaged in magnifying our talents and abilities in our callings from the Lord on this earth, He will add upon our abilities, imparting to us health, strength, and added blessings, so that our works will be reflective of His light.
Once Ammon had the King’s full attention, the Lord magnified Ammon’s own powers by adding His, so that he bore such a strong testimony that not only the king, but all of his people were converted to the Lord!
I can bear testimony to the truthfulness of the Lord’s willingness to magnify our abilities in the performing of our missions. I have always loved to write, and have sought to serve the Lord through my writing. However, during a crisis in my long illness, my husband and doctors determined that they must intervene with an unusual procedure in order to save my life-electro-convulsive therapy. In this process, I went under general anesthetic and then strong electric shocks induced convulsions in my brain. It didn’t work very well, and so I ended up having six weeks of this treatment every other day.
The procedure causes memory loss, and so I cannot judge, but my husband says that if I had not undergone those ECTs I would not be alive today. Unfortunately, these shocks wiped out large pieces of my memory of the prior ten years as well as causing me to lose many of my skills. I no longer knew how to sew, how to photograph with my SLR camera, and worst of all, I had lost all my writing skills. This caused me tremendous grief.
However, when the time was right and the Lord took away my trial, another miracle also occurred. The writing part of my brain began to regenerate. Little by little, I got my skill back, and I became a virtual writing machine, publishing ten books in the last six years. Though loss of short term memory affects me in other areas of my life, when I am writing, there is no problem with memory or elasticity of thought.
Many of those books I published had begun years earlier and abandoned because I didn’t think my talent sufficient. Now I have finished them with a skill I didn’t possess before, and an added element-a testimony of the enabling power of the Atonement. We have to swim in deep waters before we can recognize our Rescuer! The Lord has opened doors in a miraculous way for me to provide hope to others with my words and testimony.
Reaping Godly Rewards
At the end of Ammon’s mission, he testifies with those wonderful verses that so moved me the other night: “And now behold, my brethren, what natural man is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you, there is none that knoweth these things, save it be the penitent. Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing-unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God: yea unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousand of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance. (Alma 26:21-22, emphasis added)
These words, along with those of President Eyring, bring joy to my heart and a spring to my step. It is possible to prosper in Godliness, even in the 21st century, if we follow the example of Ammon.
G.G. Vandagriff is the author of thirteen books and has written a twice monthly column for Meridian since its inception. She also free lances for the Deseret News. She loves to interact with her readers through her website . Her latest novel is a change from her more serious writing: The Duke’s Undoing. Find it on Amazon here or BN.com here.