Humans of Mormonism: Stories and Sentiments of a Peculiar People
By David Metcalfe
June 10, 2018
Fast Way To Get A Bonus
In the late 1960’s, in a small town in South Africa, a husband and wife with three young children were struggling to make ends meet. The husband worked at a local factory; a job he detested. The wife stayed home to take care of the kids. Her shoulder had been injured long ago, and had been operated on, but it was getting worse with time. It got to the point where she could no longer lift her arm above her head, or hold any substantial weight. But without health insurance, they were out of luck, and simply had no way to pay the enormous cost of the surgery.
They looked over their budget, and had absolutely nowhere to sacrifice to make their expenditures less. All they bought were basic clothes, food, and rent in a small, old house. They prayed that God would somehow provide the money they needed for the surgery.
A little over a year and half later, the husband came home with a large amount of cash in an envelope. “It’s a miracle! My employer gave me a bonus, and it’s enough to pay for the surgery!”.
The surgery was a success, and she regained the use of her arm. When the kids went to school, she was able to find part-time work, and the family became financially stable. A few months later, she ran into one of her husband’s co-workers at a grocery store. In casual chatting, the man mentioned that her husband was a nice guy, but a little odd. “Why’s that?”, she asked. “Well, one day, a couple years ago, he just stopped eating lunch. He would always just sit there the whole break and chat with us while we ate.” She did the math. They had budgeted about 10 rands ($1 USD) per day for his lunch. Times that by 5 days a week for 18 months, and it was equal to the cost of the surgery.
Her husband never got a bonus.
A Year To Live
A lady in her late 50’s quit work rather suddenly. Instead, she began spending all of her time volunteering with various charities in the church. She made food in huge amounts and brought it to people who needed it: busy families, homeless people, young adults, and whoever else she could find. But more than just the food, she was always willing to develop relationships by chatting with people, listening to their struggles, and praying for them. Whenever she wasn’t helping the poor or assisting in church, she was with her grandchildren: taking them to the zoo, the park, the movie theatre, etc.
After several months of this, she started becoming very pale and weak. Eventually, she was reduced to a wheelchair, and slept most of the day. That’s when she let the community know that she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer 9 months ago. Many people wanted to pray for her to be healed, and she said that while she appreciated the sentiment, she had already prayed for that after her diagnosis, and she felt God’s answer very clearly: go and serve others.
They tried everything medically possible to cure her, but it was no use, and she died about a year after the diagnosis. Shortly before she died, she was asked by one of her children, who had left the church, how a good God could allow such a thing to happen to her. She explained that while she hated cancer, and wished she could be on earth a little longer, that her last year was the most she had ever lived, and she felt a great sense of peace in God’s goodness; that He was looking out for her, and was waiting for her in heaven.
Foster Kid To Fatherhood
Being raised in a single parent home, he never knew what it meant to have a complete family. He would see children playing with their fathers at the park, and be filled with despair and envy for the life he could never have. As he grew older, he had various relationships with women, but believed that a family was not for him. After all, having never seen what a good father was like, how could he ever become one? He resigned himself to a life of random sex and the odd temporary relationship here and there. But he longed for something more.
He came across some strange guys in white dress shirts handing out books. They chatted with him, and he knew they were in some weird religion, but he agreed to visit their church one Sunday. He couldn’t believe his eyes when he looked around the church; it was packed with families, all with present fathers.
During the last lesson of the church service, the man teaching had a sleeping baby in his arms the entire time. He didn’t remember the actual content of the lesson, but something about that image moved him. As he continued going to church, he saw more and more of this type of loving fatherhood being exemplified. As he studied the beliefs of the church, he realized that the family unit was the central concept of life, and served as a forum for people to be brought into the world and raised in a loving way by two committed, active parents.
He now has a wife and five children that he loves very much.
Sacrament Meeting Is Now Over
By reading that, you got a sense of what a Mormon church service is like. We don’t have some pastor who gets up and tells us about the theology of Romans 5 for 30 minutes, or read a bunch of liturgy that some guy wrote a thousand years ago. It’s simply 3 people who share stories about how God is working in their own life or the lives of those around them for 10 minutes each.
What you just read are three of my favorite stories I have heard since joining the church a few months ago.
I am continually amazed by the way that people’s lives are affected by God in the Mormon church. We can debate theological or historical concepts of Mormon teachings forever, but you can’t argue with the real results that the church is witnessing on a regular basis. The Mormon church is growing fast. Already at 16 million, there are about 300,000 new converts every year, as well as new babies being born, of course (Mormons often have large families).
There are all kinds of beliefs in Mormonism, but to state it succinctly, I might say there are three main concepts:
1) God loves all of mankind, and sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die for the sins of mankind so that we can be with Him in heaven.
2) Life has various challenges, and God has provided us commandments to help guide us through that. Ultimately, through the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives, we can become better people.
3) Love is the greatest virtue to live up to. We can show love to others through serving the poor, being a good friend, staying committed to our family, and showing kindness to all people no matter who they are.
Joining the Mormon church has been one of the best decisions I have ever made. Christians often feel the need to inform me that Mormons are “deceived by Satan”, that they “spit on the face of Jesus”, or that they do “creepy” things in the temple. Atheists often feel the need to inform me that God is no more than an imaginary friend, and that believing in religion is “intellectual suicide”.
All I want to share today is that we need to stop defining people by their religion. We need to move beyond that, and see them as people. We need to see the sincerity of the man who went without lunch for his wife’s surgery, the lady who found renewed hope in the midst of a cancer diagnosis, and the young man who discovered the value of family.
I don’t understand every bit of theology, but as long as I continue to see God working in my own life and in the lives of those around me, I will continue to believe in and live out the teachings of the Mormon church. As I do that, I believe I will have the opportunity to hear and see first hand many more powerful stories in addition to the many I have already been able to hear and see.
One thought on “Humans of Mormonism: Stories and Sentiments of a Peculiar People”
“All I want to share today is that we need to stop defining people by their religion. We need to move beyond that, and see them as people.”
I love this. And I wish more Mormons I know believe this as well. Some do, and it’s refreshing to come across them because we have something in common.
I left the LDS church about five years ago. I quickly learned those who based our friendship on belonging to the same religion meant the friendship didn’t last. I also didn’t handle things as well as I could have.
Glad to found your blog. I was expecting another tirade against those who leave. Your writing was a nice change of pace.