Have you ever had to choose between people you love and something you believe is right? My friend (who asked to remain anonymous) faced that scenario after accepting the Gospel of Jesus Christ. She grew up in a Buddhist nation and expected repercussions for accepting new-found faith. But service rendered years ago to a woman in need bridged the gap for my friend.
Following are my friend’s words.
Service Includes Accepting Help From Others
What is service? President Thomas S. Monson taught: “Service to others is akin to duty, the fulfillment of which brings true joy. Service, to be acceptable to the Savior, must come from willing minds, ready hands, and pledged hearts.”
In my life, I sometimes focus so much on helping family members and friends that I often forget about accepting service from others. My thinking is that I do not want to inconvenience others, so to the best of my ability I often do things without asking for help.
Changing a Cultural Norm
I would like to share the experience that I had with my grandma how my life is blessed today because of her accepting the service of others.
I was born and raised in a strong Buddhist family where none of my family members were Christian. Many of my relatives, friends, and neighbors disliked Christianity and wanted nothing to do with our Savior.
In fact, a lot of my neighbors were living in abusive relationships. As a young girl, I often witnessed husbands physically and mentally abusing their wives. It seemed to worsen as I grew older and realized what was going on. I was terrified that if I got married, my husband would not be faithful to me and physically and mentally abuse me every day just as the women that lived around me experienced. I was completely lost as I tried to fit into my cultural norm that I did not want to accept. I did not want to have an abusive husband. I wanted love and respect and trust.
I always felt that there is something out there more than what I had experienced. However, I did not know where to find it until one day I found the missionaries.
I Want to Become a Christian
I was shocked to see how polite and respectful they were toward me and other people around them. When they were late for teaching appointments with me, they even said sorry. In Cambodia, men apologizing to women are completely unheard of. Even if they are wrong, they do not say sorry. When I took the lessons, the missionaries told me that I did a good job even if I answered their questions wrong. They forgave me when I made mistakes.
After I finished all the discussions, they asked me to get baptized and join the church. I really, really wanted to get baptized, but how? I knew that I would get into big trouble if my parents ever found out.
I wanted to tell someone in my family that I wanted to become a Christian, but who would I tell? My desire to join the church grew stronger and stronger and I could not keep it to myself any longer. I decided to tell my grandmother because she was the only person whom I knew that no matter what happened she would never abandon me.
I told her, “Grandma I have something to tell you and you have to promise me that no matter what, you will not hate me and stop talking to me.” My grandma replied, “Of course!” So, I continued, “Grandma, I want to become a Christian and I hope to get baptized soon. Would you still like me if I became a Christian?”
To my surprise, my dear grandmother looked at me and smiled. She asked me why did I want to be a Christian? I told her that I really loved everything that I learned in the Church very much. I found the truth that I had been looking for. The more I learned about the Church, the more I realized that this was the place for me. I belonged here and this was a missing piece of my life puzzle that I had been looking for. However, I was scared because everyone would hate me and no one in our family would want to be around me anymore.
Grandma listened very carefully and to my big surprise, she said, “Do you know that Christians actually are really good people? They practice what they preach. Many Buddhists do not know much about Christians and have the wrong idea about them.”
I looked at my grandma and asked, “How do you know?”
Serving Though Threatened with Execution
She shared with me an experience where she had encountered a group of Christians. She said that in 1975 when the war began in Cambodia that she was at home working at the rice field with her 5 children. My grandfather was on his business trip in Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. While she and her 5 children were working, a group of communist soldiers forced her and her children to leave home without clarifying where.
She asked if she could return home to get clothes and food for her kids but they laughed and said no. As the journey went on, she realized that she would never be able to return home and did not know if she would ever see her husband again. Her five children grew hungry and weak and got very sick.
Then she met a group of nice people who were trying so hard to help her out by giving her their clothes and food. Furthermore, they helped her build a shack for her and her children and gave them medicine. While this group of people helped my grandma out, the communist soldiers told them that if they continued to help my grandma that everyone in their group would be executed.
My grandma was really scared and told the group that she did not want them to get hurt because they were helping her and her children. But, the group continued to secretly help her out.
One day, she asked those people which village they came from and instead they replied that they were Christian. They visited Cambodia for their charity mission and were trying to leave Cambodia before everything completely shut down. The missionaries also told my grandma to not worry about them, that they would be ok.
The last time before the group of missionaries left they asked my grandma if she would be ok. Was there anything else that she needed help with?
Go and Become a Good Christian
Grandma said that from that moment on, the kindness of that Christian group would never leave her memory until the day she died. After she finished her story, she turned to me and said, “You know what, sweetheart? I know for sure that I will never become a Christian myself, but I will be very happy if you become a Christian. Go and become a good Christian. Do not worry about whether or not people will like you. They will understand later.” After the conversation with my dear grandma, I decided I would be baptized and join the Church.
I am so thankful that my grandma met that group of Christians and I am so thankful for the service that they had done for my grandmother because they showed her what it was like to be a Christian. Because my grandmother accepted service from a group of Christians, it has been a tremendous blessing for my family and me today.
The Foundation of Service is Love
Our Savior taught us that the foundation of service is love. The Savior taught us in John 13:35, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
President Dallin H. Oaks proclaimed, “Service with all of our heart and mind is a high challenge for all of us. It must be motivated only by the pure love of Christ.”
Love and Accept Love
I know that performing service is important as we strive to love others. And it is also important for us to open our hearts to accept the service of others because it is a way for us to show them that we accept their love and care for us.
When we serve we will receive blessing and we will be blessed because of the good work we have done. But we have to remember by accepting service from others, we actually allow them to serve and allow them to have the blessing of their service. Being served is not weak and it is not that we are not capable of doing things on our own, but it is a way to show that we are strong enough to humble our self and put down our ego to accept the love from others.
I am thankful for the amazing people I have met throughout my life and all the service they offered. I am very thankful that we have the true gospel today. I am forever grateful that we have the prophet to teach us what we should do to prepare us to go back to our Father in Heaven when our time comes.
(Previously posted on Patheos.com)
I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have moved 64 times and have not tired of experiencing this beautiful earth! I love the people, languages, histories/anthropologies, & especially religious cultures of the world. My life long passion is the study & searching out of religious symbolism, specifically related to ancient & modern temples. My husband Anthony and I love our bulldog Stig, adventures, traveling, movies, motorcycling, and time with friends and family.