- Today, twice as many children in the United States are living with only one parent than were 50 years ago. And there are many families that are less unified in their love of God and willingness to keep His commandments. In this increasing spiritual commotion, the restored gospel will continue to carry the standard, the ideal, the pattern of the Lord.
- We will continue to teach the Lord’s pattern for families, but now with millions of members and the diversity we have in the children of the Church, we need to be even more thoughtful and sensitive. Our Church culture and vernacular are at times quite unique. The Primary children are not going to stop singing “Families Can Be Together Forever,” but when they sing, “I’m so glad when daddy comes home” or “with father and mother leading the way,” not all children will be singing about their own family.
Elder Andersen reminds us that our Earthly situations might not be what we want, we are spiritual children of a loving Heavenly Father. He knows us and loves us.
- While a child’s earthly situation may not be ideal, a child’s spiritual DNA is perfect because one’s true identity is as a son or daughter of God.
Many examples of people feeling left out or being nervous about being at church because of their family situations were given. Each demonstrates an opportunity for you and I to be more welcoming, inviting, and loving towards those that come from different backgrounds. Many of these people don't have a foundation of righteousness at home and we should be aware of that and encourage them to live the gospel no matter what they circumstances are today. Elder Andersen concludes with a personal story that demonstrates how inviting we all should be to those on the outside.
- When my wife, Kathy, and I were in Africa a few weeks ago, we visited Mbuji-Mayi, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Because the chapel was not large enough for the 2,000 members, we met out of doors under large plastic coverings supported by bamboo poles. As the meeting began, we could see dozens of children watching us, clinging to the bars on the outside of the wrought-iron fence that surrounded the property. Kathy quietly whispered, “Neil, do you think that you might want to invite the children to come in?” I approached District President Kalonji at the podium and asked him if he would welcome the children outside the fence to come join us inside. To my surprise, with President Kalonji’s invitation, the children not only came but came running—more than 50, perhaps 100—some with tattered clothes and bare feet but all with beautiful smiles and excited faces. I was deeply moved by this experience and saw it as symbolic of our need to reach out to the youth who feel alone, left behind, or outside the fence. Let us think about them, welcome them, embrace them, and do everything we can to strengthen their love for the Savior.
I need to be better at reaching out to those in less than ideal homes. I have the opportunity to attend girls camp this year and we have several girls that come from homes that they are alone in the gospel and some that are not able to be baptized at this time. I am going to make it a point to reach out to them personally to help them feel more invited and to help strengthen their testimony. I believe that is what the Savior our do and what he wants me to do.