Many wards or branches know at least one member who has drifted into inactivity. Bishops, branch presidents, and concerned members wonder what they might do to help bring these lost members back. Thank heavens for bishops who listen to the spirit and are inspired in our behalf! One such bishop found an unusual way to bring the lost member back.
Thirty years had passed since Ephraim, age 68, had been ordained an elder. Through life challenges, he had fallen into inactivity. He had long been unfriendly toward the Church, yet he maintained a solid friendship with his bishop, who visited him frequently. The two had an easy, comfortable relationship. Ephraim appreciated that the bishop respected his wishes and refrained from asking him to attend Church. The bishop stated, “Ephraim was on the other end of the spiritual spectrum. He was not interested in becoming involved with the Church.”
One Sunday morning the bishop sat in his office, pondering and praying about how to help his members. When his thoughts turned to Ephraim, he was hopeful there was a way the spirit might touch that man once again so that he might regain his testimony.
The next time he visited with Ephraim, he felt impressed to ask him to fulfill an assignment: “Brother Ephraim,” the bishop said, “I know you said you wouldn’t come to Church on Sundays, but could you come and help us clean the church during the week?”
Ephraim reluctantly accepted the call as a personal favor to his good friend, but he made it clear that he would not be attending Church. He began cleaning the chapel on Monday mornings. However, as time went on, he was cleaning the chapel not only on Mondays, but before any meeting or funeral that took place in the chapel. He found himself interacting with the elders quorum president, the high priest group leader, members of the bishopric, and other ward members. People got to know him and like him.
When everybody had left the building, he would often sit in the chapel and think about his life. He felt the spirit as he sat there. He later recalled, “The feeling in that chapel blew me away!”
In time, he approached his friend and asked, “Bishop, do you think it might be possible for my wife and me to be sealed in the temple?”
With a smile, the bishop said, “Yes.”
Ephraim said, “You knew this might happen, didn’t you?”
The bishop replied, “I hoped that it would!”
Ephraim and his wife prepared for the temple the following February. He told everybody who would listen, with tears in his eyes, “I wouldn’t be going to the temple if I had not been assigned to clean the church!”
Our leaders have long taught about the spiritual side of caring for our places of worship. Member Participation always includes the Lord; He blesses us when we do His work.
Excerpted from Matt Christensen from the Manti FM Group. If you have a personal experience with Member Participation or meetinghouse care, please share it. Send your story directly to the Meetinghouse Facilities Department, firstname.lastname@example.org.