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Simple faith

'Ordinary' members continue to move the Church along

The great work of moving the gospel forward depends upon ordinary members, just as it did in the past and will in the future.

So declared President Boyd K. Packer, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve, in his Sunday afternoon conference address.

"There is a message for Latter-day Saints in a seldom quoted revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1838: 'I remember my servant Oliver Granger; behold, verily I say unto him that his name shall be had in sacred remembrance from generation to generation, forever and ever, saith the Lord' (Doctrine and Covenants 117:12)."

A "very ordinary man," Oliver Granger was left behind in Kirtland, Ohio, to sell Church properties for what little he could. "There was not much chance that he could succeed. And, really, he did not succeed," President Packer said.

"But the Lord said, 'Let him contend earnestly for the redemption of the First Presidency of my Church, saith the Lord; and when he falls he shall rise again, for his sacrifice shall be more sacred unto me than his increase, saith the Lord' (Doctrine and Covenants 117:13).

"What did Oliver Granger do that his name should be held in sacred remembrance? Nothing much, really. It was not so much what he did as what he was."

President Packer noted that, when honoring Oliver Granger, most of the honor should go to his wife, Lydia Dibble Granger. The couple left Kirtland to join the Saints in Far West, Mo., but were turned back by a mob. Only later did they join the Saints at Nauvoo. Oliver died at age 47, leaving Lydia to look after the children.

"The Lord did not expect Oliver to be perfect; perhaps not even to succeed," President Packer continued. "We cannot expect to always succeed, but we should do the best we can."

He quoted from Doctrine and Covenants 124:49 and 53, in which the Lord promises that when He gives a commandment to "any of the sons of men" to do a work in His name, and they "go with all their might . . . and cease not their diligence, and their enemies come upon them and hinder them. . . ." He will accept of their offerings, and "will make an example of you, for your consolation . . . ."

President Packer said that the few in Kirtland are now millions of Latter-day Saints across the world. "They speak a multitude of languages but unite in faith and understanding through the language of the Spirit. These faithful members make and keep their covenants and strive to be worthy to enter the temple. They believe the prophecies and sustain the ward and branch leaders. Like Oliver, they sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. . . ."

President Packer then quoted from Doctrine and Covenants, Section 1, in which it is quoted that the "weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones" and that "every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world."

"Now another generation of youth comes forward," President Packer said. "We see a strength in them beyond what we have seen before. Drinking and drugs and moral mischief are not a part of their lives. They band together in study of the gospel, in socials and in service. They are not perfect. Not yet. They are doing the best they can, and they are stronger than the generations that came before."

Some worry over such things as missions that were missed, marriages that did not work out, babies that did not arrive or children that seem lost, he continued, speaking of dreams unfulfilled. " I do not think it pleases the Lord when we worry because we think we never do enough or that what we do is never good enough.

"Some needlessly carry a heavy burden of guilt which could be removed through confession and repentance. The Lord did not say of Oliver, '(If) he falls,' but 'When he falls he shall rise again.' "

Some years ago, President Packer related, he and others arrived early for a conference in the Philippines. Sitting on the curb was a family in their Sunday best eating cobs of cold, boiled corn. "The cost of the bus trip to Manila probably came out of their food budget," he said.

"As I watched that family, my heart overflowed with emotion. There is the Church. There is the power. There is the future. As with families in many lands, they pay their tithing, sustain their leaders and do their best to serve. For more than 40 years, my wife and I have traveled over the earth. We know members in perhaps a hundred countries. We have felt the power in their simple faith. Their individual testimonies and their sacrifice had a profound effect on us."

Recently, President Packer, along with Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Twelve and others of the Seventy, reorganized stakes in Okazaki, Sapporo and Osaka, Japan. "All three of the new stake presidents and an incredible number of the leaders had joined the Church as teenagers. Most of them had lost their fathers in the war." Elder Yoshihiko Kikuchi of the Seventy is one of that generation.

Again, referring to Oliver Granger, who was not "a great man in terms of the world," President Packer said, "Let no one underestimate the power of faith in the ordinary Latter-day Saints."