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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Victor L. Brown, "Prepare Every Needful Thing" part 1

Victor L. Brown, “‘Prepare Every Needful Thing’,” Ensign, Nov 1980, 79 

My dear brothers and sisters, my message this morning is one of deep concern.
You will recall that ancient Israel was kept wandering in the wilderness for forty years before the people were prepared to cross over Jordan and enter the promised land. For over forty years we as a people have been taught the importance of personal and family preparedness. We have been taught that the first responsibility for our welfare rests upon our own shoulders and then upon our families. Only when these resources fail do we have call upon the Church. Yet, in recent months, it has been increasingly evident that there are many who are not prepared.
Within the last twelve months, the distribution of fast offerings and commodities by the bishops has been alarming. At the present rate of demand, the Church resources will be almost expended in a short time. As a matter of fact, some commodities have already been depleted, and this when the evidence is that the recession will be of a short duration. It would appear that in altogether too many cases the teachings about preparedness have been either misunderstood or knowingly rejected. Many of our members appear to feel that when difficulty comes, the Church will come to their aid, even when they could have prepared themselves had their priorities been appropriate.
Some time ago while visiting two stakes, I saw the evidence of the point I am trying to make. Both stakes were in predominantly Latter-day Saint communities. Both were affected seriously by the same severe but temporary disruption of employment. Generally, when I arrive in a new community for stake conference, I drive around the neighborhood or countryside to get a feel for the kind of people who live there. For example: Are their yards well taken care of? Are their homes well cared for? Are there old dilapidated barns and outbuildings, or are the properties neatly maintained and fenced? In other words, how much pride do the people have in themselves and their community?
In the first stake I refer to, I saw well-cared-for homes and yards. It seemed that this was a prosperous, so-called middle-class area. Some would have thought it an affluent area from the number of recreation vehicles in the driveways—boats, campers, and motor homes. As I met with the stake presidency, I commented on the apparent prosperity of the people. However, when reviewing the welfare needs of the people, I was shocked to see the demands made on the fast-offering funds and the bishops’ storehouse.
The stake president informed me that within a week or two of the closing down of the major employer, many families came to their bishops for assistance. They had very limited reserves from which to take care of themselves. He also mentioned there were some faithful members in his stake who from their reserves had taken care of their own needs as well as assisting some of their neighbors.
In the second stake, which was some distance from the first but which was impacted heavily by the same employment problem, I saw few recreation vehicles. As a matter of fact, I saw little evidence of affluence, although the properties were neat and tidy. Here I was surprised to see practically no fast offerings or bishop’s orders being used.
I asked the stake president if his bishops understood and were discharging their responsibilities for the poor and those in need. He indicated that, while some families had needed to seek assistance from their bishops, most of the members recognized their responsibility for their own welfare and were prepared to take care of themselves.
You see, the priorities of the members of these two stakes were very different. Many in the first stake were not prepared and expected the Church to take care of them, while in the second stake the situation was reversed—the majority of the people had prepared to meet their own needs.

(to be continued)

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