Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Being misunderstood

April 16th is a day most central and eastern North Carolina residents won't soon forget, as it was the day a terrible tornado outbreak passed through a great portion of our state. Fortunately, our home and our family was spared, but in Wake County alone, there were thousands of homes and families affected, and several even lost their lives.

On Rolesville Road, about a mile or two from our home

Also on Rolesville Road. The size of the downed trees is amazing!

Anyone who knows anything about the Mormons knows that we are a serving people. When there is a need, especially a natural disaster, we are notorious for being early on the scene, ready to take part, and even lead, in the relief efforts. Not only that, I feel inclined to tell that it is never on the premise of it being only Mormons that we serve. Quite the contrary. Serving someone in need is serving someone in need. Period. (Read a little about it here, if you'd like.)

On Sunday, April 17th, less than 24 hours after the tornado outbreak in Wake County, the boys and men of our church, county wide, were given instruction of where to be and what to do. They would meet up at the "such-and-such" church on "such-and-such" road, immediately following church. The were to come dressed for the occasion, bringing any and all tools that would be helpful in the cleanup and disaster relief effort. My guess (totally not worth citing as fact!) is that there were easily 200 boys and men who reported then and there, that day alone; two of which were Elder Tolman and Elder Garrard, Mormon missionaries who serve in my local congregation.

Last night, these two fine fellas joined my family over dinner and the subject of that day came up. I asked them, "Tell me about the tornado relief you were able to take part it - How was it?" Much to my surprise they told me that the were turned away by the managing organization at "such and such" church. Mormons weren't allowed.

Now isn't that just something!? Samaritan's Purse, "a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world" (quoted from their website which I linked to) turns away those who are willing and able to help, on the premise of religious differences.

Quoting from their description on Wikipedia, "The organization’s president is Franklin Graham, son of Christian evangelist Billy Graham. The name of the organization is based on the New Testament Parable of the Good Samaritan, in which Jesus uses a parable to teach people the Great Commandment - how to "love thy neighbor as thyself".

Isn't it ironic that in the story of the Good Samaritan, found in Luke 10:29-37, Jesus teaches about the Samaritan who was helping someone who wasn't of the same faith as he, as the wounded man was a Jew?

Curious for a reason why, the missionaries were told that they had to sign the following faith contract in order to be affiliated with their outreach. The contract is found here. In case it doesn't jump out to you like it does me, bullet point one is the offense of those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because we not only revere the Holy Bible to be scripture, but also the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine & Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price, all found in our scripture tote bag or quad.

Said "statement of faith" reads: We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God. II Timothy 3:15-17.

So, I've been pondering on this conversation since last night, and basically am writing this down for my posterity. It never ceases to amaze me the amount of ridicule Mormons face in our day to day lives. It was so when my great-grandmother Bertha was the first one of her family to unite with the faith, with a backdrop of the Mormon church on Harkers Island being burned by angry mobs. It was so when my mother was chastised by her family choosing to marry my father, a Mormon. It was so when I was young and was misunderstood for not being able to join friends at the beach on Sunday, as we observe it as a day more for worship, and not recreation. And it is so today. It will be for a long time, for generations to come, I'm sure.

I was about to close with the sentence "Being misunderstood sucks," but I won't do that. That would be immature... And tacky. ;)


Jan Peers said...

Leah, you go girl!! What an awesome article, you should have sent it to your local newspaper. Isn't it so sad how we the Mormons are so misunderstood. I go through the same thing within my own family. I was in the hospital room with my dying brother when a Baptist Preacher bombarded me with his opinion about the Mormons.I just smiled at him and said, "Sir, I say to you as Christ said to his persecutors,'Father forgive him for he knows not what he professes'."
That totally stopped him in his tracks. He was especially nice to me when I had occasion to be in his presence during the death and funeral of my Dear Brother.

Lisa said...

This is so sad. It really is amazing how much anger and hatred is directed at a group whose primary goals are to become more like Christ and to be with their families forever.

When I was probably 7 or 8 years old, a little girl in the neighborhood, about my age, told me that I was going to hell because I was a Mormon. I asked her how she knew that and she said it was in the Bible. I asked her to show me where. She found a Bible and we continued our conversation on her front steps, but she never got around to showing me where it said that. It really didn't bother me at the time because I didn't believe her. But now I am amazed that a child that young could come up with something like that. How can anyone teach such horrible things to such young people?

I am also amazed at the irony of the name of that organization. Incredible.

Lisa and company said...

very well written! Some LDS friends of mine tried to get the day of service published on a Christian homeschool group's website and they turned her away and said they could not affiliate with anything that had to do with the LDS church because we were not Christians. It really surprises me that we are still so misunderstood.

Food Drive Lady said...

So I'm catching up on your blog tonight and ran across this entry. I, too, cannot believe that someone would turn away 200 willing and able men who want to help others in need. It blows my mind. Just as it blew my mind when I talked to the Food Bank in 2009 about the Food Drive. They said it was too late to get you guys in the game that year, but if we were willing to work with the LDS, they were sure you'd want to help. They told me that some groups they work with refuse, and I just can't imagine that. I mean, I just don't see why we all can't work together regardless of faith, color, etc.

Maybe one day this quote from John Lennon's "Imagine" will be true:

You may say that I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope someday you'll join us
And the world will live as one