Sitting with the 99

“They aren’t here again,” I said to Ben on Sunday. We were concerned that they would stop coming when their Grandma moved away. Four little black children aged 14 to 6, their parents work several jobs to provide for them, used to occupy the back row of the chapel, but their dark faces and bright t-shirts were not there. We first met them when the oldest boy started coming to scouts. Ben took him under his wing, and before long, we were bringing him and his siblings with us to church. When Grandma moved to town, we brought her along too. Sometimes there wasn’t enough room in our van there were so many who wanted to come. I became very attached to all of them, but in the two little ones I saw something very special. In their eyes I saw generations of future little black boys and girls yet unborn who might have better lives if they had a few of the benefits and opportunities that some of the other children in our ward family take for granted. I saw myself as a catalyst for those children, a cog in the works, an instrument in His hands, to bring some blessings to some of His precious little ones with their dark skin and their soft fluffy hair. Without those little ones, the ward family seemed strangely incomplete; like a Christmas tree without tinsel, or even a violin without strings. Perhaps the Master said it best when he told the story of the shepherd and his 100 sheep. He knew that one was missing and he left the 99 and went out to find the one that was lost. How many of our ward family are lost? How many do we search for? Are our hymns lacking some voices that we need to be complete? Are our congregations too stale with the same familiar faces? Some are offended by my words. They think I am too hard on our leaders who are volunteer and are doing all they can to fulfill their responsibilities. To them I would say, there is one thing that is needful, and I fear we are often choosing to neglect the better part. As those who call ourselves by His name, perhaps we don’t need to give more, just differently. I sit on the same side of the table as you. I too have a calling, I too am a volunteer, I have the same size of vehicle as anyone else, and I am just now getting to church on time. It has been two weeks in a row now. The depression is still hard. It would be so easy to say, “Let someone else help those children. I have done enough. It is time for me to sit comfortably with the 99.” The siren song of complacency is compelling, but charity never faileth. Those children know who loves them and the sheep will only go with their shepherd. Are we the Master’s shepherd? Are we His hands when action is needed, or are we comfortably sitting with the 99? My words are not intended as criticism, but as an invitation. We can do better. We must do better. The lambs of his fold cry out to him in the wilderness and he hears their cries. Do we? If we have the vanity to call ourselves by His name and have not charity, we are as sounding brass. At the last day, we will call out for mercy and he will close the door of the kingdom saying, “I never knew you. Depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” There is a better future in store for all of us. Let us develop that charity which never faileth. Let us fill our chapels with the tatooed and those that smell of cigarette smoke. Let us pack our pews with colorful t-shirts, and blue jeans. Let us load up our vans to bursting with the children of those whose parents are unable to come for whatever reason. Let us fill our hymns with the sounds of all kinds of voices as we reach out to the Master for healing. There is enough room for them! He is Mighty to Save! Then will He be there with us, His arms outstretched, “For I was hungry and ye gave me meat. I was thirsty and ye gave me drink, I was naked and ye clothed me. I was sick and ye visited me, I was in prison and ye came unto me…..Inherit the Kingdom prepared for you.”
Prints by Shawn

2 thoughts on “Sitting with the 99

  1. First of all I want to congratulate you for making it to church on time twice๐Ÿ’ฅ๐Ÿ’ฅ๐ŸŽ‰. I know how hard it is we tried it with your bunch๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜‰.
    You raise some important questions that I have struggled with as a missionary. How do you keep people going to church after you have left an area? How do you transfer affection from you a missionary to the Ward Family? After meditating 50 years on these problems I have decided that when I go on my next mission I am going to involve other ward members from the start. I am going to ask specific members to help me with fellowshipping new or reactivated members. If you cannot pick up your friends maybe you could ask your favorite ward members to help you. Asking specific people to be friendly to my contacts I feel would have blessed the contacts and the ward members and bound them together! I think it is great you are thinking of the lost sheep. Good luck in encouraging them to become part of the fold. I love ya. Dad๐Ÿ’–๐Ÿ’•

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Dad! I think you bring up a great point. The more shepherds there are, the better. We have involved other ward members with this family. Some have been able to make connections with them, but others not so much. I like the idea of your next mission….. ๐Ÿ˜‰


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