20 July 2014

Brother's Keeper

While running around central New York state yesterday (note - where we camped IN A TENT in the rain) we had an opportunity to see several sites that are key to the history of our church. It was a great experience to see these places that I'd read about but had not yet had a chance to see. While at one of the sites, I got to talking to a young man who shared that he had served a mission several years before in Ulan Bator, Mongolia. As he shared a couple of his experiences, I recalled a story about Mongolia that I'd been told many years before that left a lasting impression on me.

In the spring of 1992, I boarded a flight from Tokyo bound for Manila. Prior to boarding, I'd seen a senior leader (General Authority) in our Church, and we had a chance to chat. He was also a good friend of my parents so it was nice to connect. Just before the door to the aircraft closed, an agent ascended the stairs to my seat in the upper deck and said that I'd been upgraded to First and that I should sit in the lone open seat. I descended the stairs of the 747 and found that the seat was right next to our family friend.

Soon after take-off, we began chatting about the Church in Asia and that's when he told me the following story. The Church was not yet officially recognized in Mongolia but a senior missionary couple serving in the Hong Kong mission had been asked to go into Ulan Bator and to begin teaching English classes and looking for opportunities to serve. The husband and wife, upon arrival in Ulan Bator, knowing not a soul, made their way to a government office to seek housing. Apparently this was the custom at the time. They were referred to a senior official who was completely befuddled by their request. 'Why would, you, an elderly couple, come to this country, to serve?' was his oft-repeated question. Finally, the older man said to the official, "Why? Because I am your brother." The official was quiet and sent them on their way with no indication whether they would get housing or not. A few days later, the couple received a phone call at their hotel. It was the government official. He told them, "You have housing. You will live in my home. It is yours. I will live with my mother in her home." Dumbfounded, the man asked the official, "But, why? Why do you do this?" the official said, "Because you are my brother."

Five simple words. Because you are my brother. Wouldn't this world be a different place if we kept those words at the forefront of our minds? Wouldn't our actions toward others be different as we some them as brothers rather than enemies? Wouldn't we take a breath first and think before reacting? One would think so, right. I'm as guilty as the next person for forgetting those words and the power of their teaching. But when I think about them and when I put those around me in the context of brotherhood, I do think differently.

Because you are my brother. Remember it and let's try and treat one another a little bit better.

1 comment:

Julia said...

Thanks Mike. Good for us to remember