BYU (Brigham Young University) is operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often mistakenly called the “Mormon Church.” BYU students take nearly a semester of spiritually uplifting, stimulating religion classes.
In this series (see below), students enrolled in scripture study classes have shared their thoughts, insights, and reflections on the Book of Mormon in the form of letters to someone they know. We invite you to take a look at their epiphanies and discoveries as they delve into the scriptures.
In publishing these, we fulfill their desire to speak to all of us of the relevance, power and beauty of the Book of Mormon, a second witness of Jesus Christ and complement to the Bible. The Book of Mormon includes the religious history of a group of Israelites who settled in ancient America. (The names they use are those of prophets who taught the Book of Mormon peoples to look forward to the coming of Christ—Nephi, Lehi, Alma, Helaman, and other unfamiliar names. We hope those names will become more familiar to you as you read their inspiring words and feel the relevance and divinity of their messages through these letters.)
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Book of Mormon: Preparing for War
Letter to my brother in Ukraine
In my Book of Mormon class this week, we have been studying the war chapters, and we learned a lot of things that I thought applied directly to missionary work. I especially liked what my professor pointed out in chapter 49 of Alma, a prophet who lived in ancient America. If you remember a little about the war chapters, the Nephites win their battle with Zarahemna because of their faith in God and also because of the revolutionary armor that Captain Moroni had fashioned for them. So in this chapter, the Lamanites copy the Nephites and come to war with armor. They think that, unlike before, now they’ll be on equal ground and, far outnumbering the Nephites, they’ll be able to destroy them.
Captain Moroni, however, has been preparing his people with even more defenses. Alma 48:8 says: “Yea, he had been strengthening the armies of the Nephites, and erecting small forts, or places of resort; throwing up banks of earth round about to enclose his armies, and also building walls of stone to encircle them about, round about their cities and the borders of their lands; yea, all round about the land.” So when the Lamanites come to fight in chapter 49, this is their reaction: “And it came to pass that the Lamanites, or the Amalickiahites, were exceedingly astonished at their manner of preparation for war” (Alma 49:9).
So what can we learn from this that I thought was so highly applicable to missionary work? Well, a couple of things. First, in their times of peace, the Nephites weren’t sitting around hoping the Lamanites wouldn’t come back. They knew that to be protected, they had to work and continue to devise new ways to fight against the sheer numbers of the Lamanites. I once read an article written by a professor from Harvard who estimated that roughly 150 billion people have lived on the earth so far. Without accounting for any future people who will be born, that means that 75 billion souls followed Satan when he was cast out. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints currently has somewhere around 14 million members worldwide. So that means we’re outnumbered about 5,357 to 1. I’d say we’re kind of in the same situation as the Nephites, only the odds are even more against us. Knowing this, it’s crazy how we often just sit around and wait for temptations to come our way without even preparing for them. We know they’re going to come, and yet, too often, we don’t follow Captain Moroni’s example of staying one step ahead of the adversary.
The second thing we can learn from this story is that, like the Nephites, we need to cleanse the inner vessel first. In their battle with Zerahemnah, the Nephites were equipped with personal armor, or in other words, they were personally converted to the Gospel. Then, when Captain Moroni saw that they were all prepared individually, he branched out and started working on the cities. This is the part that I think can be really beneficial to missionaries. Too many missionaries go out and try to convert people when they themselves aren’t converted. Too many don’t obey the Lord’s admonition in Doctrine and Covenants 42:14 (another volume of modern revelation): “If ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.” Now I understand that personal conversion is a process and that it’s difficult to know when you’ve become truly converted, but if you focus on becoming spiritually reborn yourself, you’ll be much more effective as a missionary. You’ll be much more in tune with the Spirit, which will make you more able to help not only your investigators, but also the members in the branch, your companion and every single person you meet on the street. I’m sure if you apply this, you’ll see miracles on your mission and in your area.
Love you bro,