As we have been invited by our prophet, President Thomas S. Monson, to reach out and rescue, an account in the New Testament comes to my mind. In my opinion, it is a perfect illustration of how members and missionaries could work together in unity through ward councils to reach out and rescue. The story is found in Mark 2:1-5.
Jesus was in Capernaum and his fame at that time caused people to gather themselves in a large crowd to see him. There were so many people gathered in the room that it was extremely crowded. Jesus took the opportunity to teach those people.
I always find the accounts Jesus used to teach us certain doctrines or principles are always most ideal. One of the characters in this account was a paralytic, someone who was not able to move without assistance. He had to wait at home for help, wherever that might be. His home could well be in an isolated corner of a back street. Being borne of four, he came to the place where Jesus was.
Here is what I envision to be the scenario: these four people arranged a home visit to this man who was sick of palsy. They were fulfilling an assignment given by the bishop. I could almost visualize one of them coming from Relief Society, one from the Elder’s Quorum, one from the Aaronic Priesthood and, last but not least, a fulltime missionary … as in the last ward council, after counseling together the needs of certain individuals, the bishop gave out “Rescue” assignments. These four were assigned to help this man who was a paralytic. They could not wait for him to come to church by himself. They had to make a home visit. They had to seek him out by going out to find him and they did. The man was being brought to Jesus. --- Mark 2:3: “And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy, which was borne of four.”
However, the room was too crowded. They could not get in through the door. I am sure they had tried very hard but just could not get through. Things did not happen as smoothly as planned. There were obstacles along their way of “Rescue”. However, they did not give up. They did not leave the man with palsy by the door. They counseled together on what to do next; how they could bring the man unto Jesus Christ for healing. The work to assist Jesus Christ in saving souls, at least for them, was never too demanding. They came up with a plan, not an easy one, but they acted on it. --- Mark 2:4: “And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press, they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.”
They brought him up to the roof. Assuming no outside staircase was there for them to climb, it would have taken them quite some time to get all onto the roof. I think this might have happened: the young man from his ward climbed up the roof first. Being young and full of energy, it should not have been too difficult for him. His senior home teaching companion from the elder’s quorum and the tall full-time missionary from the United States would have pushed really hard from down below. The Relief Society sister would have reminded them to be careful and given them words of encouragement. The men would then uncover the roof while the sister continued to comfort the man as he waited to be healed -- to be able to move by himself and to be free.
This rescue assignment needs everyone working together. At the crucial moment, it would take careful coordination to lower the palsy from the roof. It would take careful coordination that the four would have to work in unity and in perfect harmony. There could not be any discord among the four. They have to lower the man at the same pace. If someone releases the rope faster than the other three, the man would fall out of his bed. He just could not hold on by himself due to his disability. In order to assist Christ, we have to work together in unity and in perfect harmony. Every one, every position and every calling is important. We have to be united under our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Finally, the sick palsy man was laid before Jesus. --- Mark 2:5: “When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” Jesus showed mercy on him and healed him. Not only physically, but also spiritually--- “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.” Isn’t that wonderful? Wouldn’t we like that to happen to us all too? Certainly I would.
Do we know anyone in our life that could have a spiritual palsy, someone who just could not come back to the Church by himself or herself? He or she could be one of our children, one of our parents, a spouse, a relative or a friend.
With so many more fulltime missionaries now available in each church unit, it will be wise for bishops and branch presidents to make better use of their ward and branch councils. The bishop can invite each member of the ward council to come with a list of names who may need assistance. Members in the ward council will counsel together carefully on how they might best help. Bishops listen attentively to the ideas and make assignments at the end. Fulltime missionaries are great resources to the wards in these rescue efforts. They are young and full of energy. They love to have a list of specific names to work with. They enjoy working together with ward members. They know these are great opportunities for them in ‘finding’. They are devoted in establishing the Lord’s kingdom. They have a strong testimony that they will become more Christlike as they participate in these rescuing efforts.
In conclusion, may I share with you one more hidden treasure found in these scriptures. It is in verse 5 “When Jesus saw THEIR faith.” I did not notice this in the past--- THEIR faith. Our combined faith will also affect the wellbeing of others. Who were those people that Jesus was mentioning? It could well include the four who carried the man with palsy, the man himself, the people who had prayed for him, and all those who were there listening to the preaching of Jesus and cheering quietly in their hearts for the soon-to-come miracle. It could also include a spouse, a parent, a son or a daughter, a missionary, a quorum president, a relief society president, a bishop, and a faraway friend. We all can help one another. We should always be anxiously engaged in seeking out to rescue those in need.
I testify that Jesus Christ is a God of miracles. He loves us all and has the power to save and heal, both physically and spiritually. When we assist Him in his mission of saving souls, we too will be rescued in the process. I so testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. ■