A few weeks ago I was invited by Pastor Laetitia Schoeman to be the guest speaker on a gorgeous Sabbath morning at Fairview United Methodist Church in Stephens City, Virginia. As with any denomination across Christianity’s colorful spectrum, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints obviously do not share every belief with the Methodists. In fact, the idea that a member of our faith would be invited to speak to a Methodist church might have been unthinkable not long ago.
The doctrinal differences range from the Book of Mormon to our belief in modern-day prophets and apostles to the importance of temple work. As I scribbled ideas in my journal, I wondered what I could share with their faithful flock on a Sunday morning.
As it often does, the answer came in a whisper:
It was a moment to add, not divide. It was a morning to count up all we have in common, not enumerate the differences. It was a time for building bridges.
When the hour came to stand before their congregation at the same time my own ward was meeting a few towns away, the spirit filled their historic chapel. I spoke about the concept of Godly glasses and how important it is to see one another as he sees us. I read verses from Matthew and John and unfurled stories from my life when the Lord inspired others to see me when I needed it most.
I focused on all we share.
We believe in Christ and in his role as our Savior and Redeemer.
We believe in his example and in the perfect path he paved for us.
We believe he loves us endlessly.
After my remarks, I sat on a pew and soaked up the sweet spirit I felt in their humble, holy church. I admired the way they sang and prayed to God and for one another. I was moved by how easily they accepted me—a stranger in their spiritual home.
Before Pastor Schoeman concluded, she and Dawn Welch, the longtime member who initiated the invitation for me to visit their church, presented me with the most special thank you gift I’ve ever received at a speaking engagement. Hidden at the bottom of a gift bag and wrapped in white tissue paper I found a large leather wallet.
“Open it,” they said.
Inside, I discovered two dozen gift cards totaling $350 to restaurants and fast-food spots. It even held a few gas gift cards.
These two good and godly women explained before the congregation that as I travel, they want me to be ready to bless the life of someone in need—no questions asked. Whether hitchhikers, the homeless, or a family in crisis, they invited me to feed his sheep in any way I can.
What a miracle.
I’ve already given away several of the cards, and the recipients’ reactions are divine. They are touched that a small country church in Virginia somehow knew they would need a little boost at exactly that moment. I tell them this is Christianity. This is religion in action and faith in motion.
Because when we’re united, there’s no limit to the good we can do.
Indeed, let’s build more bridges.
This beautifully illustrated book helps remind those who are grieving that they are never alone in their pain and heartache.