LDS culture expands beyond Utah and across the world with over 16 million people. Often misunderstood or labeled as “peculiar,” LDS people or members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have stories that are much older than the pioneers that trekked across the United States due to persecution. This picture is my family after our sealing taken by father-in-law John Hedman.
Present-Day Love & Loyalty
LDS Charities is the official humanitarian part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Volunteers give about a million workdays worth of service a year while helping different people of all nationalities and faiths in 189 countries. These are the key programs and clicking on them shares a little more about each:
- Benson Food
- Clean Water
- Community Projects
- Emergency Response
- Maternal and Newborn Care
- Refugee Response
- Vision Care
Several short videos on these efforts can be found: https://www.ldscharities.org/videos
Past Love & Loyalty (Ancient tale)
Teresa Clark has told the 2,000 Stripling Warriors/Army of Helaman story at storytelling festivals. It is rare for LDS stories to make it to the stage beyond the Utah pioneer ones. This particular story is one of my favorites in the Book of Mormon, a book of scripture that causes LDS people to sometimes be called “Mormons.” Besides the Book of Mormon, LDS people believe in the Bible as witnessing Christ’s divine mission. You can find the story of the 2,000 Stripling Warriors (technically 2,060) mainly in Alma Chapter 56 here (Chapters 53-56 may be best for background): https://www.lds.org/scriptures/bofm/alma/56?lang=eng.
A few takes/retellings on the story are here:
- Text – https://www.lds.org/friend/1976/02/helaman-and-the-two-thousand?lang=eng
- Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8w5iBB7iVR8
- Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsrmXEkVHEc
Here is a summary:
During ancient times on the Americas, two groups of people that spanned the land were constantly at war: the Nephites and the Lamanites. The Nephites tended to be more peaceful though both fueled the contention. Some Lamanites were converted to the teachings upheld by the Nephites about the coming of Christ to earth. These Lamanites wanted to be renamed for whom had taught them, Ammon. Thus, they became known as the people of Ammon. These Ammonites made a sacred oath to never pick up weapons of war and buried them in the earth (thus leading to the phrase “burying the hatchet”), even to defend themselves. The Nephities worried that the Lamanites would attack these Ammonites and offered to protect with their armies and provided a large piece of land for the Ammonites to prosper. The Ammonites led peaceful lives. Eventually, the Lamanites built up such a strong army that it appeared the Nephites would not be able to maintain the peace of the land. The Ammonites wished to thank the kindness of the Nephites by taking up arms. The Nephites refused and said they must keep their oath. Then, 2,060 young men said that their parents and grandparents had made that oath though they did not. Their mothers had taught them that with enough faith, all would work out as the Lord saw fit. Helaman was impressed by these youth, inexperienced as to war yet willing to protect the Nephites and their own people. Helaman led them into battle and these youth were not supposed to get to the front lines but only to carry supplies to the Nephite armies. The Lamanties had other plans and Helaman had no choice but to have his 2,060 young men fight. When the fighting had ended and bodies were strewn about, he worried–as a father–on how many of his young men would have been killed. Not one of those men were killed, though several were wounded. These stripling warriors continued to serve the people with hope and love.
Interesting Notes on Kindness
- Ammonites buried their weapons of war and were true to their promise in loving all people, even people who wished them harm
- Nephites offered protection to the Ammonites with nothing expected in return
- Ammonties saw the sacrifices of the Nephites and were willing to break their sacred oath to offer help and kindness to the Nephites
- Nephites refused help from the Ammonites as a kindness to their people and continue the non-use of weapons
- Inexperienced young men offered to fight–not out of anger–but out of love and loyalty more for their mothers and their God
- Helaman was called “father” by the Stripling Warriors and Helaman did see these young men as his sons
- Stipling Warriors remained kind and hopeful despite needing to defend their people and other people through war
What stories of kindness do you know associated with Latter-day Saints? Anywhere in the world – past or present? Please share in the comments…or anything on your mind.
While you enjoy this blog, Story Crossroads has year-round offerings including the culminating Festival on May 23, 2018 (see schedule here: https://storycrossroads.com/2018-schedule/).
We thank our funders such as the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Division of Arts and Museums, the Western States Arts Federation, Utah Humanities, the City of Murray, the South Jordan Arts Council, Utah Valley University and many other individuals. Join us in the support by attending or donating or both! (Click here to donate or get tickets.)