- Through his servants the prophets, our kind Heavenly Father directs us in general terms areas we need to focus on as a church .. he calls these areas stewardships.
- We should be anxiously engaged in our stewardships (assignments) and magnify our callings. Be 'Doers'.
- To know specifically what we should be working on from day to day, we then must seek and follow the spirit (personal revelation).
In our Article of Faith number 5 it states: “We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.” Not only do our leaders work under inspired direction, since we also receive our own assignments and callings (stewardships) by inspiration via our local leaders, we are entitled to divine guidance and direction in our areas of stewardship.
In James 1 verse 5 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” and later in the same chapter in verse 22 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”. The Lord has given us the scriptures, the writings of the prophets both past and present to guide us as a church generally and the gift of the Holy Ghost to direct us in our own assignments specifically day to day and hour to hour. We must be doers ..
Practice: In the Magrath Stake High Council, one of my assigned areas is in regard to Emergency Preparedness within our stake. In this assignment, I am responsible to assist you individually, and your ward via encouragement and training for your unit leaders, and to the Stake President in his responsibility to teach and prepare stake members this area – in emergency response, food production and storage, employment and self-reliance.
Within the stake, we have called Emergency Preparation/Communication Specialists in each ward to assist in our efforts in this area. Each month, we perform a communications exercise to ensure that we will be able to get direction from the stake to each ward, should the need arise. Your ward specialist maintains current lists of resources and contact information for your Bishop, should the need arise. However, his responsibility is in training and teaching. Our own individual responsibility is in wise emergency preparation and implementation within our own homes and families.
What have the prophets asked us to do? In a talk entitled 'Prepare Ye' at the October 1973 General Conference, President Ezra Taft Benson taught:
“My text today is from a revelation of the Lord to Joseph Smith, the Prophet, at a conference of the Church January 2, 1831, as follows: “… if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” (D&C 38:30.)
In section 1 of the great Doctrine and Covenants, a volume of modern scripture, we read these words: “Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come. …” (D&C 1:12.) Further in this same revelation are these warning words: “… I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth . …” (D&C 1:17.)
What are some of the calamities for which we are to prepare? In section 29 the Lord warns us of “a great hailstorm sent forth to destroy the crops of the earth.” (D&C 29:16.) In section 45 we read of “an overflowing scourge; for a desolating sickness shall cover the land.” (D&C 45:31.) In section 63 the Lord declares he has “decreed wars upon the face of the earth. …” (D&C 63:33.)
In Matthew, chapter 24, we learn of “famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes. …” (Matt. 24:7.) The Lord declared that these and other calamities shall occur. These particular prophecies seem not to be conditional. The Lord, with his foreknowledge, knows that they will happen. Some will come about through man’s manipulations; others through the forces of nature and nature’s God, but that they will come seems certain. Prophecy is but history in reverse—a divine disclosure of future events.
What could happen here in our safe little town? My list of some possible events includes: fire, flood, rain, hail, wind, treefall, snow, cold, earthquake, drought, disease, famine, infestation, road closure, chemical spill, power/gas/water outages, strikes, shortages (food/gas/supplies), accident, social unrest, loss of employment, robbery, looting, vandalism, war, loss of life .. OK not all are as likely as others. But we have been somewhat protected and blessed in the past.
Yet, through all of this, the Lord Jesus Christ has said: “… if ye are prepared ye shall not fear.” (D&C 38:30.)
What, then, is the Lord’s way to help us prepare for these calamities? The answer is also found in section 1 of the Doctrine and Covenants, wherein he says:
“Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;
“And also gave commandments to others. …” (D&C 1:17–18.) He has also said: “Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the prophecies and promises which are in them shall all be fulfilled.” (D&C 1:37.)
Here then is the key--look to the prophets for the words of God, that will show us how to prepare for the calamities which are to come. For the Lord, in that same section, states: “What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself; and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away, but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants, it is the same.” (D&C 1:38.)
Again, the Lord warned those who will reject the inspired words of his representatives, in these words: “… and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people.” (D&C 1:14.)
The present-day Church welfare program was instituted by revelation from God to his mouthpiece, the prophet and earthly president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was inaugurated by the First Presidency at a general conference of the Church held in October, 1936, [now over 75] years ago.
At the April 1937 general conference of the Church, President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., of the First Presidency, asked: “What may we as a people and as individuals do for ourselves to prepare to meet this oncoming disaster, which God in his wisdom may not turn aside from us?” President Clark then set forth these inspired basic principles of the Church welfare program:
“First, and above and beyond everything else, let us live righteously. …
“Let us avoid debt as we would avoid a plague; where we are now in debt, let us get out of debt; if not today, then tomorrow.
“Let us straitly and strictly live within our incomes, and save a little.
“Let every head of every household see to it that he has on hand enough food and clothing, and, where possible, fuel also, for at least a year ahead*. You of small means put your money in foodstuffs and wearing apparel, not in stocks and bonds; you of large means will think you know how to care for yourselves, but I may venture to suggest that you do not speculate. Let every head of every household aim to own his own home, free from mortgage. Let every man who has a garden spot, garden it; every man who owns a farm, farm it.” (Conference Report, April 1937, p. 26.)
* the church now asks us to start with 3 month supply and then extend that if permitted by local law ..
For the righteous the gospel provides a warning before a calamity, a program for the crises, a refuge for each disaster.
As to the foodstuffs which should be stored, the Church has left that decision primarily to the individual members.
'A food supply is just a kind of savings account that we can eat.' We are counselled in areas of food/clothing storage/production, education, honourable employment, and building an emergency cash reserve [However, he notes; “… when we really get into hard times, where food is scarce or there is none at all, and so with clothing and shelter, money may be no good for there may be nothing to buy, and you cannot eat money, you cannot get enough of it together to burn to keep warm, and you cannot wear it.” (Church News, November 21, 1953, p. 4.)]
On Individual Emergencies: More likely, our own emergency will be of a more personal nature, affecting just our-self or our family. In the case of family sickness or accident, damage to our home, or job loss or career change or similar event, I believe this is where our emergency food supply will be able to be used to bless us in our time of need. However, occasionally something happens on a larger scale.
What can the Wards do? Teach the people to prepare and follow the spirit. Ward Specialists assist leaders in training and emergency plans in ward as needed. Bishop is responsible for Welfare within his ward.
The strength of the Church welfare program lies in every family following the inspired direction of the Church leaders to be self-sustaining through adequate preparation. God intends for his Saints to so prepare themselves “that the church [as the Lord has said] may stand independent above all other creatures beneath the celestial world.” (D&C 78:14.)
What is the Stake do to prepare? Consider the scope of the emergency. Does it affect one person, one family, one ward, one town, one province, one country or the entire world? At what point is a response appropriate from the stake/ward? Although individual Bishops are responsible for welfare within their own wards with support from the stake, if more than a single ward is impacted, a response from the Stake, or Area, or even from Headquarters may be needed.
On Personal Revelation: Although the Lord can and will guide us as needed within our stewardships, I do not believe that we need to wait for specific dispensations in order to start. He has already told us many of the things that we need to get done first (see above) via scripture and prophetic counsel over many years. Let us get started on that first. We should be wise stewards, anxiously engaged in all these good areas, not running faster than we are able and not needing angelic visitations to tell us each step that we are to take. He will guide us in His own time and way if additional specific directions are needed. Seeking to feel self-sufficient while pausing at every step for further guidance seems somewhat contradictory to me. In reality, we are completely reliant on Him for all that we have – this world, our very lives, air to breath and the warmth of the sun. Despite that truth, He has placed us here with God given agency to learn to be more like him. We need to be Doers .. and not Waiters for Further Directioners.
President Benson also wrote:
“For years we have been counseled to have on hand a year's supply of food. Yet there are some today  who would not start storing until the Church comes out with a detailed monthly home storage program. Now suppose that never happens. We still cannot say we have not been told. Should the Lord decide at this time to cleanse the Church - and the need for that cleansing seems to be increasing - a famine in this land of one year's duration could wipe out a large percentage of slothful members, including some ward and stake officers. Yet we cannot say we have not been warned. … We do not need a prophet, we have one, what we desperately need is a listening ear.” (Chapter titled “Not Commanded in All Things” in his book An Enemy Hath Done This, p. 271-72)
Once we have successfully completed our preparations, then what? Will not the Lord expect us to wisely use what he has blessed us with to benefit others in our sphere of influence? Our families of course, friends and neighbours, home teaching families, others? Line upon Line ..
The principles are sound. We know hard times are coming, for nations as well as for families and individuals. The Lord has warned us to be wise and to prepare for these hard times. If we are prepared, we “shall not fear” and this preparation will be a blessing to ourselves, to our families and to others around us. The spirit will guide you in making wise decisions specific to your own unique circumstances.
May the Lord bless us in our efforts. Amen
For more information refer to:
website links www.providentliving.org and www.lds.org/topics/emergency-preparedness
and to the church pamphlet All is Safely Gathered In: Family Home Storage
and see instructions in Handbook 1, 5.1.3 and 5.1.1 and Handbook 2, 6.3.2 and 18.3.7, and
Talk by Pres Ezra Taft Benson 'Prepare Ye' 1973 October General Conference
Talk by Pres J Reuben Clark Jr Friday Afternoon Meeting April 1937 General Conference