Joseph Smith taught, “The nearer we get to our Heavenly Father, the more we are disposed to look with compassion on perishing souls…” The reason for this is that we begin to truly see these “perishing souls” as our brothers and sisters and consider it a privilege to serve them as the Savior would. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have the privilege of caring for the poor and needy among us. President Kimball has taught us that Welfare is not a program but is the essence of the Gospel in action. A calling in the Inner City Mission is a part-time service mission to care for the poor and needy in an assigned ward or branch. In this capacity, service missionaries:
- Assist with temporal welfare
- Help individuals and families develop self-reliance
- Encourage spiritual progression
Inner City service missionaries, usually called as couples, devote their time and energy to their assigned ward or branch. They assist in alleviating the welfare load of the bishop or branch president by helping individuals overcome personal challenges, improve their lives and get back on their feet financially so they can focus on their spiritual progression. Service missionaries may be asked to counsel families on budgeting, find better employment, provide instruction on basic life skills, arrange dental, medical or legal services, provide transportation, or other acts of service as required in meeting the temporal needs of those they serve. Examples of service in the Inner City:
- A service missionary couple was talking to the relief society president one Sunday. They asked if she knew of anyone in the ward they could visit or that needed help. She thought a moment and said, “Well there is a family that lives right across the street from me. Their home is in need of repair and they may be having some problems.” After discussing this with the bishop, they went to the home that very day. They knocked at the front door and two little boys, 6 and 11, opened the door and said, “Are you here to help us?” As the missionaries visited with the family they found great needs. The father had recently lost his job, the mother was too depressed to work or do much of anything. The most incredible discovery, however, was the two little boys had been on their knees praying to Heavenly Father to send someone who could help them.
The service missionaries went right to work. They got the full time missionaries involved and the 11 year old was baptized. With the help of the service missionaries the father was able to obtain employment and helped the family find a better and more economical place to live. The children are active in Church and the mom is on medication and is dealing much better with life.
The most important take away in this example is that Heavenly Father knows each of His children and hears and answers our prayers; and especially little children. Those two little boys prayed the missionaries to their front door and Heavenly Father has blessed them. Lives are changed because this service missionary couple responded to the inspiration of the Spirit.
- Within a matter of a few months a young sister with three children loses her husband to an asthma attack, loses her father to heart failure, is involved in a car accident, has a nervous breakdown, and suffers an accident in her home causing a compound fracture to her leg and ankle. Service missionaries were able to assist her with funeral services, employment responsibilities, medical services, and support for her children during this challenging time in her life.
- A quadriplegic brother with a wife and two children had no transportation to allow his wife to get to work or to transport him and his wheelchair. Service missionaries were able to arrange for the family to receive a handicapped accessible van that helped this family become self-reliant.
When we serve with love we become more like Christ. We develop the desire to give all that we have to the building of the Lord’s kingdom (D&C 42:31), we retain a remission of our sins (Mosiah 4:26), our confidence grows strong in the presence of God and the Holy Ghost becomes our constant companion (D&C 121:45–46), and we are filled with joy (D&C 11:12–13). We become more like our Father in Heaven and his Son, our Savior. (Providing in the Lord’s Way)
“At the final day, the Savior will not ask about the nature of our callings. He will not inquire about our material possessions or fame. He will ask if we ministered to the sick, gave food and drink to the hungry, visited those in prison, or gave succor to the weak. When we reach out to the least of Heavenly Father's children, we do it unto Him. That is the essence of the Gospel.” (Joseph B. Wirthlin, Ensign, Nov 2007)
We invite you to prayerfully seek the inspiration of the Spirit and then talk with your bishop about joining us in this work, which is truly the work of our Savior.