There was a recent news release on one of the LDS church websites about humanitarian aid rendered by the Mormons in 2011.
Here is a brief excerpt from the article (emphasis added):
Lynn Samsel, director of Welfare Services Emergency Response, said every year throughout the world, families, communities and nations are afflicted with the hardship and tragedy of disasters—both natural as well as man-made. “While we know that God watches over His children, we are also aware that He asks His children to serve each other.”
When difficulty arises, people are often quick to ask “Why, God? Why?” In difficulty, it is easy to wonder “if there is a God, why does He let these things happen?” It is also easy to think that because God loves us, he will provide for those stricken by difficulty. Why doesn’t God take care of the afflicted and poor on his own?
Why do bad things happen?
First, is important to understand that bad things happen to good and bad people around the globe. We know from the Bible that God “maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.” No matter who you are, or how good you may be trying to live, bad things can happen. Living a good life does not guarantee temporal ease any more than living a bad life guarantees physical ruin.
Understanding why bad things happen to good people is no easy task, though it may be a quite common question. Rather than attempt to outline an answer, I recommend personal study and more importantly, prayer. I know that God will answer those who “seek and knock,” and I know that personal study and prayer are the two keys to facilitating those answers. Even more important than understanding “why” bad things happen is the need to understand “how” we should react when they do.
We must all help
When Christ was on the earth, he could literally do anything he wished. In once case, he fed a large group of people when almost no food was available, by breaking a few loaves of bread and a few fishes into enough food to feed the crowd with baskets full left over.
Contrast this ability with Christ’s instruction to help the poor. Christ, while on the earth, could have eliminated poverty. Indeed, he has the power to do that today. Yet instead of doing that, he commands us to care for the poor.
Knowing that he could have done this, and that he could certainly do it today, we need to focus on why he would rather leave that task to us. To me, there are at least two reasons: First, so that we can learn to care for others more than we care for ourselves; and second, so we through our service and sacrifice can more easily be forgiven of our shortcomings and sins. Said in another way, Christ commands us to help those in need so that we can learn and grow.
How can we help?
If a person understands the command to help others, the natural next question is “how can I help others in need?” Donating money is one way, but it is only half of the equation. Money, in reality, represents our time and our talents. What the Lord wants is for us to give our time, talents, and our love, respect and good will- our hearts. Christ taught “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” When we give of hearts in service to others, we are giving our hearts to God.
Can I donate to just the humanitarian part of the Mormon church?
The LDS church does not solicit donations, not even from its members. However, those who wish to donate to the church may do so, and they may choose to direct their donation for specific uses. If you visit any LDS church building you will find a donation form is available near the offices of that building (you can ask anyone where the bishop’s office is, the donation forms are usually on the wall outside his door.) Those who wish may also donate to specific causes through LDS Philanthropies online: LDS Philanthropies Website
But more important than donating money to any organization, we must all learn to reach out and help whenever and wherever we can. It might be as simple as bringing a meal over to a sick neighbor or friend, helping an out-of-work neighbor polish a resume, or volunteering at a local charity. When we give of our time and talents and heart in this way, we can come closer to God, forgetting our own problems and shortcomings, and sanctifying our souls.
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