There is a scripture that many of us have heard dozens of times, and many can probably recite word for word. It’s mentioned in both the Bible and the Book of Mormon. Originally written by Isaiah (49:22-23) and repeated by both Nephi and his brother Jacob (1 Nephi 21:22-23 and 2 Nephi 6:6-7):
“Thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I will lift up mine hand to the Gentiles, and set up my standard to the people: and they shall bring thy sons in their arms, and thy daughters shall be carried upon their shoulders. And kings shall be thy nursing fathers, and their queens thy nursing mothers: they shall bow down to thee with their face toward the earth, and lick up the dust of thy feet; and thou shalt know that I am the Lord: for they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.”
Jacob states the word of the Lord in 2 Nephi 10:8-11, explaining that the Gentiles will be used to carry Israel to the lands of their inheritance and be these nursing mothers and fathers. God says that this land, the Americas, will be the inheritance of Jacob’s people, and the Gentiles will have no kings here. So, who are the nursing mothers and fathers to Jacob’s people, or the seed of Joseph?
For a long weekend in mid-November, I had the opportunity to visit with Brother Greg and Sister Shellie Baer in Ponca City, Oklahoma. As the newest member of the Oklahoma committee, my goal was to go and help as much as I could and be the best sponge I could be, absorbing as much knowledge about the work as possible. While a couple of appointments were made, we left it up to the Lord to direct us where to go and what to do. And that’s just what He did. He made those two verses mentioned above come to life right before my eyes.
We started off by supporting a family that was participating in mini-powwows throughout the day. The tribe sent young people throughout the school district to hold assemblies and demonstrate the type of dances that would be seen at a powwow. Some of this family’s children needed transportation, and we provided that and attended the first couple of assemblies to show support. After the second one, another family member took over. Later that evening, we visited with one of Brother Greg’s contacts for dinner and had a very nice discussion about his history.
The next day, we had lunch with a man who is very God-fearing. It was wonderful to listen to the way he praised God. He makes drums for different events and asked us to come to his shop afterwards. He was working on a large buffalo hide, which I later found out was only half of one. He needed some help stretching it, so he asked if we could assist. The picture here shows Brother Greg and me pulling on the rope as Rock tied it. As we were working, my mind was taken back to this scripture. We were working side by side, providing the help he needed to accomplish his goal. It was such a blessing! When asked if I could use this picture, Rock said I could, “As long as it is for growing the kingdom.”
Later on, as we were preparing dinner, a young woman came unannounced to the door. She needed to talk about some very serious issues she was having, and she knew the Baers’ house was a safe place. Brother Greg invited her in, and we sat down in the living room for over an hour listening, providing counsel, and praying.
After dinner, a call was received from a young man related to the first family I mentioned. His mother had checked herself into rehab two days earlier. Now, he and his teenaged brother needed to move out of their current house, and U-Haul was closed. Besides, as he said, they didn’t have the money for one. As I sat there listening, I said that we could help and use my truck. So, on Saturday morning, the Baers and I, along with Brothers Ron Morle and John Mark D’Antonio (who were visiting as they were passing through the area on their trip) went over to the house and helped the young men move some of their larger belongings. Thankfully we had the two Brothers there, as it made things go a lot easier with the extra manpower.
The final meeting we had was with some of the family from the first day. They were some of the original contacts the Baers made when they first started visiting the Ponca people. We went to dinner, and the patriarch brought a few other family members including his 1.5-year-old. The baby was sitting next to me, and I naturally made a fuss over him. When we all got up to leave and say goodbye, the baby’s father not only shook my hand, but hugged me. After we got home, both Brother Greg and Sister Shellie pointed out how big that was. They don’t just hug anybody. That was a sign of respect and acceptance. I don’t say that to boast, but to show that God blesses our smallest actions and uses them to break down walls.
God’s Spirit was felt throughout the trip, and His word brought to pass in small, but significant ways. We were willing to be tools in His hands, and He put us to work.
It’s our hope and prayer that this continues. Some will continue to be the nursing mothers and fathers on the ground, every day, while others will be supporting with prayers, resources, and visits.
And that work will all be fulfilled one day when the Seed of Joseph is convinced and knows the true knowledge of their Redeemer.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.