I love the parable of the lost sheep. We learn that The Shepherd loves us so much that He will leave the ninety-nine in the safety of the flock to find the one who wandered and became lost. Since our Savior cannot be with us physically at this time, it is our privilege to do the work He would do. Seeking out those who love Him, those who are lost to the truths of the gospel becomes our work.
Anyone can be lost, whether a member or not a member of His church. Those who are struggling or suffering yet still come to church can be wandering. Whether it is a friend or family member who has never been to church or a lifelong member who is aching, there are people everywhere. When we bring the sheep into His fold, we are bringing them into the love of Jesus Christ. Every rescue attempt may not result in baptism but when the love of the Savior is expressed and felt, we are walking them to the pasture. It is up to the sheep to walk through the gate, however.
The lost are found as we share the gospel with friends, as we support and encourage those within our circle of influence and especially as we search for our ancestors who never had the chance to learn about the Savior’s restored gospel for themselves.
Elder Robert K. Dellenbach recounted an experience he had with searching out the lost. “A few years ago, while on a Church assignment in St. Petersburg, Russia, my wife, Mary-Jayne, and I had the unique opportunity to feel the blessings of family history work. We visited the vital statistics archive to view the Church’s efforts to microfilm some of the records of western Russia. As I watched the archivist photographing pages of moldy old books from the city of Pskov, the names became real people. They seemed to leap right off the page and say: “You have found me. I am no longer lost. I know that someday, somewhere, someone in my family will take my name to the temple, and I will be baptized and endowed, and my wife and children will be sealed to me. Thank you!” 1
What a beautiful testimony to the work we are called to do. The Prophet Alma discovered a people who were ready to be found as he preached on the hill Onidah. Another group of people came, telling him that they had been cast out of their synagogues by the priests because of their poverty. “And now when Alma heard this, he turned him about, his face immediately towards him, and he beheld with great joy; for he beheld that their afflictions had truly humbled them, and that they were in a preparation to hear the word. Therefore he did say no more to the other multitude; but he stretched forth his hand, and cried unto those whom he beheld, who were truly penitent…” (Alma 32:6-7) The Lord knows who is truly prepared to receive the gospel.
If we are prayerful, asking the Lord to guide us to those who are ready, He will help us find His sheep either in the mundane or by miracles. We then need to be faithful and have the courage to open our mouths to extend the invitations as the Spirit whispers. The Lord needs only our willing hearts. He will do the rest as we seek to follow the command to find His lost sheep.
1. “Sacrifice Brings Forth the Blessings of Heaven”, Elder Robert K. Dellenbach, October 2002 General Conference