President Baird’s Message
I love to read about missionaries in the scriptures. One of my favorite companionships is Alma and Amulek. We are first introduced to faithful Amulek in Alma chapter 8. But the stage is set for Alma and Amulek to become companions as early as Alma chapter 4. As chief judge, Alma observed great contentions in the land. He further observed that there began to be contentions among the members of the church. “There were envyings and strife and malice and persecutions and pride” among the members of the church in such great abundance that it became a stumbling block to those who did not believe. Alma determined to give up the judgment seat so that he could go among the people and “preach the word of God to them”.
Alma enjoyed success along the way but when he reached the city of Ammonihah the people rejected him and cast him out of the city. The scriptures record that this great prophet Alma was “weighed down with much sorrow, wading through much tribulation and anguish of soul…” I have felt that way sometimes; “weighed down with much sorrow”.
In the midst his disappointment God chose to send Alma back to Ammonihah. If I were the one being sent back to the place of my failure and discouragement, I am not so certain I would have gone willingly. Not so Alma, verse 18 records that, “after Alma had received his message from the angel…he returned speedily.” Because of his faithful and decisive action God prepared a wonderful companion to assist and serve with Alma.
Upon his return to the city Alma was hungry and begged food of a stranger as recorded in verse 19. What follows is an amazing lesson in what it means to be a good missionary companion. Amulek readily responds to Alma. The sequence is amazing—Amulek introduces himself—“I am a Nephite.” He turns his attention to Alma—“I know that thou art a holy prophet of God.” He acknowledges his assignment to be his companion—“thou art the man an angel said in a vision: Thou shalt receive.” Though junior companion Amulek was obviously the area senior—“Go with me into my house and I will impart unto thee of my food.” He sets the expectation that this will be a wonderful companionship and a blessing to himself and his whole family. He then “brought forth bread and meat and set before Alma.” Alma received gratefully that which was offered—“And it came to pass that Alma ate bread and was filled.” Alma 8:20, 21.
Some missionaries reflecting on this encounter think. Yes! That is the kind of companion I need! They might even say—“companion read this—it will help you to be a better companion.” I am not suggesting this is the kind of companion you should pray for. Rather, I suggest this the kind of a companion you should be. Whether a junior or a senior companion we should all strive to be more like Amulek and serve our companion with patience and love. Senior companions have a great responsibility to model this kind of companionship behavior to their junior companion. When I have been weighed down with sorrow, I have found that service to others is a sure antidote.
With the kind of greeting Amulek gave to Alma, it would simply be impossible for Alma to write home to his family—“I met my new companion—I think this is going to be a rough transfer. I hope God will give me a lot of patience. I’m really going to need it.” No! He would be writing home, “I just met Elder/Sister Amulek. I can already tell that he is going to be my favorite companion ever! I am so blessed to be able to work with a missionary like him/her.
So there it is. One of the great lessons we learn from Amulek is how to be a great companion. Ask yourself how you measure up. Ask what more you can do to make your companion’s life pleasant—filled with the fruits of the spirit--love, joy, peace. Pray to God and angels will guide you to be a better companion—to love and serve, to testify and to teach with power. Your experience can be much more like that of Alma and Amulek. But you must choose for yourself. If you choose to actively serve your companion like Amulek did, your mission experience will be a wonderful journey and it will be even more rewarding—I promise you! When burdens are lifted by a loving companion the weight on each is cut in half. When joy and success are shared, they are doubled. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.