If you have ever felt absolutely overwhelmed at the level of suffering and difficulty in the world, you are not alone. The unrelenting news of disasters can make any of us feel powerless to influence issues that are complicated and often far away. But the gospel teaches we are agents to act and that as disciples of Jesus, we have access to the power of God. I spoke in general conference this weekend about how each of us can be a humanitarian, and I’ve shared below 16 things you can do. Each of these suggestions is simple, but I believe the little drops of good each of us contributes add up over time to truly change the world.
Fast and give a generous fast offering. There is untold power in a person of covenant fasting for something they want to bring to pass. The promise to those who fast is: “Then shalt thou call, and the Lord shall answer; thou shalt cry, and he shall say, Here I am” (Isaiah 58:9).
Volunteer regularly. Most agencies are happy for one-time service, but they crave regular, consistent volunteers they can count on to build relationships with clients. Read with children at school, drive seniors to appointments, translate for medical appointments, mentor a refugee family—the options are almost endless. JustServe.org is a good source to find opportunities.
Focus on the rising generation. Learn children’s names. Have a special friend or two in the Primary. Find out what they are passionate about, and help them with their dreams and desires. This is sustainable development at its most basic.
Talk to your municipal leaders. What are their local priorities? What help do they need? How can you contribute and involve others? Again, consider posting a project on JustServe.org and inviting others to help.
Ministering. Whether assigned or unassigned, ministering is the heart of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the litmus test for any humanitarian—do you minister? Help people with their problems. Let them feel your sincere interest and love.
Pray for the improvement of circumstances you hear about on the news. There are many people and places we cannot reach, but we can always pray and use our faith to call down blessings from the Lord. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous [person] availeth much” (James 5:16).
Reach out to other faiths and congregations, and build relationships. Do a service project in the community with people of another faith. Celebrate a holiday together. Help them with one of their congregational priorities.
Serve a mission or support a missionary. “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88).
Learn a skill, teach a skill. This simple action bonds us to each other in ways that can last decades. It’s the humanitarian superpower. Sports, trampoline tricks, chocolate mousse, scriptures, history, gardening, science, rock collecting, making jam, wood turning, home repairs, ministering, raising chickens, quilting, family history, dancing, cursive—anything at all will do. And don’t be afraid to learn something new yourself!
Think of emergency preparedness beyond food storage. What could your family or neighborhood do to be proactive? Learn the lessons of earlier disasters and how to be flexible and prepared.
Ask the bishop, Relief Society president, or elders quorum president who might need some special, unassigned attention and care. Offer your service: “Here am I; send me” (Isaiah 6:8).
Donate to the Church’s humanitarian fund. And follow Latter-day Saint Charities on social media to see how donations are used.
Reach out with friendship and understanding to someone who is not attending church right now. Find things in common even if you don’t agree on religious topics.
Make things accessible for everyone. Look for ways to make the ward, the neighborhood, and your community more accessible for everyone. Invite others to join you, and act together.
Learn more about nutrition. Being overweight, being underweight, and not getting enough vitamins and nutrients all bring their own challenges. How could family dinners, school lunch, food bank donations, and treats be made more nutritious and healthy? Share with your family, class, friends, quorum, or Relief Society.
Pray for God to send you to someone who needs you. Every day.
I invite you to join millions of other friends in the world who, like the Savior, go about quietly doing good. I promise you will feel more empathy, love, and hope, and you will have evidence that the world is still good. And best of all, you will be making peace by following the Prince of Peace.