We have an International Mission in the Church, over which Elder Carlos Asay presides. It cares for all the members of the Church who live outside the boundaries of regularly established stakes and missions. This includes the families who live in far-distant countries away from the centers of the Church. These families generally are on assignment with the government or with the military, or work for international corporations.
Typical of these is a family down in the Indian Ocean on the island of Réunion. There is a family of eight living in Benghazi, Libya. Another family of five lives in Karachi, Pakistan. For these and many other families there is no organized unit of the Church. They have to teach their own children.
Many of these families regularly conduct “church” services. Actually they are “home” services for their family. The mother may gather her small children about her and hold Primary. In this case she serves as the president of the Primary, the counselor, the teacher—and always the janitor. If the family has priesthood-age sons, all the regular priesthood offices somehow merge into one—the father—as he teaches them their duties and ministers to his family.
Actually, where the Church is fully organized, priesthood and auxiliary leaders are striving to have all parents teach their children anyway.
Often these distant families receive only a few basic materials from the Church. We now have available an excellent basic lesson manual for the men and boys and one for the mothers and daughters, a manual for small children, and a very fine basic manual, Gospel Principles. Generally these families receive the Church periodicals and have access to the family home evening manual, and, most important, the standard works of the Church. Activities are planned and centered around their families. In spite of limited materials, if the parents teach their children the gospel, these homes may be as blessed as any in the Church.
The things that are essential to these homes are essential in every home. In fact, living away from the organized Church might even be a blessing, because family members draw closer together and because they cannot delegate to the Church things that a father and mother should do wherever they live in the world.
The Lord organized the family unit in the beginning. He intended that the home be the center of learning—that the father and mother be teachers. He has given counsel that applies whether the family lives within or without the boundaries of an organized unit of the Church. I cite but a few of the scores of verses:
“And they shall also teach their children to pray, and to walk uprightly before the Lord” (D&C 68:28).
“The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth. … I have commanded you to bring up your children in light and truth” (D&C 93:36, 40).
“But ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another” (Mosiah 4:15).
“Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6).
The Lord fixed families to give parents more influence on children than all other agencies combined. There is safety in this arrangement. It provides parents the privilege, the awesome privilege, of molding the life and character of a child, even though outside agencies have influence.
Parenthood imposes a singular responsibility. Not only must parents put good things into the minds of children, we must keep bad things out. That is why we have been cautioned against the unrestricted invasion of our homes by the media. While some agencies that have influence on our children are good, some are not. Parental vigilance should be constant. Safeguard your children against those who seek to destroy them.
How would you pass the test, parents, if your family was isolated from the Church and you had to supply all religious training? Have you become so dependent on others that you do little or nothing at home? Tell me, how much of the gospel would your children know, if all they knew is what they had been taught at home? Ponder that. I repeat, how much of the gospel would your children know if all they knew is what they had been taught at home? Remember, the Church exists to help the home. Parents, the divine charge to teach has never been changed. Do not abdicate your duty.
We have been counseled to become self-reliant and independent temporally. It is as important spiritually! Suppose conditions changed. Suppose you could not receive all the services to which you have become accustomed. Suppose that much more responsibility were placed on your shoulders to care for the spiritual welfare of your family. Surely you cannot study the scriptures without knowing that perilous times are coming. Will you be unaffected?
Prepare now! Take steps now to strengthen your family. Spend time together. Establish and maintain family traditions that build happy memories. Maintain a discipline with fair rules and regulations. Express unconditional love to one another through word and act. Develop within each one self-esteem and self-respect by loving and believing in him and having him belong. Provide security that children need. These are the values of which life is made. Establish these, and then we won’t need to worry about the frills that too often concern us.
As prophetic events unfold, one thing is certain: we will need to be more self-reliant. We will all need to teach more within the walls of our own homes. In the Book of Mormon we find some models:
“I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father” (1 Ne. 1:1). No doubt Nephi was taught the things of the Spirit—his writings reveal that. He probably was taught practical matters as well, for he was a very resourceful man. Today that son is fortunate whose father teaches him somewhat in all his learning.
Enos, son of Jacob, was another who esteemed his father:
“I, Enos, knowing my father that he was a just man—for he taught me … in the nurture and admonition of the Lord—and blessed be the name of my God for it. …
“Behold, I went to hunt beasts in the forests; and the words which I had often heard my father speak concerning eternal life, and the joy of the saints, sunk deep into my heart.
“And my soul hungered; and I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul” (Enos 1:1, 3–4).
His life of service pivoted on this great spiritual experience. This experience occurred because of the words of his father. These are great models. They are good examples of the power of parental teaching. One thing is essential. Parents and children must spend time together.
Some few of us may receive public acclaim for our deeds. Most of us will live out our lives in comparative anonymity. This need not matter. Serve your fellowman. Love and teach your children. Then one day we will merit a tribute from them, which in the eternal plan will mean more than fame or wealth: “I … [was] born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught.” In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.