“Moved by Compassion,” Liahona, Oct. 2005, 44–45
Brother Thamas, a thin elderly man, sat by himself, often some distance from the other members who gathered to greet each other at the beginning of our Sunday meetings. His was a small figure, humble in appearance. He had been recently baptized and had no family. His Spanish, although understandable, was a mixture of Portuguese, French, German, English, and his native Hungarian. In brief conversations with those members who tried to fellowship him, he spoke of faraway Hungary.
One day the bishop asked him to speak for a few minutes in sacrament meeting. He was surprised but accepted. We too were surprised to hear his name announced. We prepared ourselves for a brief and simple testimony.
But once he stood at the pulpit, this brother’s appearance was transformed in a most remarkable manner, and he immediately captured our attention. His posture became erect, almost military, although he wore no uniform or medals. His manner was that of a soldier—old, but proud. Slowly but confidently he began his compelling story.
During World War II he had served in an infantry battalion in an area where constant combat covered the earth with blood, pain, and death. His squad was commanded by a sergeant who had earned the hatred of his men through extraordinary harshness. One terrible night a mortar shell exploded not far from the sergeant, critically wounding him. The commanding officer stopped a dilapidated truck that often passed by to pick up the wounded and dying and take them behind the lines to be cared for or buried.
The squad watched the fate of their dying leader from a distance. Not one went to help him. The officer asked for a volunteer to carry the man to the truck and accompany him behind the lines. No one volunteered.
Then, after something of a pause, Brother Thamas stepped forward. “Moved by compassion,” he told us, “I decided to carry the unfortunate fellow and go with him on his trip. I took care of him the best I could during his long and painful ride.
“I returned later in search of my squad. When I reached the front, I learned that fierce bombardment had wiped out a large number of men on the awful night of my departure. Not one man from my squad had survived apart from myself. And then I understood. I thanked God for having moved me to compassion. He saved my life and gave me a chance to hear the restored gospel.”
Our simple affection for a bent old man changed to appreciation, admiration, and gratitude for his having shared an example of the pure love of Christ.