“Brother John’s Fast Offering,” Liahona, Sept. 2007, 44–45
I couldn’t believe my eyes. There he was, standing at the pulpit. I had never seen Brother John at church before, let alone heard him bear his testimony. A month later he came to church and bore his testimony again.
It all started one Sunday morning in priesthood executive committee meeting. I was serving as Young Men president. We had just read from the Church Handbook of Instructions, and the bishop was sitting quietly, pondering. Then he looked up and said, “I want our Aaronic Priesthood brethren to begin collecting fast offerings from less-active members.” He asked us to involve the teachers and priests.
I was surprised. In Cape Town, South Africa, most members live far from each other. It takes about 35 minutes to drive from one side of our ward to the other. The young men had never collected fast offerings before because they couldn’t walk to members’ homes—the distance was too great, and we were concerned about their safety.
As a committee we came up with a plan as we discussed how we might overcome these obstacles. The elders quorum agreed to assign brethren to take the young men to several homes on the Saturday before each fast Sunday. We split the ward into areas and assigned each companionship to visit a few active families and a few less-active families. We realized that our plan would be a good opportunity for the brethren to get to know the youth and for the youth to receive counsel from the elders.
When we presented the plan to the young men, they were eager to try it. We reminded them to wear Sunday clothes and that this was part of their sacred responsibility to watch over the ward.
I was assigned to take my younger brother, Andrew. The following Saturday we visited everyone on our list, but most people weren’t home. The last member we visited was Brother John, whom we didn’t know well.
Andrew got out of the car, knocked on the door, and waited. He was just about to return to the car when the door opened. Andrew shook Brother John’s hand and said, “Hello, my name is Andrew, and I’m from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Tomorrow is fast Sunday, and the bishop has asked us to visit members to receive any fast-offering donations they wish to make.”
He handed Brother John an envelope. Brother John was surprised, but he walked inside with the envelope. After a few minutes he emerged from the house with a smile. He politely thanked Andrew and handed the envelope to him. I got out of the car, and we three chatted for a while. As we were leaving, Brother John waved good-bye and said, “Make sure you come next month.” Andrew was excited all the way back to the chapel, where we turned in our envelopes to a member of the bishopric.
The next month we made sure to visit Brother John. Again he was friendly. After a few months he began attending church on fast Sunday. Our Saturday visits reminded him of his Sunday meetings, and he would come the next day.
We were excited when Brother John became active in the Church. We felt a special bond with him. Words cannot express the joy that came to us because one soul had returned to the fold. Within a few months, he was attending regularly, and soon he was called to serve in the elders quorum presidency.
For us, the highlight of this experience came when Brother John was asked to speak in sacrament meeting about tithes and offerings. At the end of his talk he spoke about Andrew’s first visit.
With moistened eyes he said: “Andrew, you will never know the impact you had on my life that Saturday morning when you came to my door with that blue envelope. You may have thought it was a waste of time, but blessings came into my life because you provided me with an opportunity to pay my fast offering. Your service is one reason I am here today.”