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Missionary finding his lost brother & avoiding dogs


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I know there have been a couple threads about this already, but they were closed for unknown reasons and since this story was told in my Sunday School class yesterday I wanted to make an attempt at this subject again.  Here are links to three versions of this story that were posted about before.  

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865683974/The-divine-companionship-includes-the-Holy-Ghost-in-missionary-work-Elder-Holland-says.html

http://www.texashoustonsouthmission.com/weekly-presidents-pen/2016/4/25/presidents-pen-4-25-16

http://hermanaalisonknight.blogspot.com/2015/11/one-month-down-17-to-go.html

And here is another blog that I found with a similar account:

http://savvysmissionaryblog.blogspot.com/2015/11/carry-on.html

Quote

And then he ended with a powerful story about a boy from Idaho who in his teens decided to run away from home and join a motorcycle gang. He was with the Hell's Angels for nearly twenty years before he woke up one day in New York and realizing that he had no idea on how he had gotten there. Drove all the way to California to one of the 'safe houses' where he tried to sober himself out. While sitting on the front porch of this house he saw two missionaries walk by. He just sneered at them when they started towards his gate which was guarded by two attack dogs. However, to his immense surprise just as the elders opened the gate the two killer dogs simply went to the base of their chains and fell asleep. Too surprised to say anything he watched as the missionaries came up to him on the porch. One of them smiled and nodded at him while the other asked where he was from. Looking at them warily he responded with his home town in Idaho. The elder paused and then asked if he knew two names. He nodded once and then responded "They're my parents." The missionary blinked nodded once and then said. "They're my parents too." While this revelation blew the man away the Elder then had the state of mind to continue. "God has sent me here to invite you home." And he did. He went home he cleaned up he got to know this brother he never knew he had. The end of the story is that just about a year ago he was sealed in the temple to his wife.

All four versions have differences elements to the story, but some similar threads exist.  The person in my ward brought this story up as a faith promoting missionary experience.  This made me think about an NPR Hidden Brain episode that I listened to recently that talked about how we perceive the phenomena of coincidence.  Very interesting podcast on the subject, I recommend checking it out.  

http://www.npr.org/player/embed/527053652/527485547

When stories like this are shared, is it a good thing for our faith community?  Knowing that many more members will have family members who leave the church and never return, isn't sharing a story like this more likely to produce false hope in people, making people question whether they are righteous enough to deserve this kind of a blessing from God.  

Does it do more harm than good to share stories like this, considering how rare they are?  Or is false hope actually a net positive thing for people to hold on to?  Thoughts?

 

 

Edited by hope_for_things
grammar
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2 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

When stories like this are shared, is it a good thing for our faith community?  Knowing that many more members will have family members who leave the church and never return, isn't sharing a story like this more likely to produce false hope in people, making people question whether they are righteous enough to deserve this kind of a blessing from God.  

Does it do more harm than good to share stories like this, considering how rare they are?  Or is false hope actually a net positive thing for people to hold on to?  Thoughts?

 

 

So if you don't believe that it is a good thing to share a story such as this, what criteria would a faith promoting story need to meet to qualify for sharing?  I don't think the point of these stories is "it will happen to you."  But we do believe in a god of miracles and we can be happy that miracles happen in the lives of others.  And we certainly can expect to have miracles happen in our own lives if we are obedient to God's commands.  But the miracles come in His time and in His way.

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2 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

For every miracle that seems to occur and/or is shared through faith promoting stories are people who haven't experienced a miracle wondering "why not me?"

It reminds me of the terrorist attack last year in which it was reported that no missionaries were killed, as if they were protected because they were missionaries. Of course, the people who were killed, and their families likely didn't find much solace that God spared someone else while allowing their loved one to perish.

I think there are many people who wonder this. Aren't these faith promoting stories the exception rather than the rule.  Are we scared to be honest about the challenges of life?  Personally I feel like church is often very shallow when it comes to sharing stories like this, does every story have to have a faith promoting ending of some kind? 

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3 minutes ago, ksfisher said:

So if you don't believe that it is a good thing to share a story such as this, what criteria would a faith promoting story need to meet to qualify for sharing?  I don't think the point of these stories is "it will happen to you."  But we do believe in a god of miracles and we can be happy that miracles happen in the lives of others.  And we certainly can expect to have miracles happen in our own lives if we are obedient to God's commands.  But the miracles come in His time and in His way.

Its a good question, and really why I wanted to get the input of others.  Should we be careful before sharing faith promoting stories especially knowing that miracles are not the rule of thumb, and that many people don't experience them.  Is empathy an important element to consider, and is there a way we can share a faith promoting story, but also be empathetic at the same time, maybe as part of the story we could acknowledge how these things don't always work or happy endings don't always happen.  

Is it enough to say that miracles come according to God's timing and God's will, or does that still produce some stigma that might hurt people that feel like they just have to try harder to be righteous enough to qualify for the blessing?  

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23 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

For every miracle that seems to occur and/or is shared through faith promoting stories are people who haven't experienced a miracle wondering "why not me?"

It reminds me of the terrorist attack last year in which it was reported that no missionaries were killed, as if they were protected because they were missionaries. Of course, the people who were killed, and their families likely didn't find much solace that God spared someone else while allowing their loved one to perish.

I thought about this when I read what Pres. Nelson promised recently: 

"The missionaries, said President Nelson, collectively constitute the lifeblood of the next generation.

'The day will come when they will sit in chairs that we now occupy,' he said. 'Persuade them to become devout disciples of the Lord. Teach them to be obedient to the laws of God and man. As they so live, they will be protected, physically and spiritually.'"

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865684132/President-Russell-M-Nelson-Personal-priorities-and-His-purposes.html

What about the missionaries who have died or been killed while serving a mission?  How does this make their family members feel to hear promises such as this one?

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3 minutes ago, T-Shirt said:

Are you suggesting that faith promoting stories should not be shared in order to avoid offending those who have not yet recognized a similar event in their lives?

I'd like us to be thoughtful about the pros and cons of sharing these kinds of stories, and I'm asking some questions about whether or not we should tell these stories, what are some of the pros/cons to sharing a story like this?  Are there negative consequences that we should be aware of and consider?  

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6 minutes ago, JulieM said:

What about the missionaries who have died or been killed while serving a mission?  How does this make their family members feel to hear promises such as this one?

This is a great comment, thanks JulieM.  Not only missionaries that die, but also missionaries that come home early for various reasons, as this is becoming more common in recent years.  If we don't think about how these stories might impact the suffering of others in our congregations we are potentially doing harm.  

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49 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

For every miracle that seems to occur and/or is shared through faith promoting stories are people who haven't experienced a miracle wondering "why not me?"

It reminds me of the terrorist attack last year in which it was reported that no missionaries were killed, as if they were protected because they were missionaries. Of course, the people who were killed, and their families likely didn't find much solace that God spared someone else while allowing their loved one to perish.

While some may feel that way, there may be others that are comforted knowing that there were those who were spared.

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17 minutes ago, cinepro said:

First, I would take screen-grabs of the different versions because I suspect if this gains any traction, they'll disappear.

But reading the different accounts doesn't bother me at all.  Obviously, Elder Holland has told the story several times to different audiences, and each time, he emphasizes certain details and aspects of the event.  For example, was the house guarded by "Rottweilers" or "Doberman Pinschers"? If we only had the Texas account, we might think they were Rottweilers.  If we only had the DN account, we might think they were Dobermans.  But through both accounts, we can learn the full scope of the story in that there were actually four dogs: two Rottweilers and two Dobermans.  This detail only heightens the danger the missionaries were in, and gives us a greater understanding of the story.  There is no conflict at all between the two stories. When the stories refer to "two dogs", that doesn't mean they are referring to all the dogs, since there were actually four.  It only means that the story teller at the time decided to emphasize those two particular dogs.

Of course, since this is a story of real people, taking place in real places in the modern world, it should be possible for someone sharing the story to get additional info about these events.  Certainly, it would be possible for someone sharing or reporting the story to do so.  We could even call such a person a "sharer" or "reporter" of the story.  Hopefully such a person could track down these additional details as a course of their job as a "sharer" or "reporter."  Ideally, this person would even have special skills, experience and training in this area to make sure it is done properly.  Maybe one day it will happen.

 

I would also add that everyone should read this book about probability.  After reading it, you might find yourself listening to these stories and thinking "that only happened once?  It should have happened much more than that just by chance."

Great comments cinepro, I laughed at the FV satire, and I totally agree with you about tracking down the story since I assume these people are alive today, couldn't someone contact the missionary or the formerly wayward brother, or the companion of the missionary, and do a little investigative reporting.  

Also, thanks for that book reference, I'm adding it to my book wish list! 

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27 minutes ago, hope_for_things said:

I totally agree with you about tracking down the story since I assume these people are alive today, couldn't someone contact the missionary or the formerly wayward brother, or the companion of the missionary, and do a little investigative reporting.  

Did you miss this, from one of the links you posted:

Quote

Elder Holland closed by relating a story — being careful to protect the privacy and anonymity of the participants — of a young man from southern Idaho.

 

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1 hour ago, Calm said:

While some may feel that way, there may be others that are comforted knowing that there were those who were spared.

I would never say how i would actually feel in such a situation, but right now, thinking intellectually and rationally about it, I think it would give me comfort knowing that God was in control.  

I would rather lose a loved one, even if others were saved, knowing God was aware of who was dying, than think that God either didn't care who lived or died, or could not intervene to bring about His will in the matter even though He did care. 

I would hope that in the event of such a situation, that I wouldn't be so selfish as to be upset that some had been spared, just because my loved one wasn't.  But I also recognize that grief is not usually rational or kind and that's o.k.  

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I'm going to chalk it up to coincidence that the missionary found his long lost brother. And I'm now thinking that God provided a world and now onto other things. I don't believe He can answer our prayers and I think it's up to us basically. If this were not the case it shows that God is a respector of persons. It's the lost key analogy, someone prays to find their keys and get their prayer answered. But the poor soul that is in far worse condition doesn't? 

No, the God whom I now believe in, doesn't hold a lot of control, we are pretty much on our own, or that God does have favorites, or who prays the hardest, or who is the most righteous, wins? No, that's not how I picture Him at all anymore. I think He gave us agency and it's up to us how we use it. And the poor souls that were born with nothing and in the poorest of situations, I hope the angels are there to get them through until they do die. Or anyone that is going through an ordeal. 

I'm now becoming immuned to the faith promoting stories because of the huge descrepancies between the situations out there. I know how cynical I sound, and maybe I'll change my mind, but until then I need some hard facts, from the first party to believe this story anymore. Or it is believable, just not giving God the whole credit, though I would like to. Except then, I would have to accept a God that doesn't care about so many others out there. 

Edited by Tacenda
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1 hour ago, cinepro said:

Of course, since this is a story of real people, taking place in real places in the modern world, it should be possible for someone sharing the story to get additional info about these events.  Certainly, it would be possible for someone sharing or reporting the story to do so. 

Well, one of those sharing the story was personally acquainted with the ex-Hell's Angel (Kim B. Clark stated that they served together).  I'd imagine the members in the area where he served or where his family is from, would know them too, along with their history (the missionary and his older brother).

Edited by JulieM
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13 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I'm going to stock it up to coincidence that the missionary found his long lost brother.

Coincidences happen.

Anyone remember this story from earlier in the year about the missionary serving in Ghana who found a child wearing his donated Utah Jazz jersey? What are the odds? Not great. Miracle? If so, it's a pretty benign miracle.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865679320/LDS-missionary-finds-his-own-Jr-Jazz-jersey-while-serving-in-Africa.html

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18 minutes ago, Tacenda said:

I'm going to stock it up to coincidence that the missionary found his long lost brother. And I'm now thinking that God provided a world and now onto other things. I don't believe He can answer our prayers and I think it's up to us basically. If this were not the case it shows that God is a respector of persons. It's the lost key analogy, someone prays to find their keys and get their prayer answered. But the poor soul that is in far worse condition doesn't? 

No, the God whom I now believe in, doesn't hold a lot of control, we are pretty much on our own, or that God does have favorites, or who prays the hardest, or who is the most righteous, wins? No, that's not how I picture Him at all anymore. I think He gave us agency and it's up to us how we use it. And the poor souls that were born with nothing and in the poorest of situations, I hope the angels are there to get them through until they do die. Or anyone that is going through an ordeal. 

I'm now becoming immuned to the faith promoting stories because of the huge descrepancies between the situations out there. I know how cynical I sound, and maybe I'll change my mind, but until then I need some hard facts, from the first party to believe this story anymore. Or it is believable, just not giving God the whole credit, though I would like to. Except then, I would have to accept a God that doesn't care about so many others out there. 

And it came to pass that thus passed away the ninety and fifth year also, and the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen—

Imagining up some vain thing in their hearts, that it was wrought by men and by the power of the devil, to lead away and deceive the hearts of the people; and thus did Satan get possession of the hearts of the people again, insomuch that he did blind their eyes and lead them away to believe that the doctrine of Christ was a foolish and a vain thing.

Edited by Danzo
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8 minutes ago, Danzo said:

And it came to pass that thus passed away the ninety and fifth year also, and the people began to forget those signs and wonders which they had heard, and began to be less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen—

Imagining up some vain thing in their hearts, that it was wrought by men and by the power of the devil, to lead away and deceive the hearts of the people; and thus did Satan get possession of the hearts of the people again, insomuch that he did blind their eyes and lead them away to believe that the doctrine of Christ was a foolish and a vain thing.

Are you preaching, bearing testimony, or quoting scripture without attribution or comment?

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Just now, HappyJackWagon said:

Are you preaching, bearing testimony, or quoting scripture without attribution or comment?

I have the same question.  Passing a judgement on Tacenda and her experience doesn't seem right to me. 

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16 minutes ago, Jeanne said:

I have the same question.  Passing a judgement on Tacenda and her experience doesn't seem right to me. 

It's okay Jeanne, I'm just having one of those days, and my comments were just a little on the dark side. Or unbelieving in miracles sounding. I'm not usually this way, will hope for a change in attitude soon. 

Edited by Tacenda
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Just now, Tacenda said:

It's okay Jeanne, I'm just having one of those days, and my sentiments were just a little on the dark side. Or unbelieving in miracles sounding. I'm not usually this way, will hope for a change in attitude soon. 

Good deal...everyone has those days...best to you.  Just know that I always listen and appreciate your thoughts.

Edited by Jeanne
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22 minutes ago, HappyJackWagon said:

Coincidences happen.

Anyone remember this story from earlier in the year about the missionary serving in Ghana who found a child wearing his donated Utah Jazz jersey? What are the odds? Not great. Miracle? If so, it's a pretty benign miracle.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865679320/LDS-missionary-finds-his-own-Jr-Jazz-jersey-while-serving-in-Africa.html

I do remember this, and I guess if God wants to do the little miracles, and not the big ones, I'll have to live with it. I can't get the tragedies out of my mind, will have to zero in on these and be grateful. But I know that's not what the OP is about. ETA: Maybe my comments aren't off topic so much. After re-reading the OP, I do think it may make someone feel like crap if someone attributes something being blessed by God or a miracle, and yet others don't get that privilege, might be what I'm talking about. 

Edited by Tacenda
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