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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Would I Stand?

In the news we've recently heard about the shooter in Oregon who specifically targeted Christians.  An article from CNN reports the following:

"Stacy Boylan, the father of Anastasia Boylan, who was wounded, said she told him the gunman singled out Christians.

She said the gunman entered her classroom firing, told the professor teaching the class, "I've been waiting to do this for years," and shot him point blank, Stacy Boylan said.

While reloading his handgun, the man ordered the students to stand up and asked whether they were Christians, Boylan told her family.

"And they would stand up, and he said, 'Good, because you're a Christian, you're going to see God in just about one second,' " Stacy Boylan told CNN, relaying his daughter's account. "And then he shot and killed them."

These students were martyrs!
This has me thinking deeply about what I would do in this situation.  How strong are my convictions?  Would I have the faith to stand at gunpoint and profess my beliefs if it meant losing my life?

Even Peter, who was a devoted disciple of Christ, insisted that he would die before ever denying his beloved Lord and Savior. (Matt 26:35) Then when the time came, when Peter had the opportunity to stand for his convictions, three times he caved, he gave way to fear, and buckled under the pressure.

"Was Peter a weak man? No; but he was not without the infirmities of human nature, and when the trial came he faltered a little. After all I do not think the mistake so grievous, all the circumstances considered, for he was surrounded by, and speaking to, a riotous, corrupt and bloodthirsty people, only he had said he would not do it, but he did it, that's all." - John Taylor

When Peter realized what he had done, he repented and wept bitterly.(Matt 26:75)  Seeing his weakness now, he was able to be made strong and he never did again deny Christ but went to his grave as a martyr.

"Was Peter valiant for the truth? He was. Was he imprisoned for the truth? (Acts 5:18 Acts 12:3-5) Yes. Did he proclaim against vice and advocate virtue? He did. And did he go forth and feed the lambs and flock of God? Yes; and he acted every way becoming to a man of God, and finally suffered a martyr's death. Shall we find fault with either of these men? No, we love them for their good deeds, and for their fidelity and integrity, and the great work which they accomplished in their day, in bringing forth the truths of the everlasting Gospel." - John Taylor

Reading these quotes from John Taylor causes me to reflect on the life of Joseph Smith.  In summer of 2012 I had the opportunity to visit Carthage Jail.  My fingers traced the bullet hole in the door of the upper room.  I imagined in my mind the horrific events that happened there. I looked out the glass pane Joseph jumped through to the ground below. The Sister missionary pointed to the well outside and said after Joseph was shot, the mob took his dead body, propped it up against that well, and proceeded to continue shooting him.  They also took the ends of their rifles and beat his face and body. My heart broke as I pondered these things.

Standing by that well was such sacred ground, my heart was overwhelmed with love and gratitude for my dear brother Joseph.  Oh, how I love him!  He gave his beautiful life as a testimony, a witness of his faith, his love for Christ, and his conviction of the restored Gospel.

Now if a gunman were to threaten me, to ask me to stand if I were a Christian?
Would I stand?
What if the threat went even further?
What if the gunman were to ask all those to stand who believe Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God?

Would I stand?
I'd like to say I would.  I pray I would.
I hope I would have that kind of courage.
I know with all of my heart that this gospel is true and that Joseph was called of God.  The Book of Mormon is true, the teachings within it have led me to Living Water, to Christ and His love.  I pray for the kind of faithful heart that would willingly lay my life down for what I believe.  And for as long as I'm called to live, I desire to stand as a witness of these things "at all times, in all things, and in all places!" (Mosiah 18:9)



Ramona Gordy said...

Wow Alicia
I did not know the details of this heinous crime.
One Sat I was heading to the Temple with my best friend and her husband. Her husband was driving, and we were a little late. He was driving at break neck speed and because it was Sat, so was everyone else. I suspect that on any given day, there is at least one psycho killer behind the wheel whose purpose that day is to be a jihadist and take out as many people as possible. I did not want to be that person and expressed myself to my friends quite passionately. My girlfriend asked me if I was ready to die and thus did I consider myself ready to meet God? Did I feel that I had lived a life that I felt I was worthy to meet God. Nope I was not ready and it wasn't fair that we should be put in a situation like this on purpose.
Since then, a few years have passed. I have considered that everyday I go out into the world, I need to be prepared to meet my Heavenly Father, prepare my family for an untimely loss. I have understood through trials by fire, how important it is to pray everyday, to read my scriptures, to show love. The benefits of those 3 things alone will be like a light, a comfort and help. I don't know what I would do in that situation, I hope that I would pray for revelation, pray for help, pray for strength and courage. I don't think it would have mattered what religion any one was, it seemed that this man was going to kill someone that day.
I thought about the witness of the Savior. When confronted literally by Pilate, at his own impending death, Jesus set's a great example. Luke 21 13-And it shall turn to you for a testimony. 14 Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer 15 For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.
Does this mean we could either be killed or spared because of our testimony? The Apostle Paul said that to live for me is Christ and to die is gain.
So I hope that in any occasion as dire as my imminent death by violence, I hope that I will have done all that I could do, and love God enough and prepare to meet Him.

Alicia Rawlins said...

Beautiful, Ramona! Thank you for your testimony. Being prepared is key. Have you heard the talk by Elder Holland, "Terror, Triumph, and the Wedding Feast"? https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/jeffrey-r-holland_terror-triumph-wedding-feast/