CLICK HERE to read Alma 26.
In a sort of zone conference for the missionaries, Ammon the prophet gives a speech reflecting on how much God has blessed them (verse 1), which he challenges them to remember specifically (verse 2). He recounts the Lamanites being brought to “the marvelous light of God”, and they – as missionaries to the Lamanites – got to experience the opportunity of participating in that process (verse 3). He notes the many converts (verse 4), and he gives God the credit for having prepared the people and calling missionaries to serve them (verse 5). He describes the strength the converts have, giving credit to God for sending them missionaries to teach them well so that “when the storm cometh they shall be gathered together in their place, that the storm cannot penetrate to them; yea, neither shall they be driven with fierce winds withersoever the enemy listeth to carry them” (verse 6). These are the people of the Lord, he says (verse 7), and he praises God and thanks God “for he doth work righteousness forever” (verse 8).
Then he teaches something interesting, saying that if God had not called them as missionaries (for it is God’s work, and so He gets the credit), then these people would not have been rescued. But he also points out that the missionaries themselves had to do the work of humbling themselves and offering peace and being willing to reunite, or the rescue work could not have gotten done. If they had focused on being haters instead of healing, peace would not have come to any of them. These new converts they love so much “would still have been racked with hatred against us, ye, they would also have been strangers to God” (verse 9).
This is Ammon’s moment of rejoicing in a hard mission complete, though he is careful to give the credit to God, praising Him for being the one who orchestrated and accomplished the work.
But still, his brother Aaron warns him to be careful and not boast (verse 10). Ammon, however, says he is not boasting “in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God” (verse 11). He says:
“Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength, I am weak; therefore, I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever” (verse 12).
So he points out how many converts were rescued, saying that this was God’s work and for His glory because “they are brought to sing redeeming love” to God (verse 13). This is what gives them reason to rejoice, he says, not because of what they have done but in response to who God is and what He has done for the people (verse 13).
“Yea, they were encircled about with everlasting darkness and destruction; but behold, he has brought them into his everlasting light, yea, into everlasting salvation; and they are encircled about with the matchless bounty of his love; yea, and we have been instruments in his hands of doing this great and marvelous work” (verse 15).
So they should glory, he says, in the Lord (not in themselves), and they “will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever… who can say too much of his great power, and of his mercy, and of his long-suffering towards the children of men? Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel” (verse 16).
This is the overwhelming feeling of who has been rescued, that they cannot say the smallest part of what they feel.
“Who could have supposed that our God would have been so merciful as to have snatched us from our awful, sinful, and polluted state? Behold, we went forth even in wrath, with mighty threatenings to destroy his church. Oh then, why did he not consign us to an awful destruction, yea, why did he not let the sword of his justice fall upon us and doom us to eternal despair? Oh my soul, almost as it were, fleeth at the thought. Behold, he did not exercise his justice upon us, but in his great mercy hath brought us over that everlasting gulf of death and misery, even to the salvation of our souls” (verses 17-20).
No one knows these things, he says, and no one can understand them, except for those who have repented, those who are penitent, those who know they have been rescued (verse 21).
“Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing – unto such it is given to know the mysteries (ordinances!) of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed…” (verse 22).
He reminds the missionaries of their younger days, when they first declared publicly that they wanted to go and preach amongst the Lamanites, and everyone laughed at them and mocked them because the Lamanites were so hard-hearted and so hated them that it seemed completely impossible (verse 23).
“For they said unto us: Do ye suppose that ye can bring the Lamanites to the knowledge of the truth? Do ye suppose that ye can convince the Lamanites of the incorrectness of the traditions of their fathers, as stiffnecked a people as they are?” (verse 24).
The people who laughed at them said that instead of preaching to them, they should take up arms and destroy them (verse 25). But the missionaries had been convinced that they should love and serve the people instead of kill them, “with the intent that perhaps we might save some few of their souls” (verse 26).
But it was hard work, to find people who would listen to them amongst a people who hated them.
“Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success” (verse 27).
And so they did.
And they were patient in their sufferings, “and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world – not upon the mercies of the world alone, but upon the mercies of God” (verse 28). They taught the people in their homes, and suffered many things while trying to find people ready and willing to listen: “we have been cast out, and mocked and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again” (verse 29).
But it was all worth it.
“And we have suffered all many of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some” (verse 30).
So now, to look back on what all God has done, and to see how His plan unfolded, and see the beauty of its orchestration, this is a marvelous thing and causes them to rejoice – even that now they do love this people and there is peace between them, instead of hatred and war. This is the greatest miracle (verse 31).
And now, because missionaries came to teach them instead of destroy them, the people have followed their example. Instead of hating and destroying, “they had rather sacrifice their lives than even to take the life of their enemy; and they have buried their weapons of war deep in the earth, because of their love towards their brethren” (verse 32). This is the greatest love of all, he says (verse 33), sincere peace between those who once were at were. It’s at-one-ment!
And the people have really done this, remained at-one and at-peace, not just in words, but in very deed. Many really did die, refusing to battle their enemies, “and we know that they have gone to their God, because of their love and of their hatred to sin” (verse 34). So this, he says, is plenty of “reason to rejoice” (verse 35), knowing that they are rejoicing in God (and not themselves) because “he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name” (verse 35).
God is mindful of His people, and does not forget them, even when they have wandered (verse 36).
This is why they rejoice.
“… we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people… Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen” (verse 37).