Monday, November 15, 2010

The Lord's Tender Mercies

Usually people use this title with their post to report how the Lord has blessed them personally, but I wanted to share a story I heard in stake conference on Sunday. The speaker was our Oakland mission president. He said that he and his wife became acquainted with a journalist who has become a friend of the Church. He is a black man who has been co-authoring a book about the "Freeman's Bank". This bank was set up in 1865 in the south for former slaves. The slaves would deposit their meager earnings in this only "bank for blacks" at that time. Unfortunately, they lost their money. I'm not sure if the bank went bankrupt or what, but it is a tragedy that these former slaves, who were trying to build a life for themselves, lost their savings. This journalist was quite bitter about this event, that is, until he visited the geneology library in Utah.

When he went to the geneology library, the patron there explained more about this situation to him. He told him that because most slaves at that time were illiterate, they had to have an interview to register at the bank. These interviews were recorded. So, for example, a man would say, "My name is James Johnson. I am married to Eliza Johnson. We had a son Tom, but he was sold by our master when he was 10 years old." In another part of the State, another man would be interviewed and might say, "My name is Tom Johnson. My parents were James and Eliza. I was sold in to slavery when I was 10 years old." In this way they might be able to find each other.

In addition to this, the Church has copied the Freeman's bank records and has them available on CD-ROM. People who search the records can do the geneology work for their ancestors, then have their temple ordinances performed. They can be baptized for them, and have them sealed as families in the temple. Although the initial loss of their savings was a hardship, this bank turned out to be a blessing to the people because of the records that were kept. It is a testament that even in hard times, the Lord can bless us.

When this was told to the journalist, he had a change of heart. He said, "My name was Saul, but now it is Paul." He was convinced that the Lord had blessed his people through this event. It's another example of the tender mercies that the Lord showers upon us, even in times of trouble.

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