The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently called the “Mormon Church”), and individual Mormons perform a remarkable amount of humanitarian aid. That is why the LDS Church is known the world over for its charity. Because Mormon humanitarian aid is always at the ready, Mormon aid is often the first at the site of a disaster. Because of the humanitarian aid missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ, Mormon volunteers are also often the last to leave the site of a disaster, giving aid many years after disaster strikes to help with a full recovery from the event. The LDS Church also has many ongoing relief projects all over the world. One hundred percent of donated funds, most of it from Mormon donors, goes for relief of the poor, needy and afflicted, since the Church of Jesus Christ uses mostly volunteer labor to deliver aid.
But why? Mormonism teaches us to follow the admonitions of Jesus Christ:
“And they shall look to the poor and the needy, and administer to their relief that they shall not suffer…” (Doctrine and Covenants 38:35).
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints actually has a “mission statement,” and it is four-fold: to perfect the Saints (members of the Church), to preach the gospel to the world, to redeem the dead, and to care for the poor and needy.
In addition to making monetary donations to support the LDS Church’s vast humanitarian aid program, individual Mormons participate in many ways, devoting personal time and resources. The LDS Church has its own ranches, farms, orchards, and canneries, and foodstuffs produced there is crated and stands at the ready for instant shipment to disaster areas and food banks. Mormons volunteer hours producing the food and packaging it to be ready, then help with the disbursement of goods to stricken areas. There are other hands-on projects taking place in every unit of the Church. The Humanitarian Aid department is always in need of quilts of various sizes and requires that these quilts be beautiful but easy to care for and to dry. Quilt-making is done by individuals and groups throughout the Church. Members donate the materials and also assemble hygiene kits, school kits, baby care kits, and other sorts of kits, and then box them to be ready for shipping when needed. Handmade stuffed toys, toddler books, crocheted booties, and other projects round out the list of things Latter-day Saints can help with.
My Personal Experiences with LDS Humanitarian Aid
At this moment I live in Malaysia. I’m a part-time service missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Since our church has a lay clergy, every new member of the Church finds him or herself in some position of service as soon as the person joins the Church. That new convert may eventually lead a congregation or a number of congregations, something unimaginable to the person at the time of conversion. This demands an expansiveness of mind and honing of talents the person may not even realize he had. My husband and I teach deeper concepts of the gospel, and help people discover their God-given talents and use them in God’s service. Since we have been here in Malaysia, we have witnessed the LDS Church’s Humanitarian Aid projects as they enhance the lives of the people.
Clean water projects, eyeglasses for thousands of children, and wheelchair donations (along with training on how to use and care for them) are among the service projects here. They are performed in remote areas, usually at the suggestion of missionaries like us, and personally administered by them. When these missionaries report their efforts, they often find it difficult to speak, they have such love for the people and are so moved by the gratitude of those on the receiving end of Mormon aid.
Before I came to Malaysia, I lived in Utah. I never had much money to contribute, but I tried to participate in humanitarian aid projects as often as possible. Once a year, Brigham Young University sponsors a “women’s conference,” wherein women can choose from many fantastic classes and seminars to attend. During the conference the entire floor of an athletics building is converted to a humanitarian aid project, and women can drop by for minutes or hours to take part. On a smaller scale, such projects are mounted in congregational buildings (Mormon meetinghouses). I would try to make quilts as often as I could afford it, and gave much thought to making my quilts as cheerful and as beautiful as possible within my limited budget. I would picture someone made suddenly homeless, perhaps having lost family members and loved ones in an earthquake or tsunami, or someone stranded in a refugee camp somewhere, longing for some semblance of peace and comfort. I imagined the aid truck arriving and my quilt being lovingly handed to someone’s waiting arms, someone who would appreciate the love that went into the making of that quilt, and the pleasant beauty and warmth it would bring — some bright color in an otherwise dismal situation.
The goal of every active Mormon is to emulate the Savior more and more each day. He gave His life over completely to service, and He was every mindful of the poor and the afflicted. We are His hands. Every time we help Him with no thought for ourselves, we become more like Him and we feel His love.