Posted by: capetownelder | May 16, 2011

It’s the End of the World as We Know It!

Hello family and friends! It’s Elder Leach here with more adventures from South Africa. I can honestly say there’s never a dull moment in a place like this. It was nice to talk to my family on Mother’s Day, but they couldn’t hear the clicks of the Xhosa language very well over the phone.

A big subject in these parts is the end of the world. Apparently some psycho radio group in California has predicted, “through careful study of the Bible” that the end of the world will be on Saturday May 21st, 2011! Can you believe it?! So soon. Needless to say, these superstitious South Africans don’t quite know what to do with themselves now that they believe the clock is almost done ticking. Whatever happened to those trusty Mayans and their December 21st, 2012 prediction? Hmmm…two dooms day forecasts within a year and a half of each other. A Bible radio group vs. The Mayans! This should be fun.

Anyway, the subject of this letter is actually about being “too late”. Elder Critchfield and I have noticed minimal success this past week, though success nonetheless. One individual we found last Thursday in particular, Mzwandile (m-zwahn-dee-lay), had many concerns regarding the Atonement of Jesus Christ and when time really does run out for sinners to turn to repentance. He has a smoking and drinking problem, though he doesn’t consider himself dependent on alcohol as much as he is on tobacco. But he did utter a sad phrase that I’ve heard too many times in the mission field,

“I just fear I’ve done too much and gone too far to be forgiven,” he said with apparent disappointment in his voice. “It’s too late for me.”

Hearing that wasn’t easy. I just sat there in silence, waiting for the right words. I mean, of course that statement wasn’t true, but how are you supposed to relate to something like that? I’ve never brought my lips even close to alcohol nor have I ever been within reaching distance of a box of cigarettes. I began to contemplate how to handle this situation.

“Perhaps,” I began after a lengthy period of silence. “…perhaps this is the time we need most to look at God as our Father.” Perceiving Mzwandile was waiting for an explanation, I continued. “Your two daughters learned how to walk at a young age, but how many times did you see them fall before they could run into your arms from across the room?”

Smiling to himself, he looked down and said, “Many.”

“As we progress in this often difficult mortal life, we must be sure Heavenly Father will pick us up when we fall and invite us to run to His welcome arms yet again. When we fall, He doesn’t leave us there, flat on our faces, to cry and sob in discouragement. Being the Perfect Father He is, an arm is extended and we can either have a fit on the floor, or get back up, wipe off the dirt and try again.”

He nodded his head in agreement. “Yes, that is true,” he said. “But this is a very personal issue. I’m dealing with alcohol and tobacco here, not merely learning how to walk!”

“Don’t you think Jesus Christ, when he suffered for your sins in the garden of Gethsemane, knew what it was like to be addicted to something?” Elder Critchfield and I responded. “That’s HOW you can repent and come closer to God, because Christ suffered so you didn’t have to. He knows perfectly well what you’re facing.”

By the end of the lesson, we asked Mzwandile, “When does your biggest temptation to drink happen?”

“Definitely Saturdays,” he said.

“Around what time?” we asked.

“Typically right after work at about 2 or 3 in the afternoon…”

“Can we see you at 2:00 on Saturday then?”

He smiled. Of course he agreed for us to come by at the height of his temptations and we did so. And that second lesson was just as uplifting and encouraging for him as the first. In fact, two of his drunkard friends came into the lesson on that Saturday, and both were turned away. We congratulated him on his courage, and told him that further prayer, scripture study and church attendance will keep him strong.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is a beautiful thing. I am so grateful He volunteered to come down here on this earth to save us from Satan’s awful traps and temptations. I know with a surety, that now is the time to change and come closer to our Savior and Father in Heaven. It is not too late. But it is also important to remember, we have been sufficiently warned. The night will soon come when no man can preform their labors. Take a hold of this opportunity and come unto Him.

I love you all and stay safe! The end is not yet, no, not even May 21st. But I know our Lord and Saviour will come in the not to distant future and I anticipate that glorious day!

Love,

Elder Matthew G. Leach
South Africa Cape Town Mission

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