In Sunday School today, Ryan had someone read the following story:

Frederick William Hurst was working as a gold miner in Australia when he first heard Latter-day Saint missionaries preach the restored gospel. He and his brother Charles were baptized in January 1854. He tried to help his other family members become converted, but they rejected him and the truths he taught.

Fred settled in Salt Lake City four years after joining the Church, and he served faithfully as a missionary in several different countries. He also worked as a painter in the Salt Lake Temple. In one of his final journal entries, he wrote:

“Along about the 1st of March, 1893, I found myself alone in the dining room, all had gone to bed. I was sitting at the table when to my great surprize my elder brother Alfred walked in and sat down opposite me at the table and smiled. I said to him (he looked so natural): ‘When did you arrive in Utah?’

“He said: ‘I have just come from the Spirit World, this is not my body that you see, it is lying in the tomb. I want to tell you that when you were on your mission you told me many things about the Gospel, and the hereafter, and about the Spirit World being as real and tangible as the earth. I could not believe you, but when I died and went there and saw for myself I realized that you had told the truth. I attended the Mormon meetings.’ He raised his hand and said with much warmth: ‘I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart. I believe in faith, and repentance and baptism for the remission of sins, but that is as far as I can go. I look to you to do the work for me in the temple. … You are watched closely. … We are all looking to you as our head in this great work. I want to tell you that there are a great many spirits who weep and mourn because they have relatives in the Church here who are careless and are doing nothing for them” (Diary of Frederick William Hurst, comp. Samuel H. and Ida Hurst [1961], 204).[1]

It is interesting to note that this departed person, having heard but not fully accepting the word of the Lord while living, “attended the Mormon meetings” in the spirit world.  The implication is that missionary work is occurring in the spirit world, just as it is on Earth.  When Christ preached to the spirits in prison (D&C 138:18-19), he prepared spirits to be missionaries to the wicked and disobedient people (D&C 138:29-37) of whom he did not go himself (D&C 138:20-21).

Now consider this story written by Wilford Woodruff:

Perhaps I may be permitted to relate a circumstance with which I am acquainted in relation to Bishop Roskelley, of Smithfield, Cache Valley.  On one occasion he was suddenly taken very sick — near to death’s door.  While he lay in this condition, President Peter Maughan, who was dead, came to him and said: “Brother Roskelley, we held a council on the other side of the [veil].  I have had a great deal to do, and I have the privilege of coming here to appoint one man to come and help.  i have had three names given to me in council, and you are one of them.  I want to inquire into your circumstances.”  The bishop told him what he had to do, and they conversed together as one man would converse with another.  President Maughan then said to him: “I think I will not call you.  I think you are wanted here more than perhaps one of the others.”  Bishop Roskelley got well from that hour.  Very soon after, the second man was taken sick, but…Brother Roskelley did not go to him.  By and by this man recovered, and on meeting Brother Roskelley he said: “Brother Maughan came to me the other night and told me he was sent to call one man from the ward,” and he named two men as had been done to Brother Roskelley.  A few days afterwards the third man was taken sick and died.  Now, I name this to show a principle. They have work to do on the other side of the [veil]; and they want men, and they call them.[2]

Again, the implication is that work is being performed in the spirit world, and it is missionary work.  We don’t know to be sure exactly what form it consists of.  After all, these are spirits which are not subject to the physical limitations or weaknesses that a mortal body straps us with.  But considering the number of people who have lived on this Earth, and comparing how relatively few have been true and obedient to the commandments of God, the workload must be enormous. 

We have all heard and likely used the phrase “called home” when referring to a person who has departed this life.  You never know, it could be that simple.  Perhaps that person was needed there more than here and so left this mortal existence to preach the gospel on a far grander scale. 

[1] Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 39.

[2] Best Loved Stories of the LDS People, Volume 3, page 21.

This entry was posted on Sunday, November 1st, 2009 at 7:23 pm and is filed under Church Meetings, Missionary Work, Scriptures. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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