A couple of years ago, I was a student in Pocatello, Idaho. Money was tight for my wife, my son, and me, so we tried to find inexpensive ways (read: free) to entertain our son. This was particularly challenging during the winter months when the weather was often too cold or too wet to go to a park. Fortunately, the local mall had a children’s playground where kids could go to release some of their energy. One day while I was watching our son play at this indoor playground, a Latino boy came and sat right up next to me. After a while, I asked him how he was doing. He replied, “Bien.” I thought this would be a good opportunity to practice the little bit of Spanish I learned in high school, so I began to ask him questions. I learned that his name was Christopher and that his mom was at home. After a pause in our conversation, Christopher turned to me and said, “David, yo tengo hambre” or, “I am hungry.” As I looked into that boy’s eyes, something struck me. I longed not only to feed that child, but any child who may be hungry throughout the world.
Perhaps I didn’t recognize it at the time, but what I likely felt that day was the love of God. The prophet Joseph Smith stated that “A man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race” (History of the Church, 4:226–27). Since that experience in the mall, I have felt a greater urgency to alleviate the poverty and suffering experienced by so many in the world. I had a sense of zeal, but was short on knowledge.
Too often I pay tithing and fast offering and consider the poor and the needy helped. Those of us from countries which offer governmental assistance such as food or health care to the poor and the needy may likewise feel that they are fulfilling their duty to assist the poor and the needy by paying taxes. I recently came across a talk from Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin which caused me to recognize that the Lord expects more of me. He said, in part
At this very hour on this very day, some members even in our Church are praying for the miracle that would allow them to surmount the suffering that surrounds them. If, while we have the means to do so, we do not have compassion for them and spring to their aid, we are in danger of being among those the prophet Moroni spoke of when he said, “Behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel…more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted (The Law of the Fast. Ensign, May 2001:74).
I may not have much money, but my family and I have been tremendously blessed beyond our needs. As I have reflected lately on how I might do more to alleviate poverty, I couldn’t help but think of the great history of the LDS people in caring for the poor and the needy. When the Latter-day Saints are aware of a problem and become unified in solving that problem, we are a force to be reckoned with. It is my hope that this site will make us all aware of the desperate situations which so many of God’s children find themselves in every day, and provide us with the knowledge and opportunities we need to assist our brothers and sisters throughout the world.
If you, or someone you know has had success in this regard, we want to hear their story, learn of the organizations with which they are affiliated, and do what we can to help that specific cause along; you can reach us through the “Contact Us” tab on this site. Together, we can push for a world in which “there are no poor among [us]” (Moses 7:18).