Study helps: One in Christ – Elder Ulisses Soares

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According to Elder Soares, how does the Amazon River represent members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ?

‘On every continent and across isles of the sea, the faithful are being gathered into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Differences in cultural background, language, gender, and facial features fade into insignificance as members lose themselves in service to their beloved Savior. Paul’s declaration is being fulfilled: “As many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Gal. 3:27–28

Only the comprehension of the true Fatherhood of God can bring full appreciation of the true brotherhood of man. That understanding inspires desire to build bridges of cooperation instead of walls of segregation.’ (Russell M Nelson, General Conference, April 1994)

What do you understand by the the phrase ‘true brotherhood of man’?

In a similar way that the Solimões and Negro Rivers flow together to make the great Amazon River, the children of God come together in the restored Church of Jesus Christ from different social backgrounds, traditions, and cultures, forming this wonderful community of Saints in Christ. Eventually, as we encourage, support, and love each other, we combine to form a mighty force for good in the world. As followers of Jesus Christ, flowing as one in this river of goodness, we will be able to provide the “fresh water” of the gospel to a thirsty world.

What does this comparison teach us about the influence new members can have on the Church?

Our new friends bring God-given talents, excitement, and goodness within them. Their enthusiasm for the gospel can be contagious, thereby helping us revitalize our own testimonies. They also bring fresh perspectives to our understanding of life and the gospel.

What can we learn from new members?

As these new friends merge into this new and unfamiliar river, they may feel a little lost at first. These new friends find themselves blending into a river with unique origins, temperatures, and chemical compositions—a river that has its own traditions, culture, and vocabulary. This new life in Christ may seem overwhelming for them. Think for a moment about how they may feel as they hear for the first time such expressions as “FHE,” “BYC,” “fast Sunday,” “baptism for the dead,” “triple combination,” and so forth.

What other things must feel or sound strange to new members?

It is easy to see why they may feel like they don’t belong. In such situations, they may ask themselves, “Is there a place for me here? Do I fit into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? Does the Church need me? Will I find new friends willing to help and support me?”

My dear friends, in such moments, those of us who are at different points in the long journey of discipleship must extend a warm hand of fellowship to our new friends, accept them where they are, and help, love, and include them in our lives. All of these new friends are precious sons and daughters of God.

How can we as a quorum or Relief Society follow Elder Soares’s counsel to encourage, support, and love new converts? (see Moroni 6:4–5).

When the Solimões and Negro Rivers blend together, the Amazon River becomes mighty and strong. In a similar fashion, when we and our new friends truly merge, the restored Church of Jesus Christ becomes even stronger and steadier.

How have new members have strengthened your ward or branch?

(NB: Excerpts from Elder Soares’ address are shown in italics)

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