Dallin H. Oaks, Miracles

Still another miracle is the way missionaries are protected during their labors. Of course we have fatalities among our young missionaries, about 3 to 6 per year over the last decade, all of them tragic. But the official death rates for comparable aged young men and women in the United States are 8 times higher than the death rates of our missionaries. In other words, our young men and women are 8 times safer in the mission field, than the general population of their peers at home. In view of the hazards of missionary labor, this mortality record is nothing less than a miracle.

Why don’t our talks in general conference and local meetings say more about the miracles we have seen? Most of the miracles we experience are not to be shared. Consistent with the teachings of the scriptures, we hold them sacred, and share them only when the spirit prompts us to do so.

Signs follow them that believe. Seeking a miracle to convert someone is improper sign seeking. By the same token, it is usually inappropriate to recite miraculous circumstances to a general audience that includes people with very different levels of spiritual maturity. To a general audience, miracles will be faith reinforcing for some, but an inappropriate sign for others. There are good reasons why we do not seek conversion by exhibiting signs. “The viewing of signs and miracles is not a secure foundation for conversion. Scriptural history attests that people converted by signs and wonders soon forget them, and again become susceptible to the lies and distortions of Satan and his servants. In contrast to the witness of the spirit, which can be renewed from time to time as needed by a worthy recipient, the viewing of a sign, or the experiencing of a miracle is a one time event that will fade in the memory of it’s witness and can dim in it’s impact upon him or her.” [unknown]

I had an experience with the gift of tongues in the newly opened country of Bulgaria. In November 1990, we sent missionaries to Bulgaria. A handful of Elders entered from Serbia, without any contacts or training in the Bulgarian language. Through their labors, and the blessings of the Lord, we soon had 45 Bulgarian members. In April 1991, I went to Bulgaria with area President Hanz B. Reincher, and mission president Dennis B. Neuinshwander. There, most of our members, and about 150 investigators assembled in an attractive civic building in Sophia for a fireside at which I was to speak. My interpreter was Morella Mozeroth, a newly baptized member in her 20s. The audience included many professional people and some government officials. I had prayed fervently for guidance in this talk, but had little time for preparation. I began by telling the audience of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and how we differed from other Christian churches. I then felt impressed to speak about the apostasy which I did in some detail. In doing so, I completely forgot that I was speaking through an interpreter who had been a member only 5 months and had almost no background in the subject of the apostasy. Forgetful of this, I made no attempt to speak in simple terms, but made extensive use of the unfamiliar English words involved in a detailed explanation of the apostasy and the restoration. After the crowd departed, Sister Mozeroth tearfully told me of her unique experience in translating my talk. Despite her fluency in English, she sometimes heard me speak words or express ideas she did not understand in English. She said that whenever this happened, another voice spoke through her so she found herself using words, or explaining concepts in Bulgarian that she did not understand in English. I told her to cherish this experience and testify of it to others. She had experienced the gift of tongues in a classic circumstance in which the Lord gives a spiritual gift to one person so that others of his children can be edified, and his work can be forwarded.

Dallin H. Oaks, (May 07, 2000) Miracles


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