Mormons believe in honoring, obeying, and sustaining the law. Their leaders work with governments when they want to do the Lord’s work in a nation, a pattern that sometimes leads to interesting miracles, even in counties that do not have freedom of religion. Following are some stories and thoughts from Thomas S. Monson, Mormon prophet, on the Mormon Church’s experiences working with various world governments.
Mormons in German Democratic Republic
That special morning the sunlight bathed the city of Berlin. It had been raining all night, but now beauty prevailed. We were driven to the chambers of the chief representatives of the government.
Beyond the exquisite entry to the building, we were greeted by Chairman Honecker. We presented to him the statuette First Step, depicting a mother helping her child take its first step toward its father. He was highly pleased with the gift. He then escorted us into his private council room. There, around a large round table, we were seated. Others at the table included Chairman Honecker and his deputies of government.
Chairman Honecker began, “We know members of your Church believe in work; you’ve proven that. We know you believe in the family; you’ve demonstrated that. We know you are good citizens in whatever country you claim as home; we have observed that. The floor is yours. Make your desires known.”
I began, “Chairman Honecker, at the dedication and open house for the temple in Freiberg, 89,890 of your countrymen stood in line, at times up to four hours, frequently in the rain, that they might see a house of God. In the city of Leipzig, at the dedication of the stake center, 12,000 people attended the open house. In the city of Dresden there were 29,000 visitors; in the city of Zwickau, 5,300. And every week of the year 1,500 to 1,800 people visit the temple grounds in the city of Freiberg. They want to know what we believe. We would like to tell them that we believe in honoring and obeying and sustaining the law of the land. We would like to explain our desire to achieve strong family units. These are but two of our beliefs. We cannot answer questions, and we cannot convey our feelings, because we have no missionary representatives here as we do in other countries. The young men and young women whom we would like to have come to your country as missionary representatives would love your nation and your people. More particularly, they would leave an influence with your people which would be ennobling. Then we would like to see young men and young women from your nation who are members of our Church serve as missionary representatives in many nations, such as in America, in Canada, and in a host of others. They will return better prepared to assume positions of responsibility in your land.”
Chairman Honecker then spoke for perhaps thirty minutes, describing his objectives and viewpoints and detailing the progress made by his nation. At length, he smiled and addressed me and the group, saying, “We know you. We trust you. We have had experience with you. Your missionary request is approved.”
My spirit literally soared out of the room. The meeting was concluded. As we left the beautiful government chambers, Elder Russell Nelson turned to me and said, “Notice how the sunshine is penetrating this hall. It’s almost as though our Heavenly Father is saying, ‘I am pleased.’ ”
Thomas S. Monson, “Thanks Be to God,” Ensign, May 1989, 50
Mormons in Poland
An example of such service was the missionary experience of Juliusz and Dorothy Fussek, who were called to fill a two-year mission in Poland. Brother Fussek was born in Poland. He spoke the language. He loved the people. Sister Fussek was English and knew little of Poland and its people.
Trusting in the Lord, they embarked on their assignment. The living conditions were primitive, the work lonely, their task immense. A mission had not at that time been established in Poland. The assignment given the Fusseks was to prepare the way, that a mission could be established so that other missionaries could be called to serve, people could be taught, converts could be baptized, branches could be established, and chapels could be erected.
Did Elder and Sister Fussek despair because of the enormity of their assignment? Not for a moment. They knew their calling was from God. They prayed for His divine help, and they devoted themselves wholeheartedly to their work. They remained in Poland not two years but five years. All of the foregoing objectives were realized.
Elders Russell M. Nelson, Hans B. Ringger, and I, accompanied by Elder Fussek, met with Minister Adam Wopatka of the Polish government, and we heard him say, “Your church is welcome here. You may build your buildings; you may send your missionaries. You are welcome in Poland. This man,” pointing to Juliusz Fussek, “has served your church well. You can be grateful for his example and his work.”
Thomas S. Monson, “To Learn, to Do, to Be,” Liahona, Nov 2008, 60–62, 67–68
Mormons in Czechoslovakia
Brother Snederfler has always been willing to stand up for the gospel. When the Church wanted the Czechoslovakian government to again recognize it officially, the Communist leaders told us, “Don’t send an American or any other foreigner. Send a citizen of Czechoslovakia.” That was frightening because to admit then that you were a leader of any church meant that you might be in danger!
Brother Snederfler was the one chosen to go to his government. He later told me that he had asked for the prayers of the branch members. Then he went to Olga and said, “I love you. I don’t know when—or if—I’ll be back. But I love the gospel, and I must follow my Savior.” With that spirit of faith and devotion, he went to his government leaders and told them that he was the leader of the Church there and that he wanted them to again recognize it officially.
Meanwhile, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles had been working very hard to get the needed approval. It came: “Your church is again recognized in Czechoslovakia.”
Brother Snederfler eagerly went to tell Olga and the other stalwart members of the Church there that once again missionaries could come to their country and that they could again worship Heavenly Father in freedom. It was a happy day.
Thomas S. Monson, “Come Listen to a Prophet’s Voice: Influence of the Temple,” Liahona, Aug 2002, 2–3