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On the island of Madagascar grows the Baobab tree. As trees go, this species wouldn’t win any beauty contests. In fact, it looks rather like a drawing from a Dr. Seuss story book. But the Baobab tree has a beautiful secret. In the darkness of night, within the high canopy of leaves, foot long “pods” open and begin curling back, revealing stunning fuchsia and lemon yellow flowers. Sugary nectar oozes from the blooms, trickling over the colorful petals. Only a few creatures know the secret, and they come eagerly to the tree. The hawk moth sips at the nectar while the tiny mouse lemur licks the sweetness from the petals. As the moths and lemurs partake, they are dusted with pollen, so as they move from flower to flower and tree to tree, they become pollinators, facilitating the blooming of more flowers.

As women of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we too have a beautiful secret. We know that the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and its ordinances and authority are on the earth today. We have access to the Tree of Life. We have partaken of its fruit which is “sweet above all that is sweet.” (Alma 32:42) But this tree and its fruit were never meant to be kept secret, and the Savior asks all who have tasted the sweetness to go forward and spread it to others. Sisters, arise!

President Russell M. Nelson recently spoke of President Spencer W. Kimball’s 1979 prophecy about “the [powerful] impact covenant-keeping women would have on the future of the Lord’s church.” Pres. Nelson then declared, “My dear Sisters…the day that President Kimball foresaw is today. You are the women he foresaw!” (1)

Would you like to participate in fulfilling a powerful prophecy? How is it to be done? President Nelson was very specific in stating what is needed:

  • women who know how to make important things happen by their faith and who are courageous defenders of morality and families in a sin-sick world
  • women who are devoted to shepherding God’s children along the covenant path toward exaltation
  • women who know how to receive personal revelation, who understand the power and peace of the temple endowment
  • women who know how to call upon the powers of heaven and protect and strengthen children and families
  • women who teach fearlessly
  • women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation
  • women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity (2)

According to President Kimball, the women of the church must be seen as distinct and different. Could a stranger discern, just by observing our appearance and actions that we are women of covenant? If not, why not? The number of ways a woman can embrace the world, and her ease of access to worldly things, has increased exponentially in recent years with the advent of the internet. No longer are worldly attitudes and images found only outside of the home. To a startling degree it seems that the world has come to us—slipping through cyberspace into our homes, our hands, and our minds.

Sisters, arise! Can we be honest enough—mature enough—to admit that certain behaviors and ways of dressing and adorning ourselves mark us clearly as followers of the world and not of Jesus Christ? If we are not true followers of the Savior we can never hope to effectively share His message.

Sister Sheri L. Dew claims, “it isn’t possible not to have influence.”(3) So what kind of influence will we choose to have? How will we share our beautiful secret? Our voices must be strong but never shrill, for the moment we engage in a contentious exchange of opinions, our power to influence for good evaporates.

For a natural introvert it is easy to shy away from phrases such as “step forward” or “let your voice be heard.” But as our world drifts away from Christian values and openly mocks the doctrine of Christ, we don’t have the luxury of watching from the sidelines, assuming others will step up to answer the call of the prophets. Sisters, arise!

We overcome our fear of stepping forward—our lack of confidence due to our weaknesses–by applying one of the great lessons of the Book of Mormon. Every time the Nephites went forth to battle “in the strength of the Lord” (Alma 46:20) they were victorious. Every single time. Even when the enemy out-numbered them by twenty thousand men. All that mattered was that the Nephites went forth with the Lord at their head. We too can invite the Lord to go with us, giving us courage to share His beautiful secret within our sphere of influence.

Elder Gregory A. Scwhitzer has said, “When we as members make the decision to stand up and powerfully witness for God’s doctrine and His Church, something changes within us. We take His countenance upon us. We become closer to His Spirit. He in turn will go before us and be on “[our] right hand and on [our] left, and [His] Spirit shall be in [our] hearts, and [His] angels round about [us], to bear [us] up.” (4)

If we ever think the influence of one person is negligible, we need look no further than the story of Amalickiah and Captain Moroni. Amalickiah was the epitome of evil, disguised as a leader, a flatterer, even a charmer. Through deception and intrigue, this Nephite insinuated himself into the very fabric of Lamanite society—eventually even becoming king. Yet his power-hungry nature was not satisfied, so he determined to conquer the Nephite nation.

Young Captain Moroni, who devoted his life to preserving the liberty of his people, was understandably angry as the actions of Amalickiah threatened to usurp their freedom and peace. Moroni didn’t stand idly by, hoping someone else would fix the problem. He girded on his armor, prayed mightily to his God, and went forth among the people waving his flag—the title of liberty—crying with a loud voice for his people to step forward in the strength of the Lord. What was the Nephite’s response? “The people came running together with their armor girded about their loins…” (See Alma 46:10-21) Oh, how I love that sentence!

In our day, President Nelson and other prophets have “waved the flag” and called the women of the church to action. How will we respond? Let us arm ourselves with righteousness and come running together, stepping boldly forward to stand for truth and lead others to Jesus Christ. Imagine the power and impact of an entire generation of sisters supporting each other in purity, demonstrating that the influence of virtuous women can send ripples of righteousness flowing to every corner of the earth.

SISTERS, ARISE!

Words and Music by Lynne Perry Christofferson
Soloist: Tammy Simister Robinson

In an earlier time, in a long-forgotten place,
as the daughters of God’s light
we were filled with truth and reserved for latter-days
when we would need to shine.
Sisters, arise! Purify your lives,
reflecting what you believe.
Sisters, arise! So others recognize
that the gospel offers them peace.
In this present day, in a dark and troubled world
with the constant call of night,
oh, how great the need for the keepers of the flame
to hold their lamps up high.
Sisters, arise! Purify your lives,
reflecting what you believe.
Sisters, arise! So others recognize
that the gospel offers them peace.
We turn away from worldliness as witnesses for Christ,
manifesting outwardly the light we feel inside.
Sisters, arise! Purify your lives,
reflecting what you believe.
Sisters, arise! So others recognize
that the gospel offers them peace.
With virtuous minds,
and hope in our eyes,
oh my Sisters,
Sisters, arise!

(For more thoughts on this subject, see the author’s new book Sisters, Arise!)

Notes:

  1. Russell M. Nelson, “A Plea to My Sisters,” Ensign, Nov. 2015.
  2. Sheri L. Dew, BYU Women’s Conference, May 1, 2008.
  3. Gregory A. Schwitzer, “Let the Clarion Trumpet Sound,” Ensign, Nov. 2015.

For a free downloadable version of the sheet music or recording of Sisters, Arise! click HERE.

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