So I'm giving a talk in sacrament meeting in ten hours and 7 minutes, so enjoy my talk on the Stripling warriors!
Good morning brothers and sisters. For those of you that don’t know me, my name is James Daniel. I’m 18 years old, I grew up in Provo, Utah, but I’ve lived in California twice, Colorado, and Indiana. Most people, who know me, know that I have two loves: Baseball and piano. I’ve been playing and watching baseball for about 8 years, and I’ve been playing the piano for even longer. There are 142 days until my mission papers can be sent into Salt Lake and 268 days until my 19th birthday, so I’m pretty excited to serve a mission. I am currently a political science major at Weber State University, and that’s about it for me.
My purpose today is to speak to you about the 2,000 stripling warriors, and the lessons that we can learn from studying about them. Growing up in primary I had two favorite scripture stories. First was the story of Ammon chopping off all the Lamanite robber’s arms, and let’s face it, what ten old boy isn’t going to love a story about arms being chopped off. Second was the story of Helaman’s 2,000 stripling warriors. Reading about them in the 53rd and 56th chapter of Alma is always a delight, and I am very excited to discuss the wonderful lessons we learn from these fine young men.
About 90 years before the coming of Christ, the Ammonite people, converted by Ammon, made a wonderful covenant with the Lord to bury their weapons of war deep in the Earth. They covenanted that “they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did, vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands.”
About 26 years later, the war between the Nephites and Lamanites pressured the Ammonites to break their covenant, and to fight to protect their families and religion. They saw the sacrifice that the Nephites were making for them, and they were “desirous to take up arms in the defence of their country.” A man named Helaman prevented these men from breaking their covenant, and in the process saved their souls. In 53rd chapter of Alma, we read of the sons of the Ammonites, who did not make a covenant with the Lord. In defense of their people, they take up arms, and Helaman takes command of these 2,000 sons of the Ammonites. To make a long story short, the stripling warriors are involved in multiple battles, and to Helaman’s astonishment, none of the 2,000 warriors died.
From the stripling warrior’s mighty example, we can learn of many very important lessons, however I would like to focus on 3. The first is faith. When the stripling warriors went into battle, they had no battle experience at all. They had never as much as picked up a weapon, and yet they had no fear when they went into battle against the Lamanites. They knew that if they did not doubt that God would deliver them and keep them safe. Alma 56: 47 says, “Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives.” Like the Stripling warriors, what aspects of our lives can we go into with no fear? For me, it was moving away from home. I’m 18 years old. I was scared to death to move away for the first time away from my family. My first two weeks here in Ogden were miserable, and I had no idea what to do. I missed my family terribly; I still hadn’t made a whole lot of new friends. I was figuratively in my own personal war against an army of Lamanites. Fear is a big part of everybody’s life, but the thing that destroys fear and gives you hope is faith. When you exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, you can conquer entire legions of Lamanite armies. Eventually, I exercised faith and I was able to make friends, and the homesickness and fear dissolved into strength and courage. I know that using faith is easier said than done, but in Alma 56:56, we get to see the results of when the stripling warriors used their faith. Helaman says, “But behold, to my great joy there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war.” Not only did none of the Stripling warriors perish, but they scared the Lamanites so much, that they surrendered! And they had never fought before! I imagine looking upon an army of Lamanite soldiers can be quite an intimidating thing, and yet they did not fear. Similar in our life, when we see figurative Lamanite armies and we do not fear, we can do the same things that the stripling warriors did, we will fight against our opposition with mighty power, and eventually we will scare it off. Our fears become scared of us.
The second lesson that we can learn, is obeying the words of our parents. Alma 56:47-48 says, “Yea, they had been taught by their mothers that if they did not doubt, god would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.” The Family A Proclamation To The World says, “Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live” Parent’s roles are so very important in children’s lives. We can see the effects of righteous parents with the stripling warriors. Their mothers helped them develop such incredible faith, that they conquered multiple armies of the Lamanites. That means that today our parents can do a similar thing. I don’t believe I could have conquered my fear of moving out to Ogden, without the faith and courage that my parents taught me. What an awesome responsibility we will have when we become parents. We will have the ability to teach our children how to conquer any problem, and how to use and exercise faith. And after we teach them faith, they can bring forth mighty miracles.
The third lesson that we learn, is that of good missionary attributes. Alma 53:20-21 lists many attributes that described the stripling warriors that can help us become good missionaries. They were exceedingly valiant for courage; they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted. They were men of truth and soberness. They kept the commandments of God and walked uprightly before him. Elder Ballard in a Liahona article said, “While we are profoundly grateful for the many members of the Church who are doing great things in the battle for truth and right, I must honestly tell you it still is not enough. We need much more help. And so, as the people of Ammon looked to their sons for reinforcement in the war against the Lamanites, we look to you, my young brethren and sisters of the Church. We need you. Like Helaman’s 2,000 stripling warriors, you also are the spirit sons and daughters of God, and you too can be endowed with power to build up and defend His kingdom. We need you to make sacred covenants, just as they did. We need you to be meticulously obedient and faithful, just as they were…What we need now is the greatest generation of missionaries in the history of the Church. We need worthy, qualified, spiritually energized missionaries who, like Helaman’s 2,000 stripling warriors, are “exceedingly valiant for courage and also for strength and activity” and who are “true at all times in whatsoever thing they [are] entrusted” (Alma 53:20).
Listen to those words, my young brethren and sisters: valiant, courage, strength, active, true. We don’t need spiritually weak and semicommitted young men and woman. We don’t need you to just fill a position; we need your whole heart and soul. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate missionaries who know how to listen to and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t a time for spiritual weaklings. We cannot send you on a mission to be reactivated, reformed, or to receive a testimony. We just don’t have time for that. We need you to be filled with “faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God” (D&C 4:5).”
Although we have no record of the stripling warriors serving full time missions, their example can help everybody be better missionaries, even if you are not officially called as a full-time missionary. It will help those brothers and sisters serving full time missions, but it will also help those who do not go on missions, and those who have returned from serving missions. Those who have returned from serving missions, your work is not yet done. When living by these attributes, you can be such an example to those who are not of our faith, and serve all of God’s children. These attributes can also apply to magnifying your calling. If everybody were to serve in their callings with these kinds of attributes, can you imagine how our church would be? Can you imagine the kind of missionaries that the church could produce, if all the young men in our church lived by these qualities?
The stripling warriors are an incredible group of young men, from whom we can and have learned many valuable lessons. Their tale is incredible, and the lessons we learn from them are priceless. There is a very important reason why Moroni included their story in the Book of Mormon, and we cannot ignore the multiple lessons we learn from them. I touched on just a few, the more you read of their account, the more lessons you will learn.
I know that this church is true. It cannot be false. I know that Joseph Smith, did see the Father and the son in the Sacred Grove. I know that the Book of Mormon was translated by the power of God, and that is God's word to us on the Earth today. I know that Jesus is the Christ, and that he did atone for all of my sins, and all of your sins. I know that President Monson is God's prophet on the Earth today, and that he receives God's will for his children today. In this I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.