I heard a COOL story in Relief Society. Julie Jackson was teaching a lesson about accepting ourselves and moving forward with faith in Christ.
Julie’s husband worked for about 8 years at the Missionary Training Center for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the Provo UT campus. He was in charge of the Referral Center where new missionaries used to go for an hour three or four times during their training to answer calls that result from media advertising.
One day, Brother Jackson noticed a new missionary that seemed distressed by the expectation that missionaries respond to phone calls. He pulled him aside and asked him what was bothering him. The young man responded, “I’m a horrible missionary. I just can’t do this.”
“Why do you think you’re a horrible missionary?”
“I have never shared the Gospel. My close friend all through high school was not a member of this church, (in a predominantly LDS community) and I never once talked to him about religion or shared my beliefs. The only thing I did was give him a pass-along card right before I left on my mission.”
A pass-along card is a little picture of Christ that offers a phone number for a free Bible, Book of Mormon or visit from the missionaries on the back.
“Just give it a try. Giving the pass-along card was a good thing. You can do it.”
But the young elder was still frozen in fear by the time the session was up.
Brother Jackson noticed him again the next week. He was still showing signs of distress, so again, he encouraged him and assured him that all he needed to do was respond to the requests made by the callers.
But the coordinator was pulled away by another missionary needing attention. He watched out of the corner of his eye as the doubtful elder sat down in front of one of about a hundred phones. A computer receives the calls and assigns each one to a station. During peak seasons, mainly around the holidays, the call center receives thousands of calls each day.
At that time, missionaries learning foreign languages would visit the referral center 3-5 times for an hour, during their ten-week stay. Their schedules varied, according to the space and class schedule.
Brother Jackson watched as a call came to the anxious missionary’s station. The young man fumbled with the equipment but Brother Jackson couldn’t pull himself away from what he was doing in another part of the room to help.
But the missionary quickly relaxed. He seemed to be enjoying the conversation. He was smiling! The conversation lasted much longer than was usual.
Later, Brother Jackson went over to the missionary. “The call seemed to go well.”
“Yeah, it was great.”
“So what changed? You were so nervous.”
“You’ll never believe who it was on the call.”
“Who was it?”
“My friend that I gave the pass-along card to.”
How do you define a miracle? Of the one hundred phones, for the twelve hours each day that the phones were operating, with the thousand or so missionaries visiting the referral center each week, and the number of callers on any given day, with a computer randomly assigning the phone lines the odds of one caller speaking to his friend as a result of one pass-along card are so extremely low as to call it impossible.
But our loving Heavenly Father knew that his one anxious son needed to talk to his friend. The caller is also His well-loved son and God cares nothing for odds. He always blesses his children in the best way he can. We only need to unlatch the windows of Heaven by acting on promptings or taking tiny steps of obedience toward His loving, outstretched arms.