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PAUL PANIAGUA
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The Ideal Rescuer
By Paul Paniagua

“And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? …My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. …As I live, saith the Lord God, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock; I will require my flock at their hand” (Ezek. 34:1–2, 6, 8, 10).
Elder Mervin B. Arnold stated in relation to Ezekiel’s warning, "The Lord has always required that those He entrusts with His holy priesthood, including fathers, quorum leaders, and quorum members, be held accountable for His flocks. Brethren, we must search and seek out our flocks, and we must not allow our flocks to become “meat to every beast of the field.” Therefore, we must respond appropriately and with a sense of urgency.
Recently, I heard Elder Acosta, our Area Authority, share some statistics related to our youth. According to Elder Acosta only 18% of our Single Young Adults attend sacrament meeting regularly. Later that week, our Area Director of seminaries and institutes informed us that only about 2 percent of single young adults attend institute programs. I was shocked to hear these statistics and I asked myself, “What needs to be done?” I am reminded of the Savior’s parable about the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. In contemplation of these parables I wonder to myself, what kind of a man is required to rescue the Lord’s children from becoming prey? Who is capable? It became clear to me that an “ideal rescuer” is needed to bring our lost sheep back to the fold as we cannot let our church members, students, new converts and young members of the church “be meat to every beast of the field.”(Ezek. 34:-2,6, 8,10)
Who and what is an ideal rescuer? He is a shepherd. The Savior himself was a shepherd. He is one who knew his sheep by name. This type of person is willing to climb up hills and mountains in search of his sheep and walk through deserts and valleys to find them. It is an individual who is more like Christ; an individual who is willing to lay down his/her life for their friends. It is an individual who emulates the Savior’s life and lives his teachings. The ideal rescuer is willing to pay any price and risk it all to bring the sheep to safety. These people are teachers, bishops, relief society presidents, counsellors, fathers, mothers, students, friends or anyone who is willing to make sacrifices for the benefit of others. Just yesterday, I watched a documentary about Ansar Burney a human rights attorney responsible for banning child slavery that is child camel race jockeys in the Middle East. Ansar not only rescued thousands of children from exploitation from the UAE, but inspired many other countries to do the same. As a result, thousands of children were saved in the Middle East where this practice was destroying families. Ansar Burney understood the risks he was taking, but let nothing interfere with his righteous desires to do good. He rejoiced when thousands of these children were freed from slavery and abuse despite the troubling process and the risks he took to expose such business enterprises. An ideal rescuer knows that there are devastating consequences for inaction but is willing to give it their best to change the world and community and bless mankind.
An ideal rescuer is someone who forgets himself/herself and completely leaves their comfort zone to seek out those who have lost their way in life’s journey. He is a loving person whose focus is on those who need to be helped. A person who has learned to see others through the Lord’s eyes.
The ideal rescuers are good listeners. They are people who are willing to hear and spend time with those who need rescuing. They do not talk all the time; in fact, they spend more time listening than ever talking. They act upon the impressions of the spirit. They know that listening is key to understanding and uncovering why people are not among us. Not long ago a good friend who served as a stake leader shared an experience that illustrates this. He went to visit a less active member with a general authority prior to a stake conference. He shared his story as they visited this sister. The sister was asked why she stopped coming to church. She said she felt offended when she felt ignored by a stake leader. The stake leader was not aware of the reason nor what roll he had played in all this but as soon as he heard her, he apologized and said he had no idea he had done that. He begged her to please forgive him. He said that he never meant that to happened and that he sometimes was distracted about things he needed to do. The sister accepted his apology and went to conference the following day after having been less active in church for some time. The ideal rescuer takes responsibility and is willing to make corrections for the good of all.
The ideal rescuer also knows that if a member cannot come to church or institute class because of other priorities, that in his mind, he will not excuse them for not participating. The rescuer will find the time to teach that student even if the rescuer needs to create a new institute class for them. Incidentally, just yesterday,after a month of school, I finally was able to make contact with a student who completed a class the previous semester, but had not registered this semester. I attempted to reach out to him in various ways until I finally made contact. He said that work and school had made it impossible to participate in church and institute. After talking, we arranged for a class at the only time he could come. The ideal rescuers are accommodating.
The ideal rescuers do not tolerate empty chairs. When the rescuers see and empty chair in their classrooms, they feel devastated. All the rescuers want is for their students in class to be nourished by the good word. This type of person cannot rest until he/she sees the missing student’s face and looks at that student’s eyes. They need to know that their are ok. They focus on attendance reports and records. They understand the difficulty of bringing students back to class once lost. They are vigilant.
The ideal rescuers are people of great faith. He/she are sincere, honest and have a surprising child-like faith that is exercised continuously. They do not second guess the impact the gospel has upon people nor their own efforts. They know Christ is at the helm; and therefore, there is no fear, no doubt and no hesitation in their work. They know God will magnify their efforts and know God will not let the work come to naught. The rescuers do not lose sight of what matters the most: The lost sheep. They know their students by name. They know their likes and dislikes. They are familiar with their lives and challenges. The ideal rescuers have visited their homes, met their parents, and worked with them to nourish and bless their lives. They are involved in preparing them to serve missions, enter the temple to receive their endowments and to marry and gain degrees from college.
The ideal rescuers are familiar with every program the church has to help them see their student’s potential. They are familiar with programs such as MIS, Wise, Dynamics, Recently Returned Missionary Report, etc.. and they are experts in their usage. They keep a log of the people they contact and write notes in the program to remind themselves and others to follow up on their progress. They are engaged with the students who have left on missions by writing monthly. They keeps in contact with them and wait patiently for their return. They know their job is never finished.
The ideal rescuers are engaged every week in enrolling and helping students complete. He/she accomplishes this by 1) Personal Contact: Actively reaching out to students individually, “one by one” as directed by the spirit. 2) Mobilize: Helping others reach out to students one by one “in such a way” that efforts are multiplied. 3) Measure: Monitor & Share weekly progress to “render an account” & increase success.
The ideal rescuers do not give up, even after many rejected invites to come back to church or class. This person cannot and will not give up an inch in the battle for the souls of man. The ideal rescuers stand their ground and do not go down to the valley of death because they know they must stay on higher ground. However, they are always extending their hand to help people reach higher. They are always inviting the one, always recruiting students, and always inviting them to come. In the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley, “he is never short in love and also never strong in criticism”. They know that the worth of souls is precious in the sight of God. They know that the word of God will help students and people find answers to their problems, gain an eternal perspective and find Christ in their lives. Even if one of their own children like Lehi’s, won’t come, they keep inviting them. Rescuers know that sooner or later just like Enos and Alma the younger their words will sink deep into their hearts. The rescuers know that as they strive to serve the Lord, the love of Christ will reach them as tentacles to bring them back to the Savior. The ideal rescuers never surrender but keep marching onward.
The ideal rescuers know that their students need spiritual nourishment. They know they cannot survive without the saving power of the word of God and the Lord’s saving ordinances. They know the Holy Ghost is the real teacher and will be there to edify them if they are in class. They know their students need to develop confidence in the word of God so they trust the scriptures. They help their students love and rely on the scriptures. They help them utilize the 100 scriptures memorized in seminary in their daily lives and help them deepen their understanding of the word. They learn to make the scriptures real as they find principles and study doctrines. The s ruptures come alive as they study them together.
The ideal rescuers know what their mission is: to build an allegiance to God. They know they are an instrument in the hands of God and not of themselves. They are dependent upon the Lord. The Lord is their anchor and their inspiration. They listen to the promptings of the spirit and seeks for priesthood insight and direction as they strive to make a difference in their lives. Ultimately, rescuers know they are on a errand for the Lord.
The rescuers are close to Heavenly Father. They pray and fast often to strengthen their relationship with father and to know his will. They speak often to him and understand his doctrine and the plan of happiness with ease. They embrace the gospel fully, without hesitation. They know what the atonement of our savior has doThey are and what it will do for them. They not embarrassed of the gospel and are always willing to share Christ’s doctrine and personal experiences with others. They are people with a vibrant and profound testimony. They strive to help their student have a relationship with Heavenly Father and a powerful testimony. They constantly invite their students to develop faith through prayer.
The ideal rescue does not procrastinate. They take initiative and are not slothful. They need things to be done today, there is no tomorrow for them. They understand that what is done today will strengthen what they do tomorrow. There is no place for tomorrow in the rescuer’s quest. There is no storm, no hurricane that will delay or impair the rescuers efforts. They know there is no time to spend days and weeks planning and talking about a problem that need to be address immediately. They know they cannot give an inch, or the slightest advantage to Satan because he will use it to take the lead and gain control of the battle. Not long ago, I learned of a man who was released from a calling. He made a great difference in his assignment, but became really concerned after seeing that after his released 4 months had passed by without having anyone appointed in his previous position. He was worried about losing ground and conceding the battle. He then reached out to the priesthood and mentioned it so that it be corrected. It was.
The ideal recruiters are goal oriented and good time managers. Their daily task are gear to achieving short, intermediate and log range goals and objectives. They commit their energy an effort till the work is done.
The ideal rescuers know that students will respond differently to an invitation. Sometimes they will listen immediately but other times, it might take them months, or years. The idea rescuers are genuine friends. They never give up on them. Patience is their virtue. There is no lost cause and there is no hopeless cause in their mind. The rescuers are patient and wait upon the Lord. The Lord has a way to come through when an acceptable offering has been made. They know this. Just yesterday, a student came into my class after 1 year of trying to get him to come. It wasn’t an easy process. I remember I was chatting on Facebook with his mother who lives in Mexico. I was their Bishop 16 years ago when this boy was 2 years old. I explained to her how I had tried almost everything to get him to come to class. After that, almost every week she would send me an email asking if he had come to class. I don’t know what happened but after 6 months of mom being in the loop, he walked into my class. A few days later we had BBQ in our house. He did not only come to our house but sang to us all.
The ideal rescuers work under the direction of the priesthood and exercise great faith in the keys of the priesthood. The rescuers are willing to council together and align with priesthood direction. They know that the priesthood will always bless the effort. In fact, they know that without priesthood leader involvement nothing will work out. There will be a power added to the work as leaders learn to follow priesthood direction. They know that whatever the priesthood touches will bloom. They thrive to be part of the team by identifying, contacting, enrolling and monitoring the progress of each student. They work together in council with priesthood leaders to organized a functional educational committee at the stake and ward level to coordinate the work and give more exposure to the program in the stake as they speak of seminary and institute.
They are not shy to be a voice in the desert as they present seminary and institute programs and speak for the board of education for the church. They are always willing to speak to wards, stakes, studnets and parents.
The ideal rescuer will make sure that even those who are new in the gospel are given a responsibility, have a friend and are nurtured by the word of God. They strive to make them feel loved,and welcomed so that they never feel alone. The ideal rescuers will give them assignments in class and will take them by the hand until they are ready to walk on their own. The rescuers will not abandon his sheep.
The ideal rescuer makes time every day to invite one and to reach out to the lost sheep. They are totally dedicated to the rescue. They conclude that whatever time they spend in the rescue of souls will bring strength and temporal and spiritual blessing in their personal life and the student’s family. They know why they do this. It is not because they want something in return or a blessing or reward but because they love God. Their motive are pure.
The ideal rescuer are very positive. They are happy. They never see a half empty glass of water. For them the glass of water it is always half full. They do not let their circumstances define their joy nor their lives. Their attitude
is contagious and electrifying. They are not looking to quit but to build and strengthen relationships. They know they are in the wining team. They want to involve everyone in the work because they know that there is strength in numbers. They are team workers. They do not demean the team nor want the credit for themselves; they want everyone to have ownership and rejoice together. If anyone falls short in the effort, they are there to “lift and inspire, to succor the weak and lift up the hands which hang down and strengthen the feeble knees” (D&C 81:5). The rescuers know that unity of purpose brings results. They know that their role is not only to strengthen the individual but also to bless their family.
The ideal rescuers love what they do. They are compassionate, love their students and are willing to go anywhere to rescue them. They can’t help themselves. They see all people as precious children of God not matter what their social status, race or time as a members of the church has been. The ideal rescuers are an image of the Shepard. It is a person who possesses many Godly attributes. It is an individual whose image of Christ becomes engraved in their countenance and as president Packer once said he is them and them is he.
The ideal rescuers are not afraid to do more or to raise their sight, exercise faith and adjust their plan to achieve results. They are never discouraged. They constantly strive to reach out and strengthen feeble knees. They know what their mission is and know how to succor the people. They do not get lost in administration. They are ministers.
The ideal rescuers know we all come short but have faith that their efforts will be magnified by the Lord. What type of man we ought to be asked a Nephite once, only to learn that we ought to be “even as the Lord is.” The rescuers know that people will be touched by their effort and that those who lift where they stand as President Utchdorf once said, will see the hand and face of the lord. We are called to move mountains as we invite, share and testify of God’s plan and of his love for his children. Mountain must be moved. What kind of a rescuers of souls are we ought to be? , even as the Lord is.
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 CARTA DESDE EL CAMPO MISIONAL EN PROVO UTAH, CENTRO DE CAPACITACION MISIONAL HEY MOM!!!!!!!! I SENT YOU LIKE A MILLION LETTERS. I HOPE YOU GOT THEM. WELL ITS FINALLY PDAY. I FEEL LIKE IVE BEEN AT THE MTC FOR WEEKS. ITS SO AMAZING HERE THOUGH. IM LEARNING S...
Michelle"s Mission in South Dakota
Michelle"s Mission in South Dakota
sistermichellepaniagua.blogspot.com
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Michelle"s Mission in South Dakota
Michelle"s Mission in South Dakota
sistermichellepaniagua.blogspot.com
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Día de su despedida y discurso en el Barrio de Jóvenes Adultos Solteros. Con su familia,  tíos, abuelita, amigos y obispo.
Michelle"s Mission in South Dakota
Michelle"s Mission in South Dakota
sistermichellepaniagua.blogspot.com
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Michelle in her favorite restaurant Olive Garden with Dad and Mom and Grandma after going to the Temple.. She loves food and more importantly to eat.....Now that she is on the Mission she is going to miss restaurants and start to eat Kellog's corn Flakes an...
Michelle"s Mission in South Dakota
Michelle"s Mission in South Dakota
sistermichellepaniagua.blogspot.com
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At the Newport Beach Temple with Mom and Grandma..
Michelle"s Mission in South Dakota
Michelle"s Mission in South Dakota
sistermichellepaniagua.blogspot.com
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Flautas Don Pablo Saturday 4-6 pm at the house.
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FLAUTAS DON PABLO

RECAUDANDO FONDOS PARA LA MISION DE MICHELLE Y COMPAMENTOS DE VERANO EN LA IGLESIA
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