To Every Nation, Kindred, Tongue, and People: The Divine Will Speak

May 16, 2024 by S. R. Watts

For years, it’s been hard for me to imagine how anyone could change for the better, especially when so many people in my own life have relatively been the same for as long as I can remember them. It’s even harder for me to imagine how entire cultures could evolve into something more ideal, especially ones so set in the traditions of their ancestors. One such culture that I have thought about in this regard was the nation of Thailand where, for centuries, the people and their leaders have held fast to customs that were so rigged that even the most minor of transgressions could lead to long prison sentences—or worse.

I remember hearing about some of these minor transgressions—criticizing the government, disrespecting the Budda, speaking lightly of the royal family—and wondering how anyone could function in a country with such strict laws. It was so foreign to how my own country, the United States of America, permits its citizens to behave on a daily basis. A country heavily influenced by Judeo-Christian values, it made the U.S. the antithesis of countries like Thailand. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that things such as religion and belief play a major role in how a country develops. And the more I heard about the news coming out of Thailand from social media, the more I realized that concepts such as forgiveness and mercy were teachings of Christ that never permeated the nation of Thailand, leading me to wonder if the nation would ever change—or were the people too set in their ways?

Then, one day back in 2019, I was sitting in church listening to a talk from one of the high council members. He recounted an experience he had with a young man who immigrated from Thailand to study engineering in the U.S., and how he came to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with the young man while he was renting the room in his house. I remember the speaker saying how the young man had thought that the church’s teachings on forgiveness and salvation were strange as he recounted how he once got into trouble while in military service and received a harsh punishment for something he supposedly did wrong. Nevertheless, the speaker told the congregation that the young man came to accept the Gospel and was baptized within a few months of receiving his first lessons from the missionaries. 

While the story could have ended there, I was surprised to hear the high councilman go on to say that, shortly after being baptized, the young man had decided to return home to his native Thailand where he planned to share the gospel with everyone who would listen. He even said he would seek out the military officer who had punished him and offer him his forgiveness for the harsh treatment he had received while in the service. The speaker then concluded his story by saying that, within a year of his return to Thailand, the young man had sent him a letter saying that his act of forgiveness had made a major impact on the military officer, leading him to take the missionary lessons and be baptized into the church. Long after the speaker closed his talk with his personal testimony on the importance of missionary work, I have thought about that story a lot and came to the realization that that young man may have very well started a ripple effect in his country that will have long-lasting consequences for everyone living there. It led me to wonder if an entire country could indeed change for the better due to the influence of teachings that come from truly divine sources. 

As I grow older and gain more experiences, I’m realizing more and more just how little I will ever come to know in this life. The mysteries of the Divine are far too great to ever discern in a single lifetime, and their ways are not man’s ways. They know how to touch the hearts of every human soul; I just have to trust that They have a plan for every one of their children and will declare the work of salvation to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people in ways that will confound the wise and the learned. I just hope that I can be an instrument in Their hands to bring as many people as possible back into their presence.