Softening Hearts

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In chapters 17-22, we see Ammon and the sons of Mosiah heading over to the land of the Lamanites to teach them the gospel. We see the conversion of many, including kings. Who were the Lamanites? Who were these people that Ammon and the sons of Mosiah wanted to teach about Jesus Christ?

Alma 17:14 And assuredly it was great, for they had undertaken to preach the word of God to a wild and a hardened and a ferocious people; a people who delighted in murdering the Nephites, and robbing and plundering them; and their hearts were set upon riches, or upon gold and silver, and precious stones; yet they sought to obtain these things by murdering and plundering, that they might not labor for them with their own hands.

Not exactly my first choice for someone I want to share the gospel with. So if that’s what these brothers started with, how did they get to the point where even the kings were converting to the Lord? 

In Alma 17:20, we learn that whenever Lamanites caught a Nephite, they bound him and took him before the king who could then decide if he wanted to kill them, imprison them indefinitely, or cast them out of the land. Ammon shows up in King Lamoni’s land, and he is taken and bound. Here’s the conversation between Ammon and the king. 

Alma 17:22-25

22 And the king inquired of Ammon if it were his desire to dwell in the land among the Lamanites, or among his people.

23 And Ammon said unto him: Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die.

24 And it came to pass that king Lamoni was much pleased with Ammon, and caused that his bands should be loosed; and he would that Ammon should take one of his daughters to wife.

Big turn around there. Ammon, I’m not going to kill you or imprison you; I want you to marry one of my daughters. I remember being a kid and thinking, why wouldn’t Ammon marry one of the daughters? Doesn’t that put him in a better position to teach the king?

You would think so, but no. There’s a principle that gets taught here. Ammon chooses to become his servant and does a really good job of it. You could almost say his service is…disarming.

But really, Lamoni is completely taken aback by Ammon so much so that he pauses long enough to hear Ammon out.

So how did Ammon get bloodthirsty people to listen? If you didn’t catch it, let’s look at a more obvious example.

King Lamoni has now converted to the Lord, and they start to make their way over to Middoni where Ammon’s brethren are imprisoned. They run into Lamoni’s father who is the king over everyone in the land. Surprise. Lamoni’s father wants Lamoni to kill Ammon. One thing leads to another and the king is overpowered by Ammon and becomes very afraid and pleads for his life. Ammon asks for his brethren to be cast out of prison and for Lamoni to retain his kingdom. This is how Lamoni’s father responds.

Alma 20:26 And when he saw that Ammon had no desire to destroy him, and when he also saw the great love he had for his son Lamoni, he was astonished exceedingly…

Fast forward a little bit. Ammon’s brother, Aaron, has come to Lamoni’s father. Aaron asks to be the king’s servant, and the king responds in Alma 22:3.

Alma 22:3…And the king said unto them: Arise, for I will grant unto you your lives, and I will not suffer that ye shall be my servants; but I will insist that ye shall administer unto me; for I have been somewhat troubled in mind because of the generosity and the greatness of the words of thy brother Ammon; and I desire to know the cause why he has not come up out of Middoni with thee.

Troubled in mind because of the generosity. How do we get people to listen to us? It is by the way we live. Ammon could have married Lamoni’s daughter and tried to preach to him but what really caught Lamoni’s attention was the service Ammon performed for him. Lamoni’s father went from wanting to kill Ammon to wanting the gospel preached because of Ammon’s generosity. 

Our service and our examples have to come before our preaching. Now this is a principle that we are all very familiar with and so it seems redundant to repeat it, but what does it really look like in our day?

Perhaps it looks like this. When your spouse asks your child to grab something for them and your child moans and complains, consider jumping up to grab it for your spouse rather than giving a lecture or a stern eye.

Maybe it looks like giving your friend space to breathe when they struggle with a specific aspect of the church. Every situation is different but unless you feel overwhelmingly prompted to preach, listen to them and leave it at that. Ammon waited for an hour of silence before the king before he started saying anything about the gospel. Give your family and friends time if they’re trying to come to terms with something they struggle with. 

Maybe it looks like believing that your child can be a really good person even if they’ve left the church. Belonging to the church and being a good person is not mutually exclusive; believe that they are still good because they probably are.

There are so many ways to soften hearts to prepare them for the gospel, not the least of which is simply being patient. In fact, before Ammon or the sons of Mosiah make it to the Lamanites, the Lord tells them in Alma 17:11…yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.

Be patient and be a good example. If you want your child to happily serve their family, make sure you’re not complaining when you serve your family. If you want your child to listen to you, listen to them. Giving a generous and good example is the fastest way to introduce Christ to someone you love.

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