Meet the former diplomats who, while on their mission in the Western Cape of South Africa, used the principles of the family proclamation into a city council meeting to dramatically change hearts and minds.
They didn’t want us anywhere near their municipality. With a population of well over 100,000, they still viewed us as a threat. They had heard we were coming, so the municipal council of George, Zambia quickly denied our requests for a place to meet and live. They knew nothing about us, but they were quite sure the “Mormons” (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) were up to no good. They blocked our efforts before we began. It was so frustrating. We decided our best action was to attend a municipal council meeting to observe and learn more about our new community.
Having had experience as diplomats, we went dressed as professional diplomats. We made no comments or demands, just attended and observed. Near the close of the meeting the Commissioner in charge declared he’d been watching us and asked if we were part of the diplomatic school. We answered no, but we’d appreciate a chance to speak to the council. He said it was obvious we were important, so he gave us the floor.
We’d been praying for this moment. But the words we were inspired to say were not directly about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or our mission, they were about families. When we stood to speak, we found ourselves sharing our love of family and the vital importance strong families have in our communities and cities. We testified that defending the family was the most important role these council members could play in their city. Then we told them we’d be happy to visit with each of them in their homes to share with their families the qualities that make up a strong family as taught by Jesus Christ. That was it. We thanked them for their time and suddenly they were all clamoring to make appointments with us.
By the end of the next week we had been warmly welcomed into each of their homes. We’d built friendships and shared the foundational principles of families with each of them. Each family hung on our every word. Each family requested and received suggestions for strengthening their relationships as a family and with God. Each of them invited us back any time. The next week we were stopped on the street by the lead Commissioner. He said, “I want you to know something. I voted adamantly against you having access to our city. But your respect and your focus on strong family values has changed my mind completely. I wish I had never voted the way I had. I’m glad you came anyway.”
Talking about the Family Proclamation in the Public Square
The Boyer’s story in South Africa is a great example of how to thoughtfully engage in family advocacy in communities and governments as found in Paragraph 9 of “The Family: A Proclamation to the World”:
If you are unsure of how talk to others about why strong marriages and families are so important to sustainable, successful societies, this website is the perfect resource. In particular, Paragraph 9 of the proclamation is filled with resources about how to “be not afraid, but speak” (and share) your beliefs about marriage and family in positive ways.
The family proclamation is full of inspired answers to society’s problems and is a firm anchor for individuals and families in a world of shifting values. It’s the ultimate home and family improvement guide for creating, strengthening and healing families. We also hope this site will help everyone more confidently articulate and defend the doctrines and principles of the proclamation.