Who Has Need Of The Physician

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Carlos E. Asay

One weekend when I had no Church assignments, I decided to 
attend a sacrament service in a local ward.  I took my seat in front on the stand and watched the people gather.  A few of the people who came in I knew; most I did not.

Just moments before the meeting started, I saw two missionaries 
come in through a side door with a woman--a very worldly-looking woman. It was obvious that she was new to the group because she looked apprehensively from side to side and had to be guided to her seat.  She was dressed in faded jeans and a tight sweater, and her face was heavily made up.  Her dark and hardened countenance seemed to reflect a life of sin that was frightening to contemplate.

I couldn't help but wonder who would be successful in influencing 
the other--she the missionaries, or the missionaries her.  Immediately following the service, I sought out one of the missionaries and spoke with him privately about the woman he and his companion had brought to church.  My initial question was:  "Elder, where did you meet that worldly woman?"  My tone of voice was Pharisaic, inferring that he had brought to church someone who was unworthy of the privilege of worshiping with our group.  The missionary bristled a little bit, stood his ground, and replied,  "Elder Asay, who has need of the physician, the sick or the whole?"  (see Matthew 9:9-13.)

Well, he had backed me into a corner.  How could I question or refute what he and his good companion were attempting to do for someone who was spiritually sick and in desperate need of help from Christ, the Great Physician?

All I could say in return was: "Be careful! Make certain that she 
doesn't tempt or contaminate you."

Time passed, and I almost completely forgot the incident.  But some months later I attended a fast and testimony meeting in the same chapel. The crowd was much the same as before; some I recognized, some I didn't.  One woman entered alone, walked down the aisle, and seated herself near the front of the chapel.  She sat quietly, meditated, and waited for the start of the meeting.  She was dressed tastefully and her face reflected a special saintliness.  In fact, she was beautiful.  There was something familiar about her,  but I couldn't be sure whether I had ever seen her before.  No one in the congregation seemed to worship as intently as she did during the service.  She seemed to sing and pray with all her heart.

It was a fast Sunday.  The bishop bore his testimony and then invited others to bear theirs.  The beautiful young woman was the first to respond. She stepped to the pulpit and began to speak.  Among other things she tearfully told of how the missionaries had literally fished her out of the gutter, encouraged her to repent, and introduced her to members of the Church and to the fullness of the gospel.  It was then I realized she was the woman dressed in jeans that I had seen in church with the missionaries only a few weeks before.  A miraculous transformation had taken place through the efforts of two dedicated missionaries who looked upon the woman not as she was but as she could become. 

(Excerpt from the book:  The Seven M's of Missionary Service, by Carlos E. Asay, 1996, p. 26-27.)