On August 15, 2007, Peru suffered a massive earthquake that all but destroyed the coastal cities of Pisco and Chincha. Like many other Church leaders and members, Wenceslao Conde, the president of the Balconcito Branch of the Church in Chincha, immediately set about helping others whose homes were damaged.
Four days after the earthquake, Elder Marcus B. Nash of the Seventy was in Chincha helping to coordinate the Church’s relief efforts there and met President Conde. As they talked about the destruction that had occurred and what was being done to help the victims, President Conde’s wife, Pamela, approached carrying one of her small children. Elder Nash asked Sister Conde how her children were. With a smile, she replied that through the goodness of God they were all safe and well. He asked about the Condes’ home.
“It’s gone,” she said simply.
“What about your belongings?” he inquired.
“Everything was buried in the rubble of our home,” Sister Conde replied.
“And yet,” Elder Nash noted, “you are smiling as we talk.”
“Yes,” she said, “I have prayed and I am at peace. We have all we need. We have each other, we have our children, we are sealed in the temple, we have this marvelous Church, and we have the Lord. We can build again with the Lord’s help.”
This tender demonstration of faith and spiritual strength is repeated in the lives of Saints across the world in many different settings. It is a simple illustration of a profound power that is much needed in our day and that will become increasingly crucial in days ahead. We need strong Christians who can persevere against hardship, who can sustain hope through tragedy, who can lift others by their example and their compassion, and who can consistently overcome temptations. We need strong Christians who can make important things happen by their faith and who can defend the truth of Jesus Christ against moral relativism and militant atheism.
What is the source of such moral and spiritual power, and how do we obtain it? The source is God. Our access to that power is through our covenants with Him. A covenant is an agreement between God and man, an accord whose terms are set by God (see Bible Dictionary, “Covenant,” 651). In these divine agreements, God binds Himself to sustain, sanctify, and exalt us in return for our commitment to serve Him and keep His commandments.
We enter into covenants by priesthood ordinances, sacred rituals that God has ordained for us to manifest our commitment. Our foundational covenant, for example, the one in which we first pledge our willingness to take upon us the name of Christ, is confirmed by the ordinance of baptism. It is done individually, by name. By this ordinance, we become part of the covenant people of the Lord and heirs of the celestial kingdom of God.
Excerpt from D. Todd Christofferson’s April 2009 General Conference Address, The Power of Covenants. Elder D. Todd Christofferson is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. View D. Todd Christofferson’s full address here.