News Story

Missionaries Serve Muslim Families in Christchurch

Young missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently helped out at Christchurch's Muslim Recovery Centre at Hagley Park.


The temporary relief centre was set up to provide support to members of the city's Muslim community in the wake of last month's mass shootings in two mosques.

The missionaries—Elder Dawson Hair, Elder Garrett Lesā, Elder Trace Wimber and Elder Braden Clement—are all serving two year missions in New Zealand.

"We got a call asking for our help at the Muslim Recovery Centre here in Christchurch," Elder Hair recalls. "We were very excited to help because it's a place that only members of the Muslim community and the volunteers are allowed in.

"We were able to directly help the victims of the attack by helping them get boxes of food, providing hot meals for these families and guiding them around the area that various types of social care was available. It was was great because I got to meet so many amazing people and work alongside with them."

He added, "We had been praying for ways that we could really help the community from what took place on the 15th. I am so grateful for the opportunity to help my brothers and sisters and feel united with God's children. I have come to love the people here in Christchurch, they have taught me so much."

"The opportunity to serve those in the Muslim Recovery Centre came to us as a big surprise," Elder Garrett Lesā said.

"We drove to Hagley Oval not knowing what they needed us to do, or what difference we would actually make. But it was an amazing experience for us to not only serve others, but to see many people come together with one purpose. To share love and peace."

Elder Lesā continued, "We got put in charge of helping assemble packages for those who were in need. But the thing that stood out to me the most was how much was donated. So many people wanted to help in the ways that they could."

Elder Trace Wimber said, "We spent about six hours both on Monday and on Tuesday helping out. We did all sorts of things including helping ascertain the needs of families and directing them to the correct agency to provide help, dishing up food in the kitchen, preparing boxes of groceries and household supplies for families in need, and even being photographers. There was heaps of boxes that needed to be hefted around as well."

He added, "It was really an honour to have such an involved part in supporting the Muslim community. This was the most contact I've ever had with Muslim people, so I learned many new things. It was a very humbling experience to see how grateful and patient these people were.

"At one point there was about an hour long wait in order to see a particular agency, and I had to be the bearer of bad tidings to those waiting, but no one expressed anger or frustration to or at me, only gratitude."

Elder Braden Clement said "the greatest part was to be near these amazing people and their graciousness. The grateful and patient attitudes they displayed despite the horrible things that had happened were inspiring. We were really able to feel God's love for them and for their dedication to Him."

There are over 65,000 young and senior missionaries for the Church serving for 18 to 24 months in countries around the world.

They are unpaid and pay their own way. In some cases they are supported financially by family and other Latter-day Saints.

They provide regular service in the communities in which they live, and also share teachings about God, Jesus Christ and His gospel to those who wish to learn.


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