One in Christ - Building Bridges

Area Leadership Message

Elder Thomas Hänni
Elder Thomas Hänni Area Seventy

Recently, I read a fictional story about two brothers who lived on adjoining farms and fell into conflict. After having shared machinery, goods, and land for decades, their collaboration fell apart. It started with a small misunderstanding which grew into major difference, anger, and weeks of silence.

One morning a carpenter who was looking for a few days of work knocked on the older brother’s door. “Is there anything I could help you with?” asked the carpenter with his toolbox under his arm.

The older brother said, “Yes! Look across the creek at that farm. That belongs to my younger brother. Last week he dug a wider passage for water and ended up creating a very wide creek between our farms. Please build me something so we don’t have to look at each other’s face from across.”

The carpenter said “I think I understand the situation. I can help you.” With that, the carpenter went to work and spent all day measuring, sawing, and nailing.

At sunset, the elder brother returned to the creek as the carpenter had just finished his task. The brother never could have imagined what he saw. It was a bridge stretching from one side of the creek to the other! It looked beautiful! To his surprise, his younger brother crossed the bridge to meet him with a big smile and his arms wide open to hug him.

“You are really humble and kind, my brother. After all I have done and said to you, you still show that our relationship can never be broken! I am very sorry for my behavior,” the younger brother said as he hugged him.

They turned to see the carpenter hoist his toolbox onto his shoulder. “No, wait! Stay a few days. I have lots of other projects for you,” said the older brother.

“I’d love to stay,” the carpenter said, “but I have many other bridges to build!”

Our Savior built the bridge that leads to life and happiness. Through Him we find hope, guidance, and eternal life. He is the example of how to care for others with love and real intent. By accepting each other with all our unique talents, errors, differences, and habits, we’ll open the door to Christ’s invitation to follow Him. The covenants we make represent the bridges and crosswalks that unite us with each other and with Him. Let’s cross with Him individually and collectively all the rivers and obstacles that separate us from one another.

Independently of where we currently stand, our color, culture, interests, profession, social and marital status, education, or sexual orientation, we are all brothers and sisters. We belong to and need one another. He loves us all. We all are God’s children and each one of us decided  to come to this earth. We can’t do it alone. We can be one, despite our differences; and because we are different, we need each other!

“If we are truly disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we will reach out with love and understanding to all of our neighbors at all times.”1

All of us who decided to walk the path of discipleship, together with our rising generation and full time missionaries, follow this teaching and rise up to our Prophet’s invitation to gather Israel and to be One in Christ. “The gathering of Israel is the greatest challenge, the greatest cause, and the greatest work on earth today.”2 We are especially grateful for the energy, vision, and willingness of our young people to put their shoulders to the wheel and build new bridges. We need all hands on deck and all arms lifting. We need everyone.

May we always listen to Christ´s knocking and open the door. May we trust Him and build bridges that reach, unite, and heal all of God’s children.

There is so much power when hearts are knit together3 in unity and love one towards another. This is one work. It is God’s work. It is so vital, that we all come together and work in love and unity.4 Of this I testify in His name, Jesus Christ, Amen.

1 President Ballard, The doctrine of inclusion GC 10/2001

2 President Russell M. Nelson, Worldwide Youth Devotional, June 3, 2018

3 Mosiah 18:21

4 2021 Europe Rising Generation - Recommendations and Unity Model – Europe Area