The LDS General Conference has really got me thinking about service. Several stories have been told, and scriptures recited that have related to service. One of these was the story of Ammon in the Book of Mormon. Ammon was one of the most successful missionaries in the Book of Mormon, but it wasn’t because he was a great speaker, or because he caused great miracles, but instead it was because he served others.
In Alma chapter 17 Ammon when among the people of King Lamoni. He was captured and taken to the King. King Lamoni questioned Ammon about what he was doing in the land. Ammon could have said anything: “I am just a traveler” “I got lost” or even “I have come to teach you about the true God”; but instead his reply is rather surprising:
“And the king inquired of Ammon if it were his desire to dwell in the land among the Lamanites, or among his people. And Ammon said unto him: Yea, I desire to dwell among this people for a time; yea, and perhaps until the day I die.”
Ammon declares that he simply wants to be part of the people of Lamoni. He doesn’t come in to say that they should repent, or even tell them to release him. Ammon’s goal here is not to be deceiving or lie. It is the simple truth, he desires to live with them, and that hopefully by some way he can be an example unto them of the true God. And he gets that chance.
King Lamoni makes Ammon a servant over some of the King’s flocks. As time passes the King see that Ammon is a good servant and hard worker. Then a group of robbers comes from the wilderness to steal the some of the king’s flocks. The rest of the king’s servants run and hide as the robbers come upon them, but Ammon stands strong, he contends with the men and is able to drive them out. The other servants are so impressed that they go to the King and tell him the story. The men and the King become convinced that Ammon must be more than a man, maybe even “the Great Spirit”. When Lamoni asks where Ammon is now, the servants respond that he is “feeding the horses”. Lamoni is amazed at the dedicated service of Ammon and Lamoni responds:
“Surely there has not been any servant among all my servants that has been so faithful as this man; for even he doth remember all my commandments to execute them.”
Even after hearing of the heroic acts of Ammon, Lamoni is most impressed with Ammon’s service. Lamoni calls Ammon to him. King Lamoni is in awe in front of Ammon, and even has trouble talking to Ammon. I would say that at this moment Ammon could have asked the King for anything and he would have given it to him, but instead of thinking of his own gain Ammon begins to teach Lamoni the gospel, they become close friends, and many are baptized.
Now, teaching and conversion, is not hardly the only reason to serve people. But the point is that true selfless service can change lives.