24 And it came to pass that in this same year there was exceedingly great prosperity in the church, insomuch that there were thousands who did join themselves unto the church and were baptized unto repentance.
25 And so great was the prosperity of the church, and so many the blessings which were poured out upon the people, that even the high priests and the teachers were themselves astonished beyond measure.
26 And it came to pass that the work of the Lord did prosper unto the baptizing and uniting to the church of God, many souls, yea, even tens of thousands.
27 Thus we may see that the Lord is merciful unto all who will, in the sincerity of their hearts, call upon his holy name.
In the middle of a chapter that covers ten years of history, Mormon briefly describes a period of peace and prosperity for the church. It’s worth noting that, although he uses the word “prosperity” twice, he is not necessarily referring to worldly wealth. As Elder Quentin L. Cook has taught: “Prospering and being wealthy are not necessarily synonymous. A much better gospel definition of prospering in the land is having sufficient for our needs while having the abundant blessing of the Spirit in our lives” (“The Rewards of Righteousness,” Brigham Young University Women’s Conference, May 2, 2014).
The prosperity of the church was manifest in two ways:
- The growth of the church – “Tens of thousands” of people were baptized and joined the church.
- Blessings received by church members – Although Mormon doesn’t elaborate on the nature of these blessings, he tells us that they far exceeded the expectations of church leaders. “Even the high priests and the teachers were themselves astonished beyond measure.”
Undoubtedly, these two forms of prosperity were symbiotic: the blessings received by church members attracted other people to the church, and the new members of the church inspired existing church members to greater faithfulness. It was a virtuous cycle.
Elder Ulisses Soares has taught us that welcoming new friends into the church strengthens all of us. He compared the church to the Amazon River, which is formed as two large rivers—Solimões and Negro—come together and are unified.
In a similar way that the Solimões and Negro Rivers flow together to make the great Amazon River, the children of God come together in the restored Church of Jesus Christ from different social backgrounds, traditions, and cultures, forming this wonderful community of Saints in Christ. Eventually, as we encourage, support, and love each other, we combine to form a mighty force for good in the world. As followers of Jesus Christ, flowing as one in this river of goodness, we will be able to provide the “fresh water” of the gospel to a thirsty world.
Today, I will remember that the prosperity of the church consists of both quantifiable and non-quantifiable blessings. I will remember the peace and joy experienced by the members of the church—both old and new—described in the passage above. And I will remember that a unified and faithful group of people can receive extraordinary blessings from the Lord.