In December 2021, Sister Bang-orn Wutthikulsaksit had moved from a big ward in the Ubon Thailand Stake to the small branch of Yasothorn. She was quite concerned when she found that there were only 15 members attending sacrament meeting. “What should I do?” she wondered. She remembered hearing President Nelson speak to women in the Church in the October 2018 General Conference: “My dear sisters, we need you! We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. We simply cannot gather Israel without you.”
Sister Bang-orn asked her branch president what she could to do help and he gave her a list of names of the members in the branch. She and her husband went to visit four families every Saturday. Six months later, there were 46 in attendance at sacrament meeting in that small branch. Sister Bang-orn then did the same with all the members in the stake and sent an invitation to all ward and branch Relief Society presidents to join her in her ministering effort.”
This story reminds us of the parable of the lost sheep when Jesus said: “If a man have an hundred sheep, and one of them be gone astray, doth he not leave the ninety and nine, and goeth into the mountains, and seeketh that which is gone astray? And if so be that he find it, verily I say unto you, he rejoiceth more of that sheep, than of the ninety and nine which went not astray.”
“My dear sisters, we need you! We need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices. We simply cannot gather Israel without you.”President Russell M. Nelson
Perhaps we can never fully understand this if we have stayed among those ninety-nine. However, our perspective would be quite different if we were the one to go out to find the lost ones and bring them home. Would we not rejoice? Would we not call together our friends and neighbors and ask them to rejoice with us?
Recently, I read a story about a lost sheep. “In 2004, Shrek, a Merino sheep from New Zealand, did not go to the shearing shed with the rest of his flock on the day he was due to have his beautiful fleece trimmed for summer. Instead, he went in the other direction and found a cave to live in by himself.”
Now, you might wonder why nobody missed Shrek, but he was part of a flock of 17,000 sheep! That is a very large flock. So maybe you can see how the shepherds didn’t notice when one slipped away.
Shrek did not just skip shearing on that one day; he lived in his cave, avoiding shearing for six whole years!
Poor Shrek must have been very hot and uncomfortable. When the shepherd found him, he took him back to the shearing shed and gave him his first haircut in six years. What a relief that must have been for him. When it was all cut off, Shrek’s fleece weighed 27 kgs (60lbs). That is enough wool to make twenty men’s suits!
Brothers and sisters, we have many “Shrek the sheep” among us who turn to the wrong direction and are carrying the heavy burden of their afflictions and problems. They are still waiting for us to help them get a haircut and relieve those burdens and bring them home. Recall with me the beautiful words of the Lord’s revelation from Section 18 of the Doctrine and Covenants:
“Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God;
…And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!”
If you bring your friends back to church with you, please remember the guiding principles: love, share and invite. You should do it in a natural way with a sincere heart. Bishop Gérald Caussé once said: “It is your duty to reach out to anyone who appears at the doors of your Church buildings. Welcome them with gratitude and without prejudice. If people you do not know walk into one of your meetings, greet them warmly and invite them to sit with you. Please make the first move to help them feel welcome and loved, rather than waiting for them to come to you.”
I would like to invite you to come to church, but don’t come alone. As we participate in the work of salvation each day in small and simple ways, I promise that your heart will brim with joy, and you will rejoice in your God.
 Nelson, Russell M., “Sisters’ Participation in the Gathering of Israel” Ensign or Liahona, November 2018, 70,
 Matthew 18:12-13.
 See Luke 15:5-6.
 Bishop Gérald Caussé, “Ye Are No More Strangers,” Ensign or Liahona, November 2013, 50.
 See Alma 26:11.