When I was a missionary in Southeastern Africa, it was very common for Christian churches to claim that they could perform the miracles that Christ and his apostles had performed. Churches would fill chapels and even stadiums so that their audience could witness a pastor give sight to a blind man or heal a cripple.
Because of this cultural phenomenon, people would often ask me, “Does your Church perform miracles?” It was a question that both missionaries and members were familiar with. And it was a question that we struggled to satisfactorily answer.
Of course, I would explain that Christ and his apostles never would have used divine power to make money or to put on a show for the world. I explained that Christ generally performed his miracles in private, commanding the recipient to tell no one what had happened.
And I would also explain that God has restored true Priesthood power and authority—power and authority only found in the LDS Church.
But to be honest, without an account of modern miracles similar to what had happened in Christ’s day, I always felt that, given their cultural expectations, my answer was insufficient.
On the last day of my mission, that changed.
I was walking to the chapel with two companions, when a woman stopped us and told us that she wanted to visit our Church. We told her that we were on our way there and would be more than happy to accompany her to our meetings.
We spoke with her about our message as we walked, and when we were just outside the chapel, she asked the question I had heard so many times before: “Does your Church perform miracles?”
In that moment I looked away, feeling some familiar chagrin. But as I did so, my mission flashed before my eyes; I remembered faces and families—lives that had been changed, humility that had overcome pride, joy that had replaced misery, addictions that had been conquered, and peace that had displaced confusion. I saw individuals and families who had come unto Christ and found great happiness.
After that instantaneous recollection, a woman walked onto the chapel grounds. She was beaming with light and peace. But I knew that she hadn’t always been so happy. Before the restored Gospel had touched her family, they had struggled tremendously. Her husband had been an alcoholic and they fought frequently. But after she and her family accepted Christ’s gospel, that darkness was replaced with light. And she was one of the happiest people I had ever known.
All of this transpired in my mind in just a couple of seconds. After that pause, I knew what to say. I looked at the investigator and confidently told her, “Yes, Sister. Our Church works miracles. Do you see that woman over there? She is happy. And that is a miracle.”
I was reminded in those moments that it is the spiritual miracles that Christ’s ministry is really all about. Physical miracles have played an important role at various times, particularly when the Lord is reestablishing His Church after a period of darkness. But ultimately, they are a matter of very little eternal consequence.
You see, whether a person is cured of physical blindness in this life is ultimately inconsequential. But whether spiritual blindness is healed is a matter of utmost eternal significance.
Christ performed many miracles while he was here on the Earth, but the only ones that really mattered were the Atonement and the hearts that were changed by His goodness.
These true miracles are what Christ still performs today through the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Other more physical miracles happen too, but it is the spiritual miracles—the ones that have occurred in my life and I hope in yours—that are the hallmark of Christ’s ministry.
Every day I feel my nature changed by Christ’s grace. He has helped me to overcome weakness after weakness. And I would gladly accept those miracles over any temporal blessing He could bestow.
So, let there be no mistake about it…the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a church of miracles.
By Dustin Phelps