Viewpoint: The miraculous protection of the Manila Philippines Temple and the nature of miracles

On Friday Dec. 1, 1989, rebel forces in Manila, Philippines, attempted to overthrow Philippine President Corazon Aquino. During a week of skirmishes between government and rebel forces in Manila, the LDS temple there came under attack.

In an article published in the Ensign of June 2001, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles addressed the topic of miracles by sharing a personal story of the miraculous protection of the Manila Philippines Temple. At about 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 2, rebel soldiers breached the gate of the temple and occupied the temple grounds exchanging gunfire with loyal government forces in a nearby military installation called Camp Aguinaldo, he said.

With a report on Sunday, Dec. 3, that government forces were massing to drive out the rebels from the temple grounds, Manila Philippines Temple President Floyd H. Hogan sought out the commander of loyal government forces to invite caution, said Elder Oaks. He was informed that government forces were planning to attack the rebel forces at the temple at 11 p.m. with armored personnel carriers, heavy mortars and 150 soldiers. Great damage to the temple facilities was expected.

This was communicated back to Elder Oaks by Elder George I. Cannon a member of the Seventy who was then president of the Church’s Philippines/Micronesia Area.

Elder Oaks said, “At 8 a.m., 3 December, [1989] just 30 minutes after I received that alarming report from Manila, the assembled First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve bowed in prayer and pleaded with the Lord to intervene to protect His house. Elder Marvin J. Ashton led our prayer. As we prayed, it was 11 p.m. Sunday evening in Manila, the exact hour appointed for the assault.”

The attack never occurred. “Twenty minutes after our prayer, President Cannon phoned Church headquarters to report that the military commander had unexpectedly decided against a night assault. Early the next morning, Philippine time, President Hogan phoned to say that the rebels had melted away during the night. I recorded in my journal, ‘I consider this a miracle of divine intervention no less impressive than many recorded in holy writ.’ ”

Mormon 9:19 reads: “And if there were miracles wrought then, why has God ceased to be a God of miracles and yet be an unchangeable Being? And behold, I say unto you he changeth not; if so he would cease to be God; and he ceaseth not to be God, and is a God of miracles.”

The LDS guide to the scriptures defines a miracle as “an extraordinary event caused by the power of God. Miracles are an important element in the work of Jesus Christ. They include healings, restoring the dead to life and resurrection. Miracles are a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Faith is necessary in order for miracles to be manifested.”

The prophet Alma explained why faith is necessary for miracles as he related the workings of the Liahona. “And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day” (Alma 37:40).

When considering how miracles occur, we must consider the power of God or the power of the priesthood. Throughout the scriptures, Church history and from the lives of latter-day Saints, we do not need to look far for the existence of miracles performed by the priesthood. Elder Oaks explained in his talk on miracles that the “means” described in Mosiah 8:18 is priesthood power: “God has provided a means that man, through faith, might work mighty miracles.”

President Thomas S. Monson said, “Miracles are everywhere to be found when priesthood callings are magnified. When faith replaces doubt, when selfless service eliminates selfish striving, the power of God brings to pass His purposes” (May 2006 Ensign, “Our Sacred Priesthood Trust”).

Men and women desire miracles because of their beneficial nature. They often come with a timestamp reading, “Please grant immediately.” But part of the principle of faith needed for miracles is trusting in the Lord’s timetable. Sister Susan Tanner, then Young Women general president, said in the April 2008 general conference, “I delight in the Lord’s mercies and miracles. I know that His tender mercies and His miracles, large and small, are real. They come in His way and on His timetable” (May 2008 Ensign, “My Soul Delighteth in the Things of the Lord”).

A miraculous healing, heavenly visitation or divine intervention does not contain the building blocks of conversion. The Encyclopedia of Mormonism states, “Conversion is a process, not an event. Conversion comes as a result of righteous efforts to follow the Savior. These efforts include exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting of sin, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end in faith.”

As Latter-day Saints we choose to believe. We believe in a merciful and loving God Who stands ready to bless us in times of need according to His will. He wants to bless us and is limited only by our lack of faith.

President Thomas S. Monson, in an October 2000 general conference address, said: “Faith precedes the miracle. It has ever been so and shall ever be. It was not raining when Noah was commanded to build an ark. There was no visible ram in the thicket when Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. Two heavenly personages were not yet seen when Joseph knelt and prayed. First came the test of faith — and then the miracle. Remember that faith and doubt cannot exist in the same mind at the same time, for one will dispel the other. Cast out doubt. Cultivate faith” (“The Call to Serve,” Ensign, November 2000, pp. 48–49).

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