MANILA, Philippines — There is something uniquely warm and loving about Saints in the Philippines, said President Jean B. Bingham at the conclusion of a 10 day ministering visit to the Philippines Area in early February. The people of the Philippines, she said, understand the importance of ministering as the Savior did, by reaching out and loving their neighbors “isa isa” — one by one.
Although President Bingham’s visit was primarily centered on the Relief Society and Latter-day Saint Charities’ coordinated efforts to learn from and support area-led efforts to address malnutrition in the country, the key message that resonated throughout her visit is the power true ministering has to bless the lives of people everywhere.
Leading by example, the Relief Society general president began nearly every meeting or training with the local Relief Society leaders by organizing chairs into a circle and introducing herself personally to each woman present.
“The purpose of a ministering interview is to find out what is going on with the sisters in your ward,” she told a focus group of local Relief Society sisters in Manila, Philippines. “It’s not about how many times you visit or even if you did visit. It is about finding out what is going on in their life.”
That personal knowledge and interest is a key component of the success of the nutrition program implemented in the city of Catarman, as well as in the initial nutrition screening in the city of Toledo, both of which President Bingham visited. Through the “hand-in-glove” efforts of local priesthood leadership and ministering sisters, both congregations were better able to address the specific needs of their members and President Bingham expressed how impressed she was with the awareness of the Saints’ needs and the proactive approach they took in addressing them.
In its true form, ministering involves every member, said the Relief Society general president. “Ministering and leadership are inextricably connected. They can’t be taken apart.”
In multiple trainings and meetings with members throughout the areas, President Bingham explained how leadership depends on the process of ministering to understand and address the needs of members.
Every Relief Society presidency has been set apart to receive revelation for their units and the women there, President Bingham explained. The Lord knows what they need and often will work through leaders and ministering sisters to help them.
Added Elder Taniela B. Wakolo, General Authority Seventy and first counselor in the Philippines Area presidency, “Ministering brothers and sisters are meant to help share the load and distribute the weight.” Without the one-on-one work of ministering brothers and sisters, leaders in the Church wouldn’t be as aware of each of the members over which they preside.
Individual outreach is also a key part of building a sense of unity and belonging, President Bingham added. “We are all alike unto God. No matter our circumstances, He wants each of us to feel like we belong together and every person’s perspective is important and needed.”