The story of Abish has been poignant for me the past few years. Abish was a Lamanite servant to the Lamanite queen, wife of King Lamoni. Abish is only mentioned in a few verses in Alma 19, but she is crucial to the beginning of conversions among the Lamonites. Ammon would not have been successful without her and we can learn a lot from her example.
Abish had been converted at a young age. Her father had seen a vision and she believed the vision. Yet, she never let her conversion be known. She was a Lamanite, after all, and it could’ve been dangerous for her to pronounce that she believed in the same traditions of the Nephites.
As a servant to the Lamanite queen, Abish must’ve been present during all the previous happenings with Ammon: his humbleness and willing to be a servant, the slaying of arms, his discussions with Lamoni about the Great Spirit, and the first time Lamoni fainted in the Spirit. How must have Abish felt watching her Queen have faith that her husband wasn’t dead. What earnest desire Abish must have felt and what angst she must have felt wanting to speak up and share her testimony. But she didn’t. She remained quiet and allowed Ammon to be God’s tool.
However, once King Lamoni awakened with a blazing testimony, fainted again, and all the rest of the court (Queen, Ammon, and servants) fainted in the Spirit, Abish was the only one left standing. Verse 16 mentions that she was the only one who did not faint because she had already been converted. But, she could not stay quiet anymore:
Thus, having been converted to the Lord, and never having made it known, therefore, when she saw that all the servants of Lamoni had fallen to the earth, and also her mistress, the queen, and the king, and Ammon layprostrate upon the earth, she knew that it was the power of God; and supposing that this opportunity, by making known unto the people what had happened among them, that by beholding this scene it would cause them to believe in the power of God, therefore she ran forth from house to house, making it known unto the people. (Alma 19:17)
As soon as her story was told, Lamanites ran to the court to see for themselves. Yet, no one could really figure out what had happened. Some blamed Ammon saying he was a curse. Some said it was the Great Spirit punishing King Lamoni for this or for that. A Lamanite (whose brother had been killed by Ammon earlier) tried to kill Ammon, but was struck dead instead. It was chaotic and pandemonium. Not what Abish had hoped for. Verse 28 said that when she came back and saw this scene, “she was exceedingly sorrowful, even unto tears.” So, she, with her faith and testimony strong, crossed the room, and for all to see, grabbed the Queen’s hand and lifted her up. The Queen awoke, with a new testimony, as did the rest of those who had fainted. Thus, Ammon was able to begin his ministering among King Lamoni’s people. All because of a brave servant girl named Abish.
Stick to Your Beliefs
There are times when we can’t show our beliefs out loud. Think of Daniel–the Israelites weren’t allowed to worship or pray to God out loud. Think of King Limhi’s people who were enslaved by the Lamanites and Amalekites–each time they prayed and worshiped God, their burdens were increased. So, they decided to keep praying but in secret.
Think of historical examples: the Jews during the Spanish Inquisition had to worship in secret or be tortured. Many times this has been the pattern in some unfortunate countries. Yet, whether or not it is popular, whether or not you can publicly proselyte, we need to stick to our beliefs. I have always loved the story of the Jerusalem Center–the local authorities allowed the BYU Center to be built in Jerusalem granted that the Mormons don’t proselyte. General Authorities agreed. But then, the local authorities said, “But, what are you going to do about their eyes?” Students who go to the Jerusalem Center still believe in the Church and live its standards–it’s apparent and obvious to those around them.
Abish only had her father’s vision to go on. She knew no one else who believed in God. But, she never stopped believing. She never gave in.
Be Brave in Your Faith
If Abish had previously mentioned that she was a believer, who knows what might have happened to her. She might have been ridiculed, or more likely exiled, or even worse–put to death! Even when she witnessed her King and Queen fainting in the Spirit, she could’ve been silent. After seeing the chaotic arguments that ensued when everyone saw, she could have quietly walked away. Instead, she was brave and put everything on the line to share her testimony.
The moment had come when she had to choose. Would she stand up for what she believed? Or would she remain quiet? …The courageous actions of a common servant—someone like many of those who had come to see what the commotion was all about—combined with the testimonies of others, changed many lives in ways that can be measured only in eternity. (Heather B. Moore, “Abish: A Common Servant, a True Testimony”, Ensign July 2012)
Yes, many people are willing to die as matyrs for their faith. And that is very brave of them…but, it is only smart if it has a purpose. While on his mission, my husband knew of many Muslims who were interested in the Gospel, but couldn’t do anything about it at the time–couldn’t be baptized, couldn’t take missionary lessons. They were trying to protect others. If any word got back to their families in the Middle East under any of the terrorist regimes (ISIS, Taliban, Al-Qaeda) could have disastrous repercussions. It is better for them to be silent in their faith and be brave that way than to risk family lives.
Sharing Your Testimony Has Strong Power
A lot of times, our Gospel is one of action rather than of complacency. Hence, we have a strong missionary force. Hence, the Church has all those Easter and Christmas campaigns. Hence, we always talk about being a member missionary and sharing the Gospel and bearing our testimonies and finding opportunities to serve others, etc.
Elder Cecil O. Samuelson of the Seventy said, “When you share your testimony, it strengthens and increases for both the bearer and the hearer.” The power of Abish’s actions brought many witnessed to the scene and allowed them to see for themselves the power of God. Hearing a testimony, or witnessing a testimony is an amazing stepping stone to creating your own strong foundation. That is why we have testimony meeting every month. That is why so many Mormon bloggers share their testimonies online, regardless of what their niche is. That is why this site was created.
During the April 2011 General Conference, President Henry B. Eyring mentioned a plead and a prophesy of Brigham Young’s concerning the women and their testimonies of this dispensation:
It is at the heart of my message tonight. [Brigham Young] said in a room in his home less than a mile where this message now goes out to daughters of God in nations across the world: ‘There is a need for the young daughters of Israel to get a living testimony of the truth.’
Now, for the rest of your lives, you will need that living and growing testimony to fortify you and lead your path to eternal life. And with it, you will become the transmitters of the Light of Christ to your brothers and sisters across the world and across the generations.
The Lord will find ways for that light to touch those you love. And through the combined faith and testimony of His daughters, God will touch the lives of millions in His kingdom and across the world with his light.
I am thankful for Abish’s example. After paying close attention to her story a few years ago, I have tried to do better with sharing my testimony. I still get nervous and don’t help missionaries on splits. But, I strive to be a good example to my neighbors, try to magnify my callings, and share my testimony often on my personal blog, as well as contribute to She Teaches Fearlessly. Whether or not my testimony helps others, these actions definitely strengthen my own. Thank you, Abish.