May 22, 2012

Joan of Arc Leads with the Power of God

This week at church we had a High Counselor speak.  Brother Becknell spoke first on the importance of Mothers in their relationships with their kids, especially their daughters.  Then the choir sang, "Battle Hymn of the Republic."  How do you tie those two completely different themes together?  Bro. Becknell did it by telling us that America wouldn't be free if it weren't for a teenage girl!  Huh?
Joan of Arc was born in 1412 as a peasant in the country of France.  She lived in an area that had been ravaged by years of war and the people were living in extreme poverty.  Her own village had been burned and sacked several years earlier.  At the time of her birth, France was ruled by England and battles continued to explode as other invaders tried to claim pieces of France.  At age 12, Joan began to feel pulled toward God and began to attend church more faithfully.  She began to see visions of angels and other messengers who taught her to be pure and go to church.  Through them, God began to teach her that France should be free, not ruled by England. 
She tried to set up a meeting with the son of the deposed King to tell him what God had told her.  But he wouldn't meet with her.  Why would he?  She was just a peasant girl.  After a couple of years of trying, she foretold the outcome of a battle exactly, and that got the Dauphin's (future king) attention.  Dressed as a man, she snuck through enemy territory to meet with the Dauphin.  To him, she said, "I am sent of God to aid you and the kingdom."  Then she told him of a very private prayer he had offered to God, asking God for help in behalf of the suffering people in his kingdom, and saying that they should not suffer if it was due to his sins.  She assured him that he was to reign on the throne of France.  The Dauphin was convinced of her divine mission and was ecstatic. 
Although she was a simple young farm girl, he believed her but he had to convince his armies and leaders.  So he had to put her to a test by the religious leaders of the country.  He didn't want them to think she was possessed by a devil or something.  After religious leaders interviewed her, they "declared her to be of irreproachable life, a good Christian, possessed of the virtues of humility, honesty and simplicity."  Perhaps she could change their desperate circumstances into a victory after all. 
A white suit of armor was made to fit her exactly.  And she made herself a banner with the image of Christ on it, reading 'with two angels at our sides.'  She traveled to the battle front and confronted the tired French army.  She sent any women in the group away and then preached repentance to the lot.  She forced all of them to confess their sins and go to church.  She made them commit to stop swearing and behaving badly around civilians.  But mostly, she inspired them.  She gave them hope by telling them about her visions of a free France.  Men joined the army in droves after hearing that there was a 'saint' leading them.  She called herself simply 'the maiden.' 
Sending a letter warning the opponents to give up their cause because the Dauphin was God's choice to lead France, she began her campaign.  It's a fascinating study of war strategy that you might want to read.  Joan always went ahead of the soldiers, perched on a white horse with her white armor shining, carrying her banner, not weapons.  She convinced soldiers and civilians alike that the French were supposed to win as determined by God, which helped them win many battles.  In some cases, the towns gave up without a fight.  Joan was wounded twice—once with an arrow through her shoulder (and yet she marched ahead at the front of the army again before sundown) and another with an arrow to her thigh.  She was amazing!  To summarize, after several battles and campaigns, Joan was successful in retaking towns and getting the Dauphin Prince Charles to the city of Reims, where he would be crowned King of France.
After the coronation, Joan wept as she said, "Now is accomplished the pleasure of God, who wished me to bring you to this city to receive your holy anointing, to show that you are the true king and the one to whom the kingdom of France should belong."  Now King Charles continued the campaign to restore French cities to French rule. 
God had accomplished His desire, as France was free to rule its citizens once again.  And this was important to American History, for as we fought the Revolutionary war against England, the French came to our aid.  If they had not helped us, we would never have won this war of independence ourselves.  And if France were ruled by the British, without Joan's intervention centuries earlier, we would have had no alliance with a non-existent France. 
Brother Becknell was right!  America would not be free without the bravery and work of a teenage girl!  In my scripture reading today I came across this scripture in 3 Nephi 21:4, "For it is wisdom in the Father that they should be established in this land and be set up as a free people by the power of the Father, that these things (the gospel) might come forth from them unto a remnant of your seed, that the covenant of the Father may be fulfilled…"  America had to be free so that angels could come to a teenage boy named Joseph Smith and restore the gospel of Jesus Christ.
God worked with these teenagers to accomplish His purposes.  He has a work for each of us to do in His kingdom today.  We can do the hard things it takes to prepare for our work. 

For more information, see: 
Williamson, Allen.  Joan of Arc Short Biography  30 March 2010, Joan of Arc Archive, found on May 22, 2012 at:
Wikipedia, Joan of Arc, found on May 22, 2012 at

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