You may be familiar with the account, found in the Book of Mormon, of 2000 young men lead by a soldier named Helaman into battle. At this time in their history the Nephites were fighting the Lamanites on multiple fronts and running low on resources and soldiers.
These young men believed God would deliver them.
Alma 53:17 And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage.
And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity; but behold, this was not all—they were men who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.
Yea, they were men of truth and soberness, for they had been taught to keep the commandments of God and to walk uprightly before him.
We know their mothers were spiritual, valiant, and obedient women who understood their responsibilities to teach their children to believe in God, to have faith in him, and that they would be blessed.
What is the background of these families? Were they faithful women who grep up in the church, always knowing what they should do?
No, they weren't. These parents were Lamanites. They had been bloodthirsty warriors. A missionary named Ammon (the chopping arms off missionary) and his companions taught them the gospel. They believed his words, developed faith in Christ, were converted and then baptized . These people covenanted to never fight again.
Alma 24: 18 And this they did, it being in their view a testimony to God, and also to men, that they never would use weapons again for the shedding of man’s blood; and this they did, vouching and covenanting with God, that rather than shed the blood of their brethren they would give up their own lives; and rather than take away from a brother they would give unto him; and rather than spend their days in idleness they would labor abundantly with their hands.
Other Lamanites were upset with their decision to change their lives and came to attack them. The converted Lamanite people, calling themselves the Anti-Nephi-Lehis,
"went out to meet them, and prostrated themselves before them to the earth, and began to call on the name of the Lord; and thus they were in this attitude when the Lamanites began to fall upon them, and began to slay them with the sword.
22 And thus without meeting any resistance, they did slay a thousand and five of them; and we know that they are blessed, for they have gone to dwell with their God."
1005 of these people were killed before their attackers started to realize what they were doing. Their "hearts swelled", they threw down their weapons and joined them in prayer. The scriptures say "And it came to pass that the people of God were joined that day by more than the number who had been slain; "
Can you imagine what it must have been like to see friend, neighbors, and family killed around you? You know how to fight and defend yourselves but you have made a covenant. What shock you would feel as the attackers start to join you in prayer.
As the years passed, you would talk about that day, watching your young sons play. You would be glad they are not growing up to be a warrior like you had been. Rather, you have family home evening. You discuss gospel principals, you talk about what it means to be honest, kind, hard-working, and obedient.
Maybe you point to the neighbor across the road, and strong battle-scarred older man. "See the neighbor across the street?", you ask.
"He used to be one of the fiercest fighters in all the land."
The kids wouldn't believe you. "He is kind and not mean at all."
"He was, but he became kind when he learned about the gospel. His wife was killed because she believed as well."
One day you start to hear rumors of Lamanites crossing the boarders of the land. The Nephite soldiers that protect the village assure you that all is well but you sense all is not well. You were a Lamanite fighter at one point and know better. Your sons are old enough to understand some of the talk and know what is happening. Perhaps some of them are old enough to question your will to fight. They may feel like others are fighting your fights for you. You tell them we can't fight, that all will be well. Inside, however, you probably feel the same way as they do.
I imagine at some point, there may have been a gathering in the village. Some would say "We can't do nothing. We know how to fight and can help win this war. Our children are at danger, we know how the Lamanites will kill anyone who gets in our way."
Some would agree, but others would remind the group of the covenant they had made. At some point the people decide to fight and they begin preparing themselves.
Helaman and other leaders learned of their decision and persuade them to not break their covenant.
And Helaman feared lest by so doing they should lose their souls; therefore all those who had entered into this covenant were compelled to behold their brethren wade through their afflictions, in their dangerous circumstances at this time.
Alma 53: 15
"We cannot fight."
I can imagine that at some point a group of their sons talking amongst themselves and said "We can."
"We didn't make a covenant. We can fight. We can help.
"No", some would say, but they would know it is true.
"We are on the right side of the war, are we not?"
"Our cause is just, right? God will be with us."
These young men covenant.
And they entered into a covenant to fight for the liberty of the Nephites, yea, to protect the land unto the laying down of their lives; yea, even they covenanted that they never would give up their liberty, but they would fight in all cases to protect the Nephites and themselves from bondage.
These young men probably knew about Moroni and the Title of Liberty. Moroni had it raised all across the land, several years before, so they probably had one in their city.
Behold, whosoever will maintain this title upon the land, let them come forth in the strength of the Lord, and enter into a covenant that they will maintain their rights, and their religion, that the Lord God may bless them.
We know how these 2000 stripling warriors fought valiantly and obediently.
At one point, Helaman is giving them a pep talk before a particularly dangerous battle.
Therefore what say ye, my sons, will ye go against them to battle?
And now I say unto you, my beloved brother Moroni, that never had I seen so great courage, nay, not amongst all the Nephites.
For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.
Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.
And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it.
I think Helaman had some doubts, though.
And now it came to pass that when they had surrendered themselves up unto us, behold, I numbered those young men who had fought with me, fearing lest there were many of them slain.
But behold, to my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war.
Alma 56: 55 -56
They were keys to several successful battles. All were wounded but none perished.
These valiant mothers, surely with fathers by their side, had seen to their duties as parents and taught their children well.
Especially to say
Wishing you a happy
And wonderful day...
And to tell you this day
Will always be one
For remembering the many
Sweet things you have done!
~ unknown ~
Mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend. No matter the role you play, we thank you for the joy and positive influence you bring to those around you.
Along with these young nephites freedom fighters we say, "We do not doubt our mothers know it".
P.S. Just in case you are wondering what 2000 stripling warriors looks like, watch this video.