Finding the Influence of Righteous Women

Sisters in Africa

Editor’s Note: links to music videos are shared with the permission of Colleen Solomon and Allie Gardner; these videos are not sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I am thrilled to be serving as a full-time senior missionary in the Ivory Coast, Africa. One of the great privileges that I have is associating with young and talented African sister missionaries—such as shown in the photo above. They are women of such “exceeding faith” like the wife of King Lamoni (Alma 19:10). These sister missionaries are first generation converts: pioneers in their own West African countries. With their righteous examples they are influencing their families, Church members, and many converts to the gospel in the Ivory Coast.

Looking for Righteous Women in our Scriptures

A few years ago, I had a profound experience while reading 1 Nephi:18 in the Book of Mormon. I felt prompted to ponder verses 11-22. My mind caught hold of the dramatic scene of Nephi being bound “with much harshness” (1 Nephi 18:11) on the tempest tossed ship. I could visualize Nephi’s wife desperate with her “tears and prayers” (1 Nephi 18:19) pleading for his release.

Nephi and wife

My heart ached for Father Lehi and the grand matriarch Sariah, so distraught that ”they were near to be cast with sorrow into a watery grave” (1 Nephi 18:18). I was humbled by the unshakeable faith of Nephi who after four days of horrific abuse continued to “praise God all the day long” (1 Nephi 18:16). This scene was so vivid to me that I could almost taste the salty sea air. The thoughts that surfaced from that pondering experience are now the lyrics of a song entitled “Unbind Nephi.” The lyrics reflect the perspective of Nephi’s wife and her staggering challenge during that ordeal.

President M. Russell Ballard said, As we look for and find women in our scriptures… we will see far better the power and influence women have on family, community, the church and the world.” He further encouraged, “we need to develop the skill to find their influence (“Righteous Women Essential to God’s Work, Elder Ballard Says,” Church News, May 4, 2015; italics added).

When I read that quote it ignited a fire within me. I was determined to develop the skill to find the influence of my sisters’ voices in the scriptures. With my passion of studying women of influence coupled with the profundity of my pondering experience, I researched many stories in our canon of scripture from a women’s perspective. After I had duplicated this experience about a dozen times, I ended up with a compilation of inspiring prose. My impressions became the springboard for a musical project entitled “Covenant Women: The Untold Stories of Women in the Book of Mormon.”

Finding a Voice for the Mother of Alma the Younger

Then, my sweet husband, Elder Dave Solomon, suggested that I write the lyrics to a song about the mother of Alma the Younger, particularly from her perspective during his rebellious years.

Colleen and Dave Solomon

This mother is not mentioned anywhere in the Book of Mormon, but I do not think it would be too unreasonable to assume that whether she was on this side of the veil or the other side, she would have been pleading for her son’s return to virtue.

As his mother she would have had cherished memories of holding him close. I could picture her smiling as she recalls with such fondness his endearing little boy charms. She would have known that even during the years when he was the vilest of sinners” (Mosiah 28:4). To portray this idea, I wrote, “there is light in him, though the light is dim, there is goodness there, he is Thy heir. I am certain that we can assume that she would have been praying for a miracle like her prophet husband Alma did. The song “There Is Light in Him” reflects this pleading mother’s ministering efforts for her struggling child (Colleen Solomon, “There Is Light in Him,” sung by Allie Gardner, 2018).

The process of creating the music has been sacred for me. When we were recording it, there was so much warmth and light in the studio. Everyone involved in the project could think of someone they knew who was struggling with their testimony. The powerful image of a mother pleading in prayer for her child was inspiring.

Angel and Alma

Acts of Daily Ministering

I have looked to these influential women for inspiration as I accept the opportunity to minister in a higher holier way. I believe that praying for our brothers and sisters—including our family members—can have profound effects such as we witness in the life of Alma the Younger.

General Relief Society President Sister Jean Bingham said, “Sometimes we think we have to do something grand and heroic to ‘count’ as serving our neighbors. Yet simple acts of service can have profound effects on others” (“Ministering as the Savior Does,” Ensign. May 2018).

Ministering service and charity can even include attending a Relief Society anniversary social and dressing in a sisterhood of Relief Society colors.

Sister Colleen Solomon In Relief Society Colors

Inspiring a Generation of Stripling Warriors

Few collective groups in the scriptures have the power to stir the vision and inspire the soul, as do the mothers of the “two thousand stripling soldiers” (Alma 53:22).

Stripling Warriors

They were women of influence who understood what it means to minister wholeheartedly. They are the models of covenant keepers. These mothers inspired a generation, and their legacy blesses millions of lives. Young men of missionary age, inexperienced in war, went to battle against seasoned fierce men whose only desire was their destruction. Their mothers’ testimonies—“burning in their heart like holy writ”—were powerful enough for faith to overcome what certainly could have been paralyzing fear (Colleen Solomon, “Covenant Women,” sung by Allie Gardner, 2019).

Matriarchs of Faith—Past and Present

I am grateful for the opportunities I have had to develop the skill to find the influence of great women in the scriptures. During a period of life that was completely overwhelming for me I drew upon Sariah’s example for courage. This mother of two nations, a woman of wealth, left the comforts of her Jerusalem home and the land of their inheritance to suffer the perils of desert and ocean life. When you think of the details those journeys would entail, it is almost inconceivable in scope. Her resolve to trust in the Lord at all cost and her immediate course correction when she faltered—when her sons went back to obtain the Plates of Laban, and she thought they had perished (1 Nephi 5:1-6)—inspired me through my difficult journey.

Lehi takes plates

President M. Russell Ballard has also said “There is nothing in this world as personal, as nurturing, or as life changing as the influence of a righteous woman” (“Mothers and Daughters,” Ensign, May 2010). When we develop our spiritual power through covenant keeping and ministering in a higher holier way, we become women of strength and fortitude, and our influence is vital today!

I am inspired by the lives of my scripture sisters, my faithful African sisters, as well as good and faithful women past and present. My faithful mother and mother-in-law reflected righteousness and charity throughout their lives and are now influencing their third generation. Women who have developed their spiritual power bless our lives, and I will eagerly continue to develop the skill to find their influence.