It's so good to be updating my blog this week. It's one of those routines that you come to love after a while. Plus, I've been receiving some positive feedback by some of my readers and that's so refreshing. Thank you!
I'm particularly excited because the topic of this week is missionary work! You knew it would happen, didn't you? Missionaries usually can't go so long without talking about missionary work!
Last General Conference Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Twelve titled his talk "Put your trust in the Lord". It's very much member-oriented. It's for both those members who love doing missionary work and for those who struggle a little. Both categories can all take courage from the exhortation contained in the title!
The idea of members sharing the gospel with others in natural, casual ways is not new. The Prophet Joseph Smith loved to talk about missionary work (here are some quotes you can check out) and Elder Ballard reminds us of one of the shortest and plainest of his statements on the matter: "After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel."
Just to mention a few more among the most recent: more than 50 years ago President David O. McKay stated the most famous "Every member a missionary"; about 40 years ago President Spencer W. Kimball challenged us members to "lengthen our stride [and] enlarge a vision." And just a few months ago President Thomas S. Monson reiterated:"Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him. He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and He will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work."
Speaking of the hastening of the Lord's work, in his last conference talk Elder Ballard made it clear that such hastening "in our day [...] can be done only when every member of the Church reaches out with love to share the truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to work together in partnership with our 80,000 missionaries now serving."
That is so so true!
Missionaries are dying to work with members. We do our finding, we try to talk to everyone and bring the gospel to everyone; but members are the key. They have always been. Those wards and branches, stakes and districts that have experienced the most miraculous growths are those whose members have been actively engaged.
Some members hesitate to do missionary work, and Elder Ballard individuates the two major causes for this:
I could go on days reassuring, promising, assuring you all that you needn't fear anything and anyone when you're sharing the gospel, but the words of an apostle will do it better that mine could ever do:
"The first one is fear. Many members do not even pray for opportunities to share the gospel, fearing that they might receive divine promptings to do something they think they are not capable of doing.
"The second reason is misunderstanding of what missionary work is."
If we are all engaged, the Lord will have so many hands through which He can accomplish His wonders, so many mouths through which He can speak to His elect, and so many more eyes to watch over His children, our brothers and sisters.
And here is the challenge for our time and day, for the here and now:
"We are not asking everyone to do everything. We are simply asking all members to pray, knowing that if every member, young and old, will reach out to just “one” between now and Christmas, millions will feel the love of the Lord Jesus Christ. And what a wonderful gift to the Savior."
Elder Ballard quotes from a letter a member sent him to report on his family's effort in sharing the gospel. I have one more testimony to add to that. After Conference I emailed some of my friends and I extended Elder Ballard's challenge to them. I was so happy to read this the following week:
"I took your and Elder Ballard's challenge to talk to people about the gospel, and the first time it happened was the Monday after Conference! I was at work and one of the physician's asked me if I'd had a good weekend. I of course said that I had and he asked what I did. I very easily could have just brushed him off and not gone into any detail about what we did, but I decided to tell him that [my husband]and I watched General Conference, which I explained happens in our Church every October and April where we have the opportunity to watch and listen to the Prophet of our church and other leaders speak to us and give us guidance on how to improve our lives and help others as well. He looked at me kind of weird and said, "Do they ask you for money?" I chuckled and told him no. He then went on to say that he thought it was so cool that we have missionaries who give up two years of their lives to help other people, and he said he thinks all youth in the world should do that because the Mormon's turn out so well. Needless to say, I was a little nervous to tell him about Conference but knew that I'd be guided on what to say and I was. It was a neat experience."
Self-explicative, huh? The persons my friend talked to hasn't become a member (yet!), he hasn't even agreed to meet with the missionaries (yet!), but who can say that my friend failed!
One of my friends on Facebook has been a member of the Church since last January. He loves the gospel, his testimony is very strong. His natural concern for his friends is amazing. He lets the missionaries teach in his home, he goes out with them, he talks with his friends about the gospel and he invites them to talk to the missionaries, to befriend them on Facebook and listen to the message of the restored gospel. Some accept, some don't, and some even ignore the invitation. Can we say that my friend fails when the latter two happen?
Of course we can't choose for others -- we can't force them to accept the invitation to meet with the missionaries, listen to and accept the gospel. Elder Ballard said:
"It is impossible for us to fail when we do our best when we are on the Lord’s errand. While the outcome is a result of the exercise of one’s agency, sharing the gospel is our responsibility."From personal experience I can assure you of one thing: the more we share, the more we like to share. The more we share the gospel, the stronger our testimony grows. There are just so many reasons why we want to be involved in our Father's work!
Let us heed our prophet's counsel and Elder Ballard's exhortation. Let us all seek to find the one!
And that's all for this week.
Bye for now!