Missionary Work: Sharing What Is in Your Heart

Missionary Work: Sharing What Is in Your Heart


My dear brothers and
sisters, dear friends, last month the Twelve were
invited by our dear prophet, President Russell
M. Nelson, to travel with him to the dedication
of the Rome Italy Temple. While traveling, I thought
about the Apostle Paul and his journeys. In his day, to get
from Jerusalem to Rome, it would have taken
about 40 days. Today, in one of my
favorite airplanes, it takes less than 3 hours. Bible scholars
believe that Paul was in Rome when he wrote
several of his letters, which were key in strengthening Church
members then as well as today. Paul and the other members
of the ancient Church, the early-day Saints,
were intimately familiar with sacrifice. Many were severely
persecuted, even unto death. In the last 200
years, the members of the restored Church of Jesus
Christ, the Latter-day Saints, have also experienced
persecution in many forms. But in spite of that persecution
(and sometimes because of it), The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints has continued to grow and is
now found all across the globe. There is much to do. However, before we bake
a cake, throw confetti, and congratulate ourselves
on this remarkable success, we would do well to put that
growth into perspective. There are roughly seven
and a half billion people in the world, compared to
some 16 million members of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints–a very small flock indeed. Meanwhile, the numbers
of Christian believers in some parts of the
world are shrinking. Even in the Lord’s restored
Church–while overall membership continues to
grow–there are too many who do not claim the blessings of
regular Church participation. In other words, wherever
you are on this earth, there are plenty
of opportunities to share the good news of
the gospel of Jesus Christ with people you meet, study, and
live with or work and socialize with. During this past year, I have
had the exciting opportunity to be deeply involved with the
worldwide missionary activities of the Church. I have often pondered and
prayed about the Savior’s great commission to His disciples–us,
His children–to “go ye therefore, and
teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of
the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” I wrestled with
the question “How can we, as members and
disciples of Christ, best fulfill that great
commission in our daily lives?” Today I invite you to
ponder that same question in your heart and mind. Church leaders have emphasized
the clarion call “Every member a missionary!” for decades. Members of the Church of Jesus
Christ–both in past times as well as in ours–have
enthusiastically and joyfully shared the gospel with
friends and acquaintances. Their hearts are aflame with
the testimony of Jesus Christ, and they sincerely want
others to experience the same joy they have found
in the Savior’s gospel. Some members of the Church
seem to have a gift for this. They love being
ambassadors of the gospel. They boldly and
gladly serve and lead the work as member missionaries. However, others of
us are more hesitant. When missionary work is
discussed in Church meetings, heads are slowly lowered until
submerged behind the pew, eyes focused on the scriptures
or closed in deep meditation to avoid eye contact
with other members. Why is this? Maybe we feel guilty for not
doing more to share the gospel. Perhaps we feel uncertain
about how to do it. Or we might feel timid about
going outside our comfort zone. I understand this. But remember, the Lord
has never required expert, flawless
missionary efforts. Instead, “the Lord requireth
the heart and a willing mind.” If you are already happily
doing missionary work, please continue, and stand
as one example to others. The Lord will bless you. If, however, you feel that you
have been dragging your feet when it comes to sharing
the gospel message, may I suggest five
guilt-free things anyone can do to participate in the
Savior’s great commission to help gather Israel? First, draw close to God. The first great
commandment is to love God. It is a primary reason
why we are on this earth. Ask yourself, “Do I really
believe in Heavenly Father?” “Do I love and trust Him?” The closer you draw to
our Heavenly Father, the more His light and joy
will shine from within you. Others will notice that there
is something unique and special about you. And they will ask about it. Second, fill your heart
with love for others. This is the second
great commandment. Try to truly feel and
see everyone around you as a child of God. Minister to them–regardless
of whether their names appear on your ministering
sister or brother list. Laugh with them. Rejoice with them. Weep with them. Respect them. Heal, lift, and strengthen them. Strive to emulate the love
of Christ and have compassion for others–even to those
who are unkind to you, who mock you and wish
to cause you harm. Love them and treat
them as fellow children of Heavenly Father. Third, strive to walk
the path of discipleship. As your love for God and
His children deepens, so does your commitment
to follow Jesus Christ. You learn about His way
by feasting upon His word and heeding and applying the
teachings of modern prophets and apostles. You grow in
confidence and courage to follow His way
as you communicate with Heavenly Father with
a teachable, humble heart. Walking the path of discipleship
takes practice–each day, little by little, “grace for
grace,” “line upon line.” Sometimes two steps
forward and one step back. The important thing is
that you don’t give up; keep trying to get it right. You will eventually
become better, happier, and more authentic. Talking with others
about your faith will become normal and natural. In fact, the gospel will be
such an essential, precious part of your lives that it
would feel unnatural not to talk about it with others. That may not happen
immediately–it is a lifelong effort. But it will happen. Fourth, sharing what
is in your heart. I am not asking that
you stand on a street corner with a
megaphone and shout out Book of Mormon verses. What I am asking is that you
always look for opportunities to bring up your faith in
natural and normal ways with people–both in person
as well as online. I am asking that you stand
as a witness of the power of the gospel at all times–and
when necessary, use words. Because “the gospel
of Christ … is the power of God
unto salvation,” you can be confident,
courageous, and humble as you share it. Confidence, courage,
and humility may seem like contradictory
attributes, but they are not. They reflect the
Savior’s invitation not to hide gospel values
and principles under a bushel but to let your light shine,
that your good works may glorify your Father in Heaven. There are many normal
and natural ways to do this, from
daily acts of kindness to personal testimonials on
YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, to
simple conversations with people you meet. This year we are learning from
the New Testament in our homes and in Sunday School. What a marvelous opportunity
to invite friends and neighbors to church and your homes
to learn about the Savior with you. Share with them the
Gospel Library app, where they can find Come, Follow Me. If you know young people
and their families, give them the For the
Strength of Youth booklet, and invite them to come and
see how our young people strive to live by those principles. If someone asks
about your weekend, don’t hesitate to talk about
what you experienced at church. Tell about the
little children who stood in front of a congregation
and sang with eagerness how they are trying
to be like Jesus. Talk about the group
of youth who spent time helping the elderly
in rest homes to compile personal histories. Talk about the recent change
in our Sunday meeting schedule and how it blesses your family. Or explain why we emphasize
that this is the Church of Jesus Christ and that we are
Latter-day Saints, just as the members of the ancient
Church were also called Saints. In whatever ways seem
natural and normal to you, share with people why
Jesus Christ and His Church are so important to you. Invite them to “come and see.” Then encourage them
to come and help. There are numerous
opportunities for people to help in our church. And pray not only for the
missionaries to find the elect. Pray daily with all
your heart that you will find those who
will come and see, come and help, and come and stay. Keep the full-time
missionaries in the loop. They are like angels,
ready to help! As you share the good news,
the gospel of Jesus Christ, do so with love and patience. If we interact with people
with the sole expectation that they soon will
don a white jumpsuit and ask for directions to
the nearest baptismal font, we’re doing it wrong. Some who come and see will,
perhaps, never join the Church; some will at a later time. That is their choice. But that doesn’t change
our love for them. And it doesn’t change
our enthusiastic efforts to continue inviting
individuals and families to come and see, come and
help, and come and stay. Fifth, trust the Lord
to work His miracles. We heard a wonderful message
from Elder Hales about this. Understand that it’s not
your job to convert people. That is the role
of the Holy Ghost. Your role is to share
what is in your heart and live consistent
with your beliefs. So don’t be discouraged
if someone does not accept the gospel message immediately. It is not a personal failure. That is between the individual
and Heavenly Father. Yours is to love God and love
your neighbors, His children. Believe, love, do. Follow this path, and God
will work miracles through you to bless His precious children. These five suggestions
will help you to do what disciples
of Jesus Christ have done since ancient times. His gospel and His Church are
an important part of your life and of who you are
and what you do. Therefore, invite others to
come and see and come and help, and God will do His saving work,
and they will come and stay. “But,” you might ask, “what
if I do all this and people react poorly? What if they are critical
about the Church? What if they unfriend me?” Yes, that may happen. Since ancient times,
disciples of Jesus Christ have often been persecuted. The Apostle Peter
said, “Rejoice … as you share
Christ’s sufferings.” The early Saints
rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to
suffer shame for his name.” Remember, the Lord works
in His mysterious ways. It may be that by your
Christlike response to rejection, a hardened
heart could be softened. As an Apostle of the
Lord Jesus Christ, I bless you with the confidence
to be a living testimonial of gospel values,
with the courage to always be recognized as a
member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day
Saints, with the humility to assist in His
work as an expression of your love for Heavenly
Father and His children. My dear friends,
you will rejoice in knowing that you
are a significant part in the long-foretold
gathering of Israel, preparing Christ’s coming
in “power and great glory; with all the holy angels.” Heavenly Father knows you. The Lord loves you. God will bless you. This work is ordained of Him. You can do this. We can all do this together. I so testify in the name
of Jesus Christ, amen.

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