LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson once explained an effective way we can each share the gospel and help bring the blessings of eternal life to those around us. He said: “Our missionary experiences have to be current. It is not enough to sit back and ponder former experiences. To be fulfilled, you have to continue to naturally and normally share the gospel.” (emphasis added, “Status Report on Missionary Work: A Conversation with Elder Thomas S. Monson” Ensign, Oct. 1977)
As a full-time missionary, what is natural and normal will vary from what it is before or after your mission. On your mission, you have a calling, you have been set apart as a representative of Christ, you wear a white shirt and tie and a name tag, and therefore approaching strangers, opening your mouth, and having spontaneous religious discussions can be completely natural and normal. As a member spontaneous religious discussions with complete strangers would likely not be natural and normal. Natural and normal ways of sharing the gospel as an everyday church member do occur, but generally under different circumstances.
In his April 2012 General Conference talk, Was It Worth It?, Elder David F. Evans expounded on the theme natural and normal ways to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. Said he:
“The work of naturally and normally sharing the gospel with those we care about and love will be the work and joy of our lives. Let me tell you about two such experiences.
Dave Orchard grew up in Salt Lake City, where most of his friends were members of the Church. They were a great influence on him. In addition, Church leaders in his neighborhood constantly invited him to activities. His friends did the same. Even though he didn’t join the Church at that time, his growing-up years were blessed by the influence of good LDS friends and Church-sponsored activities. After he entered college, he moved away from his home, and most of his friends left on missions. He missed their influence in his life.
One of Dave’s high school friends was still home. This friend was meeting every week with his bishop in an effort to put his life in order and be able to serve as a missionary. He and Dave became roommates, and as would be both natural and normal, they talked about why he wasn’t then serving as a missionary and why he was meeting frequently with the bishop. The friend expressed his gratitude and respect for his bishop and the opportunity to repent and serve. He then asked Dave whether he would like to come to the next interview. What an invitation! But in the context of their friendship and circumstances, it was both natural and normal.
Dave agreed and was soon meeting with the bishop himself. This led to Dave’s decision to meet with the missionaries. He received a testimony that the gospel is true, and a date for his baptism was set. Dave was baptized by his bishop, and a year later, Dave Orchard and Katherine Evans were married in the temple.”
“…Sister Eileen Waite attended the same stake conference where Dave Orchard told of his conversion experience. Throughout the conference, all she could think of was her own family and particularly her sister, Michelle, who had long been away from the Church. Michelle was divorced and trying to raise four children. Eileen felt impressed to send her a copy of Elder M. Russell Ballard’s book Our Search for Happiness, together with her testimony, which she did. The very next week a friend told Eileen that she too had felt that she should contact Michelle. This friend also wrote Michelle a note, sharing her testimony and expressing her love. Isn’t it interesting how often the Spirit works on several people to help one in need?
Time passed. Michelle called Eileen and thanked her for the book. She said that she was beginning to recognize the spiritual void in her life. Eileen told her that she knew that the peace she was seeking could be found in the gospel. She told her that she loved her and wanted her to be happy. Michelle began to make changes in her life. Soon she met a wonderful man who was active in the Church. They married and a year later were sealed in the Ogden Utah Temple. Recently her 24-year-old son was baptized.
…The end of this story has not yet been written, but blessings have been given to this wonderful woman and her family as those who love her acted on a prompting and in a natural and normal way shared their testimony and invited her to come back.
I have thought a lot about these two experiences. One young man who was working to put his own life in order helped another young man who was seeking the truth. One woman shared her testimony and her faith with her sister who had been away from the Church for 20 years. If we will pray and ask Heavenly Father who we can help and promise to act on the promptings He gives us letting us know how we can help, He will answer our prayers and we will become instruments in His hands to do His work. Acting in love upon the promptings given by the Spirit becomes the catalyst.
As you have listened to these experiences of naturally and normally sharing the gospel with those you care about, many of you have had the same experience that Eileen Waite had. You have thought of someone to whom you should reach out and either invite to come back or share with him or her your feelings about the gospel of Jesus Christ. My invitation is to act, without delay, on that prompting. Talk to your friend or family member. Do it in a natural and normal way. Let them know of your love for them and for the Lord.”