One of the most important and most constant tasks you must do as a missionary is to continually open your mouth. Open your mouth and testify of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Open your mouth and give testimony of Joseph Smith and his First Vision of God the Father and his Son. Open your mouth and testify of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. (See Bring Souls unto Me, by Elder L. Tom Perry, May 2009 Ensign)
Open Your Mouth: A Commandment to Missionaries
The Doctrine and Covenants is replete with scriptures commanding missionaries to open their mouths and preach the gospel. Almost always those scriptures contain a promise from the Lord that they will be blessed to know what to say if they take that step of faith and open their mouth. Here are a few:
- D&C 24:12, Oliver Cowdery is called to preach the gospel and the Lord says, “At all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night.”
- D&C 28:16, again, to Oliver Cowdery the Lord says “And thou must open thy mouth at all times, declaring my gospel with the sound of rejoicing.”
- D&C 30:11, John Whitmer is called to preach the gospel and the Lord says, “Yea, you shall ever open your mouth in my cause, not fearing what man can do, for I am with you.”
- D&C 33:10, to Ezra Thayre and Northrop Sweet the Lord says it three times: verse 8 “Open your mouths and they shall be filled,” verse 9 “Open your mouths and spare not,” and again in verse 10 “Open your mouths and they shall be filled.”
- D&C 60:2, to the elders of the Church the Lord says, “But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man.”
- D&C 71:1, to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon the Lord says, “it is necessary and expedient in me that you should open your mouths in proclaiming my gospel…according to that portion of Spirit and power which shall be given unto you, even as I will.”
Opening Your Mouth is Difficult but Necessary
For many missionaries this commandment to “open your mouth” is not easy, which is probably why the Lord mentions it again and again in the scriptures. Many missionaries, including myself as a young missionary, are shy and unsure of themselves. Many are called in preach the gospel in lands where they don’t speak the native language. The excuses for not opening your mouth as a missionary are many but all are rooted in “the fear of man” rather than trust in God. As noted in the scriptures above, when missionaries open their mouths to declare the gospel the Lord will be with them and help them know what to say. But it is not until missionaries take that necessary step that the Lord will use them as an instrument in his hands.
The most common way for missionaries around the world to open their mouths is by knocking on doors or tracting. In Argentina we did some door knocking, but not a lot. The primary way in which we opened our mouths in my mission was talking to people on the bus or in the street. In Argentina, the missionaries didn’t have cars or bikes for transportation, everywhere we went we either walked or took the bus. This was the case for most other Argentines as well, therefore we constantly came across people in the streets and on the bus. It was difficult for me at first, to strike up a gospel conversation in these instances, but I learned to use both of these methods effectively as a missionary.
During my first couple of weeks in Argentina, I was far too shy and unsure of my language skills to sit down next to a stranger and begin a conversation about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I watched my companion do it time and time again as we rode the bus traveling to teaching appointments or other errands.
After a week or two, my senior companion challenged me to sit down next to someone on the bus and talk to them. Reluctantly, I did it, and my first attempt was actually rather successful. The man I sat down next to was friendly and even gave me his name and phone number so we could come by his home later for more discussions. This interaction gave me additional confidence and I continued opening my mouth to testify to strangers on the bus for the rest of my mission.
Of course not everyone we met on the bus was this nice, many people would not talk to us, would get up and move to another seat, or tried to argue with us (don’t argue with people). Regardless of whether or not my testimony was received, I always tried to open my mouth on the bus and testify of the Lord Jesus Christ and of the message of the restored gospel.
Street contacting is what I would categorize as talking to people in everyday situations in just about any scenario as you go through the day. Talking to people we pass in the streets, or that you bump into at the grocery store, the attendant at the photo store, or any number of other situations. Throughout my mission it took continual effort to open my mouth in these instances, which nearly encompassed the whole day. Of course, wherever you go, you wear that missionary name tag and there is no time off from being a representative of the Lord.
If we missionaries hadn’t opened our mouth, though, and shared our message in everyday situations, we never would have met and baptized the Almada family. The conversion of Juan Carlos Lopez, who we first met in the street, never would have happened without opening our mouths. And the Godoy family, a wonderful couple with two children, were baptized because we struck up a conversation at a photo development store.
“Therefore, verily I say unto you, lift up your voices unto this people; speak the thoughts that I shall put into your hearts, and you shall not be confounded before men; For it shall be given you in the very hour, yea, in the very moment, what ye shall say.” (D&C 100: 5-6) I testify that this is true. Open your mouth every chance you get and testify of the Lord and his restored Church and the gospel message that you carry. If you do, the Lord will bless you with the right words, and he will guide you to the right people, and the Spirit will penetrate the hearts of your listeners and testify of the truthfulness of your words. You will be blessed and the Lord will be able to bless many others as you become an instrument in his hands.