Inspiration from God: President Monson’s Story of Peter Mourik and the Frankfurt Germany Temple

The following is one of my favorite stories from the recent October 2011 General Conference. It is about Peter Mourik speaking at the dedication of the Frankfurt Germany Temple and was related by President Thomas S. Monson during his Sunday morning talk called Stand in Holy Places.

I am always humbled and grateful when my Heavenly Father communicates with me through His inspiration. I have learned to recognize it, to trust it, and to follow it. Time and time again I have been the recipient of such inspiration. One rather dramatic experience took place in August of 1987 during the dedication of the Frankfurt Germany Temple. President Ezra Taft Benson had been with us for the first day or two of the dedication but had returned home, and so it became my opportunity to conduct the remaining sessions.

On Saturday we had a session for our Dutch members who were in the Frankfurt Temple district. I was well acquainted with one of our outstanding leaders from the Netherlands, Brother Peter Mourik. Just prior to the session, I had the distinct impression that Brother Mourik should be called upon to speak to his fellow Dutch members during the session and that, in fact, he should be the first speaker. Not having seen him in the temple that morning, I passed a note to Elder Carlos E. Asay, our Area President, asking whether Peter Mourik was in attendance at the session. Just prior to standing up to begin the session, I received a note back from Elder Asay indicating that Brother Mourik was actually not in attendance, that he was involved elsewhere, and that he was planning to attend the dedicatory session in the temple the following day with the servicemen stakes.

As I stood at the pulpit to welcome the people and to outline the program, I received unmistakable inspiration once again that I was to announce Peter Mourik as the first speaker. This was counter to all my instincts, for I had just heard from Elder Asay that Brother Mourik was definitely not in the temple. Trusting in the inspiration, however, I announced the choir presentation and the prayer and then indicated that our first speaker would be Brother Peter Mourik.

As I returned to my seat, I glanced toward Elder Asay; I saw on his face a look of alarm. He later told me that when I had announced Brother Mourik as the first speaker, he couldn’t believe his ears. He said he knew that I had received his note and that I indeed had read it, and he couldn’t fathom why I would then announce Brother Mourik as a speaker, knowing he wasn’t anywhere in the temple.

During the time all of this was taking place, Peter Mourik was in a meeting at the area offices in Porthstrasse. As his meeting was going forward, he suddenly turned to Elder Thomas A. Hawkes Jr., who was then the regional representative, and asked, “How fast can you get me to the temple?”

Elder Hawkes, who was known to drive rather rapidly in his small sports car, answered, “I can have you there in 10 minutes! But why do you need to go to the temple?”

Brother Mourik admitted he did not know why he needed to go to the temple but that he knew he had to get there. The two of them set out for the temple immediately.

During the magnificent choir number, I glanced around, thinking that at any moment I would see Peter Mourik. I did not. Remarkably, however, I felt no alarm. I had a sweet, undeniable assurance that all would be well.

Brother Mourik entered the front door of the temple just as the opening prayer was concluding, still not knowing why he was there. As he hurried down the hall, he saw my image on the monitor and heard me announce, “We will now hear from Brother Peter Mourik.”

To the astonishment of Elder Asay, Peter Mourik immediately walked into the room and took his place at the podium.

Following the session, Brother Mourik and I discussed that which had taken place prior to his opportunity to speak. I have pondered the inspiration which came that day not only to me but also to Peter Mourik. That remarkable experience has provided an undeniable witness to me of the importance of being worthy to receive such inspiration and then trusting it—and following it—when it comes. I know without question that the Lord intended for those who were present at that session of the Frankfurt Temple dedication to hear the powerful, touching testimony of His servant Brother Peter Mourik.

My beloved brothers and sisters, communication with our Father in Heaven—including our prayers to Him and His inspiration to us—is necessary in order for us to weather the storms and trials of life.

Counseling with Our Councils

Counseling with Our Councils by M. Russell BallardCounseling With Our Councils: Learning to Minister Together in the Church and in the Family by Elder M. Russell Ballard is one of the best Church books I’ve read. Though it’s not directly related to mission prep, I wanted to share my thoughts about it with you anyway.

Leadership and Problem Solving Pattern

One of the most important things I learned from the book were principles of leadership and problem solving. As I analyzed several of the stories in the book, I discovered what appeared to be an effective pattern of problem solving advocated by Elder Ballard for use by Church councils (and elsewhere). To be clear, this pattern is not explicitly outlined in the book. This is my personal interpretation based on examples throughout the book. The steps in the pattern are:

  1. Problem Awareness: A feeling, data, or other symptoms of a problem are revealed.
  2. Problem Escalation: An event occurs (could be a superior telling you to do something or it could be realization of consequences) that drives you to address the problem.
  3. Problem Assignment: The appropriate people are assigned to investigate the problem.
  4. Problem Discussion: Open and honest conversation is held to get ideas out. Questions are asked, facts and opinions are considered.
  5. Problem Definition: The root problem is clearly articulated and outlined.
  6. Solution Alternatives: Brainstorm potential solutions that are specific and measurable. Discuss them. Evaluate them. Focus on desired results.
  7. Solution Determination: Decide on the best solution. Communicate the decision to and get buy in from people who will have to implement the solution.
  8. Solution Implementation: Do it.
  9. Results Analyzed: Return and report. Make sure the solution is solving the problem.

I have turned these steps into a PowerPoint presentation called Effective Problem Solving through Councils and posted it on SlideShare. Please go there to view or download it. Additionally below are some of my favorite quotes from the book:

How the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Counsel Together

“During discussion, they do not push their own ideas but try to determine from the discussion what would be best for the kingdom.”

“They always work from an agenda. The agenda is distributed to each member of the Twelve the night before the meeting so that they have an opportunity to read, ponder, and consider each item in preparation for the meeting.” (p. 47)

“They are men of strong character, men from different backgrounds–they are certainly not “yes” men. They speak as they are moved by the Spirit.”

“When the President of the Twleve senses a unity taking place concerning the item on the agenda,he may ask for a recommendation …[which] summarizes the feelings of the total Council.” (p. 48)

Local Presiding Councils

“Generally, Church leaders teach principles, not practices. Inspired stake, ward, and family council members learn to convert principles into appropriate practices through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost.” (p. 59)

“Functioning successfully as a council doesn’t mean making group decisions. It simply means the council leader draws from the various abilities, insights, experiences, and inspiration of council members to help make good decisions under the influence of the Spirit. While we seek unanimity, the final decision is always up to the council leader.” (p. 68)

“One young bishop I know was taught this important concept…We had lots of great activities, and our meetings were always well planned and executed…but we didn’t seem to be accomplishing anything of real, lasting significance in the lives of the members of our ward. We were so busy being busy.” (p. 71)

“The principle thing that should matter most to all Church councils:bringing souls to Christ and securing them with spiritual witness and testimony.” (p. 75)

“Councils are for counsel and the exchange of ideas, not just reports and lectures. Free and open discussion is critical…Leaders should work to establish a climate conducive to such openness where every person and group is important and every opinion is valuable.” (p. 112)

Women’s Involvement in Councils

“A wise stake president or bishop will see his auxiliary presidents as spiritual leaders rather than as organizers and party planners. Too many women leaders are underutilized and unappreciated, at times because priesthood leaders don’t have a clear understanding or an enlightened view of the significant contribution the sisters can make.” (p. 92)

“In one such meeting when we were talking about the worthiness of youth to serve missions, President Elaine Jack, then serving as the Relief Society general president, said, ‘You know, Elder Ballard, the sisters of the Church may have some good suggestions on how to better prepare the youth for missions if they were just asked. After all, you  know, we are their mothers!'” (p. 94)

Specific Measurable Outcomes

In Elder Ballard’s section on holding effective meetings and he talked about the need to focus on “specific, measurable” outcomes. He said, “ when an assignment is delegated, it should normally be communicated in terms of ‘what’ rather than ‘how’; that is, the person receiving it should be accountable for the result to be achieved rather than the specific methods used. This allows him or her to seek inspiration and to exercise creativity…in accomplishing the task that has been delegated.” P. 125

Family Councils

“Family rules and procedures are more likely to be accepted and followed if all family members have been given the opportunity to participate in the discussions and agree to the rules” (p. 155)

In “the family council, the things that really matter are loving motivations, an atmosphere that encourages free and open discussion, and a willingness to listen to the honest input of all council members–as well as to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit as it comes to confirm truth and direction.” (p. 157)

“Governance through councils is more than just a good idea; it is God’s plan.” (p. 169)

 

 

Mission Prep from General Conference October 2011

Thomas S. Monson, Mormon ProphetThomas S. Monson: Dare to Stand Alone

“Once we have a testimony, it is incumbent upon us to share that testimony with others. Many of you brethren have served as missionaries throughout the world. Many of you young men will yet serve. Prepare yourselves now for that opportunity. Make certain you are worthy to serve.”

“May we ever be courageous and prepared to stand for what we believe, and if we must stand alone in the process, may we do so courageously, strengthened by the knowledge that in reality we are never alone when we stand with our Father in Heaven.”

L. Tom Perry: Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear

“Speak up about the Church. In the course of our everyday lives, we are blessed with many opportunities to share our beliefs with others. When our professional and personal associates inquire about our religious beliefs, they are inviting us to share who we are and what we believe.”

“Today’s “manner of conversation” seems to involve the Internet more and more. We encourage people, young and old, to use the Internet and the social media to reach out and share their religious beliefs.”

“I promise you that if you will respond to the invitation to share your beliefs and feelings about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, a spirit of love and a spirit of courage will be your constant companion, for “perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18). This is the time of expanding opportunities to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with others. May we prepare ourselves to take advantage of the opportunities given to us to share our beliefs.”

Russell M. Nelson: Covenants

“Ours is the seed foreordained and prepared to bless all people of the world. That is why priesthood duty includes missionary work. After some 4,000 years of anticipation and preparation, this is the appointed day when the gospel is to be taken to the kindreds of the earth. This is the time of the promised gathering of Israel. And we get to participate! Isn’t that exciting? The Lord is counting on us and our sons—and He is profoundly grateful for our daughters—who worthily serve as missionaries in this great time of the gathering of Israel.”

Jeffrey R. HollandWe Are All Enlisted

“I am looking tonight for missionaries who will not voluntarily bind their tongues but will, with the Spirit of the Lord and the power of their priesthood, open their mouths and speak miracles.”

“In this battle between good and evil, you cannot play for the adversary whenever temptation comes along and then expect to suit up for the Savior at temple and mission time as if nothing has happened. That, my young friends, you cannot do. God will not be mocked.”

“The Lord has drawn lines of worthiness for those called to labor with Him in this work. No missionary can be unrepentant of sexual transgression or profane language or pornographic indulgence and then expect to challenge others to repent of those very things!”

“My young friends, we need tens of thousands of more missionaries in the months and years that lie ahead. They must come from an increased percentage of the Aaronic Priesthood who will be ordained, active, clean, and worthy to serve.”

“We need thousands of more couples serving in the missions of the Church. Every mission president pleads for them. Everywhere they serve, our couples bring a maturity to the work that no number of 19-year-olds, however good they are, can provide.”

“What greater gift could grandparents give their posterity than to say by deed as well as word, “In this family we serve missions!””

W. Christopher Waddell: The Opportunity of a Lifetime

“Prophets, seers, and revelators assign missionaries under the direction and influence of the Holy Ghost. Inspired mission presidents direct transfers every six weeks and quickly learn that the Lord knows exactly where He wants each missionary to serve.”

“Through your devoted service and willing sacrifice, your mission will become holy ground to you. You will witness the miracle of conversion as the Spirit works through you to touch the hearts of those you teach.”

“Arrive on your mission with your own testimony of the Book of Mormon, obtained through study and prayer…Arrive on your mission worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost…Arrive on your mission ready to work.”

Kazuhiko YamashitaMissionaries Are a Treasure of the Church

“I would like to express my sincere love, respect, and feeling of thankfulness for all the returned missionaries who have served around the world. I am sure that those you helped convert have not forgotten you…I am one of those converts. I was converted at 17, when I was a high school student…When I was 17, I didn’t really have a good understanding of the messages that the missionaries had been teaching me. However, I had a special feeling about the missionaries, and I wanted to become like them. And I felt their deep and abiding love.”

“I would now like to say a few words to the missionaries currently serving missions around the world. Your attitudes and the love that you show toward others are very significant messages. Even though I didn’t immediately grasp all the doctrines that the missionaries taught me, I felt of their great love, and their many acts of kindness taught me important lessons. Your message is a message of love, a message of hope, and a message of faith. Your attitude and your actions invite the Spirit, and the Spirit enables us to understand the things that are important. What I want to convey to you is that through your love, you are imparting the love of God. You are a treasure of this Church. I am so very thankful to all of you for your sacrifice and your dedication.”

“I also would like to talk to you future missionaries… It is necessary to bring three things with you on your mission: 1. A desire to preach the gospel. The Lord wants you to search for His sheep and seek them out. People all over the world are waiting for you. Please go quickly to where they are. No one strives harder than missionaries to go to the rescue of others. I am one of those rescued. 2. Develop your testimony. The Lord requires your “heart and a willing mind.” 3. Love others, just like Elder Swan, who brought his father’s coat and his father’s love for Japan and its people with him on his mission.”

“And for those of you who don’t know how to prepare to serve a mission, please go and see your bishop. I know that he will help you.”

David O. McKay’s Life Long Example of Missionary Work

David O. McKay Childhood Home Huntsville UtahToday I visited Huntsville, Utah and the childhood home of our ninth LDS Church President in these latter days, David O. McKay. While there, we read a little bit about his life and teachings, and I was struck by the great example of missionary work that he exhibited throughout his life.

Age 8: Helped His Family While His Father Served a Mission

“When [David O. McKay] was eight years of age, his father received a call to go on a mission. To accept such a call for two or three years away from home was no easy decision to make. Another baby was on its way, and plans had been made to enlarge the house and furnishings. The responsibilities of running the farm were too great to be left to his wife, so when David showed the letter calling him to a mission, he said: ‘Of course it is impossible for me to go.’ Jennette read the letter, looked at her husband, and said decisively: ‘Of course you must accept; you need not worry about me. David O. and I will manage things nicely!’ . . .In the absence of his father, the boy David quickly redirected his energies to chores and farm work. Circumstances thus helped to produce a maturity beyond his physical years” (Llewelyn R. McKay, Home Memories of President David O.Young David O. McKay, about age five McKay [1956], 5–6).

Age 23: Mission to Scotland

When he was 21, David O. McKay entered the University of Utah where he debated, played the piano in a musical group, and played on the football team. There he Emma Ray Riggs, whom he later married. He graduated in 1897 as president and valedictorian of his class and was offered a teaching position. He also, at that time, received a call to serve a mission. The call of the Lord to serve as a missionary may have came at an inconvenient time, but he left all that was dear to him and went to his ancestral Scotland.

Whate’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part

Whate’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy PartWhile serving in Stirling, Scotland, David O. McKay had an experience that affected the remainder of his life. He and his companion had been in the town for a few weeks, but had had little success. They spent part of a day walking around Stirling Castle and Elder McKay was feeling homesick. He later recalled: “As we returned to the town, I saw an unfinished building standing back from the sidewalk several yards. Over the front door was a stone arch, something unusual in a residence, and what was still more unusual, I could see from the sidewalk that there was an inscription chiseled in that arch. I said to my companion: ‘That’s unusual! I am going to see what the inscription is.’ When I approached near enough, this message came to me, not only in stone, but as if it came from One in whose service we were engaged: ‘Whate’er Thou Art, Act Well Thy Part.’ “I turned and walked thoughtfully away, and when I reached my companion I repeated the message to him. “That was a message to me that morning to act my part well as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is merely another way of saying . . . ‘Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.’ (Matt. 7:21.)” (Cherished Experiences from the Writings of David O. McKay, comp. Clare Middlemiss [1955], 174–75).

He resolved that he would act well the part of a committed missionary. The stone was later acquired by the Church and is now in the David O. McKay exhibit in the Museum of History and Art next to Temple Square.

Age 47: Missionary Travels Around the World

In December 1920, Elder David O. McKay left on a world tour that helped shape his experience and prepared him to preside over unprecedented growth in Church membership. “Presidents Heber J. Grant, Anthon H. Lund, and Charles W. Penrose, and several of the Apostles laid their hands upon President McKay’s head and blessed him and set him apart as ‘a missionary to travel around the world’ and promised him that he should be ‘warned of dangers seen and unseen, and be given wisdom and inspiration from God to avoid all the snares and the pitfalls that may be laid for his feet’; that he should also ‘go forth in peace, in pleasure and happiness and to return in safety to his loved ones and to the body of the Church,’ he has experienced the protecting care of our Heavenly Father in all his global ministry” (Clare Middlemiss, comp., in McKay, Cherished Experiences, 37).

Age 77: Sustained as President of the Church

David O. McKayOn April 9th, 1951, David O. McKay was sustained as the ninth President of the Church during general conference. On that day, he said: “It is just one week ago today that the realization came to me that this responsibility of leadership would probably fall upon my shoulders. . . “When that reality came, as I tell you, I was deeply moved. And I am today, and pray that I may, even though inadequately, be able to tell you how weighty this responsibility seems.” Soon after being called as the prophet, he set out on a tour of missions around the world. He eventually traveled over a million miles, traversing the earth like a modern Paul. Missionary work accelerated as every member was encouraged to participate in missionary efforts.

Age 85:  Every Member a Missionary

In the April General Conference of 1959, President McKay said: “In 1923 in the British Mission there was a general instruction sent out to the members of the Church advocating… ‘Throw the responsibility of the Church that in the coming year of 1923 every member will be a missionary. Every member a missionary. You may bring your mother into the Church, or it may be your father; perhaps your fellow companion in the workshop. Somebody will hear the good message of the truth through you.’ And that is the message today,” President McKay said, extending the challenge to that 1959 audience. “Every member—a million and a half—a missionary!” (Conference Report, Apr. 1959, 122.)

May we all follow the example of this great modern day prophet. Be willing to sacrifice all that is necessary to serve a full-time mission. Be a member missionary and dedicate our lives to the building up of the kingdom of God.

Here are a couple of good videos on the life of President David O. McKay:

Missionary Service Requires Sacrifice – The Sid Going Rugby Story

Also see the Mormon Messages for Youth video on Sid Going called Your Day for a Mission

Below is the transcript from Elder Neil L. Andersen’s April 2011 General Conference talk, Preparing the World for the Second Coming:

“Missionary service requires sacrifice. There will always be something you leave behind when you respond to the prophet’s call to serve.

“Those who follow the game of rugby know that the New Zealand All Blacks, a name given because of the color of their uniform, is the most celebrated rugby team ever. 3 To be selected for the All Blacks in New Zealand would be comparable to playing for a football Super Bowl team or a World Cup soccer team.

“In 1961, at age 18 and holding the Aaronic Priesthood, Sidney Going was becoming a star in New Zealand rugby. Because of his remarkable abilities, many thought he would be chosen the very next year for the national All Blacks rugby team.

“At age 19, in this critical moment of his ascending rugby career, Sid declared that he would forgo rugby to serve a mission. Some called him crazy. Others called him foolish. 4 They protested that his opportunity in rugby might never come again.

“For Sid it was not what he was leaving behind—it was the opportunity and responsibility ahead. He had a priesthood duty to offer two years of his life to declare the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel. Nothing—not even a chance to play on the national team, with all the acclaim it would bring—would deter him from that duty.

“He was called by a prophet of God to serve in the Western Canadian Mission. Forty-eight years ago this month, 19-year-old Elder Sidney Going left New Zealand to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

“Sid told me of an experience he had on his mission. It was evening, and he and his companion were just about to return to their apartment. They decided to visit one more family. The father let them in. Elder Going and his companion testified of the Savior. The family accepted a Book of Mormon. The father read all night. In the next week and a half he read the entire Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. A few weeks later the family was baptized.

“A mission instead of a place on the New Zealand All Blacks team? Sid responded, “The blessing of [bringing others] into the gospel far outweighs anything [you] will ever sacrifice.”

“You’re probably wondering what happened to Sid Going following his mission. Most important: an eternal marriage to his sweetheart, Colleen; five noble children; and a generation of grandchildren. He has lived his life trusting in his Father in Heaven, keeping the commandments, and serving others.

“And rugby? After his mission Sid Going became one of the greatest halfbacks in All Blacks history, playing for 11 seasons and serving for many years as captain of the team.

“How good was Sid Going? He was so good that training and game schedules were changed because he would not play on Sunday. Sid was so good the Queen of England acknowledged his contribution to rugby. He was so good a book was written about him titled Super Sid.

“What if those honors had not come to Sid after his mission? One of the great miracles of missionary service in this Church is that Sid Going and thousands just like him have not asked, “What will I get from my mission?” but rather, “What can I give?”

“Your mission will be a sacred opportunity to bring others to Christ and help prepare for the Second Coming of the Savior.

“…Recently while I was visiting the Australia Sydney Mission, do you know whom I found? Elder Sidney Going—the New Zealand rugby legend. Now age 67, he is once again a missionary, but this time with a companion of his own choosing: Sister Colleen Going. He told me of a family they were able to teach. The parents were members but had been less active in the Church for many, many years. Elder and Sister Going helped rekindle the family’s faith. Elder Going told me of the power he felt while standing at the baptismal font next to the father of the family as the oldest son, now holding the priesthood, baptized his younger brother and sister. He expressed the joy of witnessing a united family pursuing eternal life together.

Giving to the LDS Missionary Fund

In last weekend’s General Conference, Church President Thomas S. Monson encouraged members to give to the LDS Church Missionary Fund. This is what he said:

“My brothers and sisters, I thank you for your faith and devotion to the gospel, for the love and care you show to one another, and for the service you provide in your wards and branches and stakes and districts. Thank you, as well, for your faithfulness in paying your tithes and offerings and for your generosity in contributing to the other funds of the Church.

As of the end of the year 2010, there were 52,225 missionaries serving in 340 missions throughout the world. Missionary work is the lifeblood of the kingdom. May I suggest that if you are able, you might consider making a contribution to the General Missionary Fund of the Church” (President Thomas S. Monson, It’s Conference Once Again, April 2011).

What is the LDS Church Missionary Fund?

Many years ago, even before my time on a mission, each missionary paid his or her own actual living expenses. So a mission to Japan, for example, would have been much more expensive than a mission to South America. But in 1990, a new program was introduced to equalize the financial responsibility for each missionary by setting up the Church Missionary Fund. Now, all young missionaries pay a flat monthly rate into that fund, and each missionary is then allocated from that fund what he or she needs for the expenses in their particular mission. This approach has reduced the potential burden on individual missionaries and their families who may have been assigned to work in more expensive areas of the world.

Helping Families Afford a Mission

The Church Missionary Fund is also used to help individuals with financial needs to be able to service a mission. From LDS Philanthropies’ Missionary Fund Donations page…

“There are more than 15,000 young men and women from international areas outside the United States who, at great personal sacrifice, are serving full-time missions in their own lands and in the U.S. Many of these missionaries come from homes where the total family income is less than $1,000 annually. Serving missions, therefore, puts a severe—if not impossible—strain on family finances. Along with family support, the Church expects their local wards and branches to pay what they can. If the family and local support is not sufficient, arrangements can be made for the General Missionary Fund to take care of the remaining expenses associated with missionary service.”

Giving to the LDS Church Missionary Fund

Donating to the Missionary Fund

To donate to the LDS Church Missionary Fund, go to LDS Philanthropies, click on Donate Online, fill out the amount you want to give, and fill out other required information. The website allows you to make payments through all major credit cards and PayPal.

Thank you.

“We Need More Missionaries” Says Elder Nelson

“From time to time we need to remind ourselves why we have missionaries. It is because of a commandment from the Lord, who said: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”

“This commandment is one of many that have been renewed because the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored in its fulness. Missionaries serve now just as they did in New Testament times. The book of Acts describes early missionary labors of the Apostles and other disciples following the Lord’s mortal ministry. There we read of the remarkable conversion and baptism of Saul of Tarsus, who had previously been “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” and persecuting members of the fledgling Church. From such beginnings, Saul became the converted Paul, one of the Lord’s greatest missionaries. The final 15 chapters of the book of Acts report the missionary labors of Paul and his companions.

“In a letter to one of his most trusted companions, Paul wrote to young Timothy, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” That counsel is just as valid for us now as it was then. It applies to our full-time missionaries; it applies equally to each member of the Church. Whether full-time missionaries or members, we should all be good examples of the believers in Jesus Christ.

“Full-time missionaries, some 52,000 and more, serve in 340 missions around the world. They are believers and devoted servants of the Lord. Their purpose is to “invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.”

“Like Timothy, most full-time missionaries are young men. Some are sisters; some are senior missionaries. We love each one! Missionaries serve to make life better for God’s children. Heavenly Father loves every one of His children. After all, He is their Father. He wants to bless them with His greatest gift, that of eternal life. Missionaries so teach wherever they serve. They help people to develop faith in the Lord, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, receive the ordinances of the temple, and endure faithfully to the end. God’s work and glory—“to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man”—is also the sacred work and glory of each missionary.

“We need more missionaries—more worthy missionaries. During His earthly ministry, the Lord told His disciples, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”

“At this morning’s session of general conference, our beloved President Thomas S. Monson made an impassioned plea for each young man of this Church to prepare for missionary service. I hope his entire message will be heeded in every home of the Church.

“To President Monson’s wise counsel, I add my witness. In my family, I have observed the blessings that come to each missionary. Thus far, the number of our children, grandchildren, and their spouses called to serve as full-time missionaries is 49, and that number will continue to increase. In each instance, I have seen the growth in wisdom, maturity in judgment, and flowering of faith that developed in each missionary. They, just as many generations before them, embarked in the service of God to “serve him with all [their] heart, might, mind and strength.” Missionary service has helped to shape their divine destiny.”

(From Be Thou an Example of the Believers, by Elder Russell M. Nelson, October 2010 General Conference)

“Many More” Missionaries: A Plea from President Monson

“May I mention a matter close to my heart and which deserves our serious attention. I speak of missionary work.

“First, to young men of the Aaronic Priesthood and to you young men who are becoming elders: I repeat what prophets have long taught—that every worthy, able young man should prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much. Young men, I admonish you to prepare for service as a missionary. Keep yourselves clean and pure and worthy to represent the Lord. Maintain your health and strength. Study the scriptures. Where such is available, participate in seminary or institute. Familiarize yourself with the missionary handbook Preach My Gospel.

“A word to you young sisters: while you do not have the same priesthood responsibility as do the young men to serve as full-time missionaries, you also make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome your service.

“And now to you mature brothers and sisters: we need many, many more senior couples. To the faithful couples now serving or who have served in the past, we thank you for your faith and devotion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. You serve willingly and well and accomplish great good.

“To those of you who are not yet to the season of life when you might serve a couples mission, I urge you to prepare now for the day when you and your spouse might do so. As your circumstances allow, as you are eligible for retirement, and as your health permits, make yourselves available to leave home and give full-time missionary service. There are few times in your lives when you will enjoy the sweet spirit and satisfaction that come from giving full-time service together in the work of the Master.”

From October 2010 General Conference, Saturday Morning Session, As We Meet Together Again by President Thomas S. Monson.

Sharing the Gospel Online

A couple of years ago, Elder M. Russell Ballard gave a landmark address called Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet.  In the spirit of that address, I am announcing the launch of a new section of Mormon Mission Prep that I’m calling Mormon Share. In Mormon Share (under “Share” in the site top navigation), you will find tools to help you share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ on your Web site, Facebook, a blog or elsewhere.  You will find widgets, badges, code, and other tools to help you quickly and easily begin sharing the gospel online. There is much there now, and in the future I’ll be adding even more.

And while we are on the subject of sharing the gospel online.  Here are some of my favorite excerpts from Elder Ballard’s talk:

The Internet: A Modern Printing Press

“For many of you, if you read newspapers, the chances are you read them on the Internet. Ours is the world of cyberspace, cell phones that capture video, video and music downloads, social networks, text messaging and blogs, handhelds and podcasts.”

“The Lord, over the centuries, has had a hand in inspiring people to invent tools that facilitate the spreading of the gospel. The Church has adopted and embraced those tools, including print, broadcast media, and the Internet.”

Join the Conversation Online

“There are conversations going on about the Church constantly. Those conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches. While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time.”sharing-the-gospel-online

“Now, may I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration. Most of you already know that if you have access to the Internet you can start a blog in minutes and begin sharing what you know to be true. You can download videos from Church and other appropriate sites, including newsroom.lds.org, and send them to your friends. You can write to media sites on the Internet that report on the Church and voice your views as to the accuracy of the reports. This, of course, requires that you understand the basic principles of the gospel. It is essential that you are able to offer a clear and correct witness of gospel truths. It is also important that you and the people to whom you testify understand that you do not speak for the Church as a whole. You speak as one member—but you testify of the truths you have come to know.”

Examples of What You Can Do

“A Church member living in the Midwest of the United States makes a concerted effort to share the gospel every day, in person. He then writes a blog about his daily endeavors to share the teachings of the Book of Mormon and to give pass-along cards to all he meets. His effort to share the gospel so diligently is admirable, and his further effort to write about it no doubt inspires many others to do the same.”

“Others have recorded and posted their testimonies of the Restoration, the teachings of the Book of Mormon, and other gospel subjects on popular video-sharing sites. You too can tell your story to nonmembers in this way. Use stories and words that they will understand. Talk honestly and sincerely about the impact the gospel has had in your life, about how it has helped you overcome weaknesses or challenges and helped define your values. The audiences for these and other new media tools may often be small, but the cumulative effect of thousands of such stories can be great. The combined effort is certainly worth the outcome if but a few are influenced by your words of faith and love of God and His Son, Jesus Christ.”blogging

“The Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ has no doubt had a powerful impact on your life. It has, in part, shaped who you are and what your future will be. Do not be afraid to share with others your experiences as a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ. We all have interesting stories that have influenced our identity. Sharing those stories is a nonthreatening way to talk to others. Telling those stories can help demystify the Church. You could help overcome misperceptions through your own sphere of influence, which ought to include the Internet.”

No need to argue or contend

“As you participate in this conversation and utilize the tools of new media, remember who you are—Latter-day Saints. Remember, as the proverb states, that “a soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger” (Proverbs 15:1). And remember that contention is of the devil (see 3 Nephi 11:29). There is no need to argue or contend with others regarding our beliefs. There is no need to become defensive or belligerent. Our position is solid; the Church is true. We simply need to have a conversation, as friends in the same room would have, always guided by the prompting of the Spirit and constantly remembering the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ, which reminds us of how precious are the children of our Father in Heaven.”

Conclusion

“Let your voice be heard in this great cause of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”