Becoming More in Christ: The Parable of the Slope By Elder Clark G. Gilbert
“As a young boy, I had great aspirations. One day after school, I asked, “Mom, what should I be when I grow up: a professional basketball player or a rock star?” Unfortunately, Clark “the toothless wonder” showed no signs of future athletic or musical glory. And despite multiple efforts, I was repeatedly denied admission to my school’s advanced academic program. My teachers finally suggested I should just stick to the standard classroom. Over time, I developed compensating study habits. But it wasn’t until my mission to Japan that I felt my intellectual and spiritual possibilities begin to emerge. I continued to work hard. But for the first time in my life, I systematically involved the Lord in my development, and it made all the difference.”
“…Years ago I served with a group of inner-city youth in Boston, Massachusetts, who were largely new to the gospel and to the expectations of the Church. It was tempting to confuse my empathy and concern for their situation with a desire to lower God’s standards. I eventually realized that the most powerful way to show my love was to never lower my expectations. With everything I knew to do, we focused together on their potential, and each of them began to elevate their slopes. Their growth in the gospel was gradual but steady. Today they have served missions, have graduated from college, have been married in the temple, and are leading remarkable personal and professional lives.”
A Faithful Search Rewarded By Elder Patricio M. Giuffra
“One afternoon, I noticed two young men in dark suits and white shirts entering my neighbor’s home. These young men looked—special. The next day I met my neighbor, Leonor Lopez, and asked her about those two men. Leonor explained that they were missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She joyfully told me that her family was baptized into the Church a year earlier. Seeing my interest, Leonor invited me to meet the missionaries and learn about the Church. Two days later, I joined the Lopez family to meet the missionaries.”
“…Since I was only 14, Elder Messerly insisted we go next door to my home so that my mother could know what they were teaching me. There, he kindly explained that they came to share a message about Jesus Christ and asked for her permission to teach me. Mother agreed and even joined us while they taught me.
“The missionaries first asked Leonor to offer a prayer. This touched me very deeply because her prayer was not a repetition of memorized words but an expression from her heart. I felt she was really talking to her Heavenly Father. The missionaries then taught us about Jesus Christ. They showed a picture of Him that impressed me because it was a picture of the resurrected, living Christ.”
“…It has been almost 45 years since my mother and I first learned the joy and power of having faith in Christ. It was because of their faith in Christ that the Lopez family shared their new faith with me. It was because of their faith in Christ that these two missionaries left their homes in the United States to find my mother and me. It was the faith of all these dear friends that planted a mustard seed of faith in us that has since grown into a mighty tree of eternal blessings.”
The Need for a Church By President Dallin H. Oaks
“Individual spirituality can seldom provide the motivation and structure for unselfish service provided by the restored Church. Great examples of this are the young men and women and seniors who put aside their schooling or retirement activities to accept missionary callings. They work as missionaries to strangers in unfamiliar places they have not chosen. The same is true of faithful members who participate in the unselfish service we call ‘temple work.’ None of such service would be possible without the Church that sponsors it, organizes it, and directs it.”
With the Power of God in Great Glory By Elder David A. Bednar
“On April 6, 1837, the Prophet declared, ‘After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel.’ Almost precisely seven years later, on April 7, 1844, Joseph Smith delivered a sermon known today as the King Follett Discourse. He declared in that address, ‘The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead.’
“But how can preaching the gospel and seeking after our dead both be the single greatest duty and responsibility God has placed upon us? I believe the Prophet Joseph Smith was emphasizing in both statements the fundamental truth that covenants, entered into through authoritative priesthood ordinances, can bind us to the Lord Jesus Christ and are the essential core of the work of salvation and exaltation on both sides of the veil.
“Missionary and temple and family history work are complementary and interrelated aspects of one great work that focuses upon the sacred covenants and ordinances that enable us to receive the power of godliness in our lives and, ultimately, return to the presence of Heavenly Father. Thus, the two statements by the Prophet that initially may appear contradictory, in fact, highlight the focal point of this great latter-day work.”
Quote Graphic: “How can preaching the gospel and seeking after our dead both be the single greatest duty? …Joseph Smith was emphasizing in both statements the fundamental truth that covenants, entered into through authoritative priesthood ordinances, can bind us to the Lord Jesus Christ. …Missionary and temple and family history work are complementary and interrelated aspects of one great work. …Thus, the two statements by the Prophet that initially may appear contradictory, in fact, highlight the focal point of this great latter-day work.”
Addressing Mental Health By Elder Erich W. Kopischke
“Due to severe panic attacks, anxiety, and depression, our son returned home from his mission after just four weeks. As his parents, we found it difficult to deal with disappointment and sadness because we had prayed so much for his success. Like all parents, we want our children to prosper and be happy. A mission was to be an important milestone for our son. We also wondered what other people might think.
“Unbeknownst to us, our son’s return was infinitely more devastating for him. Note that he loved the Lord and wanted to serve, and yet he could not for reasons he struggled to understand. He soon found himself at a point of total hopelessness, battling deep guilt. He no longer felt accepted but spiritually numb. He became consumed by recurring thoughts of death.
“While in this irrational state, our son believed that the only action left was to take his own life. It took the Holy Ghost and a legion of angels on both sides of the veil to save him. While he was fighting for his life and during this immensely difficult time, our family, ward leaders, members, and friends went out of their way to support and minister to us. I have never felt such an outpouring of love. I have never sensed more powerfully and in such a personal way what it means to comfort those in need of comfort. Our family will be ever grateful for that outpouring.
“I cannot describe the countless miracles that accompanied these events. Gratefully, our son survived, but it has taken a long time and much medical, therapeutic, and spiritual care for him to heal and to accept that he is loved, valued, and needed.”
Favored of the Lord in All My Days By Elder Moisés Villanueva
“When I was a young missionary, I remember when a marvelous missionary that I had come to admire received some devastating news. His mother and his younger brother had passed away in a tragic accident. The mission president offered this elder the option to return home for the funeral. However, after speaking with his father on the phone, this missionary decided to stay and finish his mission.
“A short time later, when we were serving in the same zone, my companion and I received an emergency call; some thieves had stolen the bicycle belonging to this same missionary and had injured him with a knife. He and his companion had to walk to the nearest hospital, where my companion and I met up with them. On the way to the hospital, I was grieving for this missionary. I imagined that his spirits would be low and that surely, after this traumatic experience, he would now want to return home.
“However, when we arrived at the hospital, I saw this missionary lying in his bed, waiting to be taken into surgery—and he was smiling. I thought, “How could he be smiling at a time like this?” While he was recuperating in the hospital, he enthusiastically handed out pamphlets and copies of the Book of Mormon to the doctors, nurses, and other patients. Even with these trials, he did not want to go home. Rather, he served until the last day of his mission with faith, energy, strength, and enthusiasm.”
“Says Bishop Cruz, “Cleiton became an example and an influence to other young people.” The first person Cleiton invited back to church was his mother, then his older brother. He then widened his circle to friends. One of those friends was a young man his own age, Wilson. Upon his very first meeting with the missionaries, Wilson expressed his desire to be baptized. The missionaries were impressed and amazed at how much Cleiton had already shared with Wilson.
“Cleiton’s efforts didn’t stop there. He helped other less-active members return, in addition to sharing the gospel with friends of other faiths. Today the ward has 35 active youth, with a thriving seminary program, thanks in large part to Cleiton’s efforts to love, share, and invite. Cleiton and his older brother, Cléber, are both preparing to serve full-time missions.”
I Pray He’ll Use Us By Sharon Eubank
“When the waters finally receded, one shopkeeper in the riverside district of Ahrweiler, Germany, surveyed the damage and was utterly overwhelmed. This humble man, a devout Catholic, whispered a prayer that God might send someone to help him. The very next morning, President Dan Hammon of the Germany Frankfurt Mission arrived on the street with a small band of missionaries wearing yellow Helping Hands vests. The water had reached up to 10 feet (3 m) on the shopkeeper’s walls, leaving behind a deep layer of mud. The volunteers shoveled out the mud, removed the carpet and drywall, and piled everything in the street for removal. The overjoyed shopkeeper worked alongside them for hours, amazed that the Lord had sent a group of His servants to answer his prayer—and within 24 hours!”
Deepening Our Conversion to Jesus Christ By Elder Arnulfo Valenzuela
“What Are Some of the Things That We Will Do If Our Souls Delight in the Scriptures? Our desire to be part of the gathering of Israel on both sides of the veil will increase. It will be normal and natural for us to invite our family and friends to listen to the missionaries.”
To Be a Follower of Christ By Elder Alfred Kyungu
“We served a full-time mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo Mbuji-Mayi Mission from 2016 to 2019. The way to travel in the mission from one zone to another was by road. A phenomenon had arisen in that area with bandits armed with bladed weapons breaking onto the road and disturbing the movement of travelers.
Five missionaries traveling from one zone to another as part of the transfer were victims of these disturbances. Having been victims of this phenomenon ourselves sometimes before, we began to fear for the lives and safety of all of us, even hesitating to travel on these roads to visit the missionaries and hold zone conferences. We did not know how long it was going to last. I drew up a report, which I sent to the Area Presidency, and I expressed my feelings of fear about continuing to travel when the road was the only way to reach our missionaries.
In his reply, Elder Kevin Hamilton, who was our President of the Africa Southeast Area, wrote to me: “My counsel is to do the best you can. Be wise and be prayerful. Do not knowingly put yourselves or your missionaries in harm’s way, but at the same time go forward in faith. ‘For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind’ (2 Timothy 1:7).”
This exhortation greatly strengthened us and allowed us to continue to travel and serve with courage until the end of our mission, because we heard direction from our Father in Heaven through that scripture.”
Hold Up Your Light By Elder Marcus B. Nash
“Years later I made a new friend while in an airport in Lagos, Nigeria. We became acquainted as he checked my passport. I asked him about his religious beliefs, and he expressed strong faith in God. I shared the joy and vibrancy of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and asked if he would like to learn more from the missionaries. He said yes, was taught, and was baptized. A year or two later, as I walked through the airport in Liberia, I heard a voice call out my name. I turned, and that same young man approached with a big smile. We joyfully embraced, and he let me know that he was active in the Church and working with the missionaries to teach his girlfriend….
“Sister Tiffany Myloan accepted the invitation to support the missionaries despite very heavy personal struggles, including questions about her faith. She recently told me that supporting the missionaries has renewed her faith and sense of well-being. In her words, “Missionary work is so healing.” …
“Jimmy Ton, who grew up Buddhist, was impressed by a family who shared their life on YouTube. When he learned that they were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he studied the gospel online by himself, read the Book of Mormon using the app, and was baptized after meeting with the missionaries in college. Elder Ton is now a full-time missionary himself.
He and his fellow missionaries around the world are the Lord’s battalion—to quote our prophet. These missionaries buck the trend of the world: while surveys report that Gen Z is turning away from God, our stripling warrior elders and sisters are turning people to God. And increasing numbers of members of the Church are uniting with the missionaries in sharing the gospel, helping more and more friends to come unto Christ and His Church.
Our Latter-day Saints in Liberia helped 507 friends enter the waters of baptism during the 10 months there were no full-time missionaries serving in their country. When one of our wonderful stake presidents there heard that the full-time missionaries may be returning, he remarked, “Oh good, now they can help us with our work.”
He is correct: the gathering of Israel—the greatest cause on this earth—is our covenant responsibility. And this is our time!”
The Faith to Ask and Then to Act By President Henry B. Eyring
“With faith that they are called by Jesus Christ, missionaries across the world have found ways to rise above the challenges created by a pandemic, doing so with courage and good cheer. And in their extra effort, their faith has grown stronger.”
Invite Christ to Author Your Story By Camille N. Johnson
“A senior couple may ask whether it is time for them to serve a mission and be willing to go, even though the narrative they had written for themselves included more time in the workforce. Or maybe the answer will be “not yet,” and they will learn in later chapters of their story why they were needed at home a little bit longer.”
A House of Sequential Order By Elder Vaiangina Sikahema
“The pandemic has kept hundreds, perhaps thousands of young Tongan missionaries serving around the world from returning to their beloved homeland because of its closed borders. Some Tongan elders have been on their missions for three years and sisters over two years! They wait patiently with the faith for which our people are known. Meanwhile, don’t be too alarmed if some of them serving in your wards and stakes are looking increasingly more like me—aging and gray. We’re grateful for missionaries everywhere for their devoted service, even when longer or shorter than they had anticipated because of the pandemic…
“My home teacher, Ned Brimley, taught me that many aspects and blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ are given to us in sequential order… Ned Brimley punctuated his inspired lesson with a simple statement: “Vai, God’s house is one of order. He expects you to live your life with order. In proper sequence. He wants you to serve a mission before you get married.” To this point, Church leaders currently teach that “the Lord expects each able young man to prepare to serve. … Young women … who desire to serve should also prepare”. Brother Brimley continued: “God wants you to get married before you have children. And He wants you to continually develop your talents as you earn an education.” If you choose to live your life out of sequence, you will find life more difficult and chaotic.”