Members asked to increase efforts

An urgent need for members to climb to higher levels of missionary activity has been expressed by leaders of the Missionary Executive Council.

Elder David B. Haight of the Council of the Twelve and chairman of the Missionary Executive Council, in comments given to the Church News, called for members to share the gospel with the many people who have become acquainted with the Church and who have a high interest in the Church.He also said that it is important to teach children when they are very young to share the knowledge they have received with other people. Children can touch the hearts of adults as well as the hearts of other children.

He told of Lindsey Robb, 9, daughter of Jay and Julie Robb of Charlottesville, Va., who was visiting with her friend. Lindsey later called home and received permission to stay overnight, and asked for her pajamas and scriptures.

The family she visited began asking questions about the Church, and the father asked if she could get him a copy of the Book of Mormon. Lindsey, who hasn't missed a day of reading the scriptures since she was 8, answered their questions and loaned her scriptures. The following Sunday, Lindsey and her mother obtained from the missionaries a copy of the Book of Mormon and a video. In the Book of Mormon, Lindsey wrote, "I know this is true. If you pray about it, you will know it is true, too." Lindsey left the book with her friend's mother, and started to leave. But her friend's father came running out of the house. He gave Lindsey a hug and thanked her for sharing her beliefs. The family asked the missionaries to teach them about the gospel and later received the missionary lessons.

Regarding members' relationships with their friends, Elder L. Aldin Porter of the Presidency of the Seventy and executive director of the Missionary Department, told the Church News: "Faithful members do well in setting an example. . . . They are cultivating the soil to receive the seed - the word of God."

He said, "President David O. McKay was filled with prophecy when he coined the phrase, `Every member a missionary.' While this is a popular phrase, the prophecy has not yet been fulfilled.

"Each one of us must do more to reach out to our non-member family and friends by strengthening our relationships with them, setting examples of true Christian living, talking with them about the gospel, and inviting them to participate in the missionary discussions."

He said members can be more effective in planting seeds of the gospel by actually talking to their non-member friends about the gospel, sharing the Book of Mormon, and inviting non-members to hear the missionary discussions.

"We should seek to open [our] mouths, (see D&C 33:10), talking to non-member friends and relatives about the gospel in spite of fear or reluctance. As we do so, we shall have this sacred promise:Open your mouths and they shall be filled.' (D&C 33:8.) We will experience great blessings as we heed this counsel of the Lord."

According to a Missionary Department survey, such obstacles as fear or reluctance that stand between members and their non-member friends in the United States are largely unfounded, said Sherman M. Crump, managing director of the Missionary Department.

Rather, surveys determined that generally, inviting a friend to learn more about the Church strengthens a relationship, rather than threatening it, he said. Many times, friends are interested in learning more. "Of all the converts in a recent year, 77 percent had close LDS friends and relatives."

In addition, he said, high percentages of the U.S. population of 257 million are becoming familiar with the Church, and "there is a high interest in knowing about the Church."

In fact, 36.4 percent of the people in the United States already have an acquaintance, friend or relative who is a member of the Church. About 25.7 percent of this population have visited a temple grounds, meetinghouse, Church historic site or visitors center. One-third of the population have been visited by Church representatives.

"When non-member friends say `no,' that is just for now because fully 60 percent of those who say no are possibly willing to meet with the missionaries later," said Brother Crump. "And 80 percent say they are willing to participate in some friendshipping activities right now.

"The population of the United States generally sees us as a friendly people. And they see us as devoted to our families." He suggested that these two points are important starting places from which members could well introduce "our commitment to Christ and His teachings."

The perception of Latter-day Saints as a friendly people who care about families comes from observations of members by others, and from the Church's Homefront Series of public announcements, he said.

As Church membership has grown and media presentations have continued, the two have increased the awareness among the population concerning the Church. Such activities as the upcoming missionary open house link those two points in such a way that members can easily invite their friends, he said. (See related story on this page.)

One stake where members have enjoyed success in sharing the gospel is the Bountiful Utah Orchard Stake, under Pres. Mark S. Francom. The stake mission president in the Bountiful Orchard stake is Scott H. Hogan of the Orchard 6th Ward. About 25 converts a year come into the Church in the stake, he said.

Experience as stake mission president has changed his life. "I try to teach by example," he said. "Missionary work will be part of my life for eternity."

He added, "Until I received this calling, I didn't understand how simple and how important missionary work is. The rewards are incredible."

Seeing the change that comes into a life when a person is baptized is a great experience, he said.

Ted F. Powell, ward mission leader of the Orchard 7th Ward, also commented on the rewards of member missionary work.

"The missionary gets his reward seeing people change for the better, seeing the lights turn on for them as he teaches them something new and seeing the peace of mind come over them as they embrace the gospel."

Ward members have been a great help as they welcome investigators and less-active members to ward activities. "They are just taking these people into their hearts and social activities," he said.

Wilford Boren, ward mission leader in the Orchard 12th Ward and a recently released bishop, said ward members are sensitive to the needs of new members, and the ward's gospel essentials and elders quorum classes help support these members.

His companion, James Williams, who went through the temple with his wife for the first time last year, describes that event as "the greatest thing I've ever done."

Brother Williams said that when he and his wife were married 25 years ago, he promised her that he'd overcome his Word of Wisdom problems and take her to the temple. "In my heart, I always knew it was right," he said. But the problem was a tough one to solve.

Eventually, a "wonderful home teacher who came every month for eight years and never gave up" helped him over the problem.

"I was scared when they called me as stake missionary," Brother Williams said. "But I can relate to people and the problems they have."

Seeing people make progress, and feeling the Spirit working as people make progress in the Church is rewarding, said Brother Williams. "We have a good feeling as we leave their homes. I love this calling."

Additional Information

Missionary open house to be telecast April 24

A missionary program featuring Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Council of the Twelve will be telecast over the Church's satellite network on Sunday, April 24, according to a letter to priesthood leaders from President Howard W. Hunter of the Council of the Twelve.

The program will be broadcast in conjunction with local open houses held under the direction of the stake presidency.

The half-hour program will be telecast three times during the evening, at 4:10 p.m., 6:10 p.m., and 8:10 p.m. MDT, and local priesthood leaders will have the choice of time with which to participate. The local open house is to begin on the hour with an opening song and prayer, and then include the video.

The program and arrangements are similar to The True and Living God, which was broadcast in October 1993.

The program is to be recorded at the local level. It will not be broadcast over KBYU-TV, nor will the video production be available later through the distribution center.

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