President Monson: Be `bridge builders' in sharing the truth

President Thomas S. Monson urged priesthood holders Saturday evening to "be bridge builders to the hearts of those with whom we labor."

"If we build it, they will come," he said at the priesthood session, referring to a line from the movie "Field of Dreams."President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of the nearly 55,000 full-time missionaries in the Church. "Theirs is a bridge-building task awesome to behold and somewhat overwhelming to contemplate. These missionaries go forward with faith. They know their duty. They understand that they are a vital link between the persons they will meet as missionaries and the teaching and testifying they will experience as they bring others to the truth of the gospel.

"They yearn for more persons to teach. They pray for the essential help each member can give to the conversion process."

He said studies show that most of those who embrace the message of the missionaries have had previous exposures to the Church. "We as members should be at our best," he added. "Our lives should reflect the teachings of the gospel and our hearts and voices ever be ready to share the truth."

President Monson said each new convert should be provided a calling in the Church to bring interest, stability and growth. He told the experience of Elder Jacob de Jager, General Authority emeritus, whose first calling as a new convert was to put hymnbooks in place along the pews for meetings. "Though he had many demanding responsibilities as a General Authority, he never forgot his first calling in the Church."

The unseen hand of the Lord guides the efforts of those who strive to learn and live the gospel, President Monson said.

He told of a letter he received as a mission president from one of his missionaries in Canada. It related that a young couple with two children had accepted the invitation to be baptized, but were worried about how the wife's parents, who lived far away, would react to their decision. She jotted them a note explaining their decision and expressing hope they would understand and even welcome missionaries to their home. Unbeknownst to her, the parents had already accepted the gospel from missionaries, and they wrote to the young couple explaining their decision. President Monson said when the letters were recieved on the same day, a telephone call was made, and there was a long-distance embrace with many tears of joy shed.

New members as well as those who have drifted from full activity need fellowshipping, President Monson said, adding: "They need friends with testimonies. They need to know that we truly care for the one."

Saying that miracles are within the grasp of Aaronic Priesthood quorum advisers and Young Women teachers, he asked: "Who is the teacher you best remember from your youth? I would guess that in all probability it was the one who knew your name, who welcomed you to class, who was interested in you as a person and who truly cared. When a leader walks the pathway of mortality with a precious youth alongside, there develops a bond of commitment between the two that shields the youth from the temptations of sin and keeps him or her walking steadfastly on the path that leads onward, upward and unswervingly to eternal life. Build a bridge to each youth."

Regarding reactivation of prospective elders, he cited stakes that have been successful and said four principles have prevailed: The reactivation opportunity was handled at the ward level, the bishop of the ward was involved, qualified and inspired teachers were provided and attention was given to each individual.

"In building a bridge to the investigator, the new convert, or the less-active member, when we do our part the Lord does His."

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