The world is almost throbbing as it waits to hear the gospel message that God lives, said Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve as he addressed a seminar of newly called missionary training center presidents.
Elder Haight, chairman of the Missionary Executive Council, spoke to eight new presidents and their wives Jan. 16, the concluding address of the five-day seminar held at the Missionary Training Center here. The eight new presidents are called for a two-year period, and will head half of the Church's 16 such centers located in 15 countries.Elder Haight was accompanied by his wife, Ruby, and leaders of the Missionary Department, including Elder Earl C. Tingey of the Presidency of the Seventy and executive director of the Missionary Department. Sister Joanne Tingey accompanied her husband.
"As we stand back and figuratively look at the globe - this big round earth - it is almost pulsating like your heart would be; it is beating because of all the activity, waiting for somebody to come and declare that there is a Father in the heavens, that He is our Father, that we are children of God, His sons and daughters," said Elder Haight.
He challenged the leaders to "make giants out of all of the missionaries; try to save every one. Teach them well to testify to every nation, kindred, tongue and people.
"You'll take those young men and women whose hearts will be pounding and beating with wonderment. They will wonder how will they do missionary work, and who will train them.
"Plant in them the seed to do missionary work, and to do it well.
"We have confidence in you," he continued. "These young hearts and souls will come under your influence, and they'll be affected by you, they'll watch you to see what you do and what you say, and how you treat each other as husband and wife, because you will be representing the Church.
"They will rise to heights we know not of as a result of being in your care."
Elder Haight said that in the whole history of the Church, there has never been a year to match 1997 in bringing the Church out of obscurity. "I have seen the influence and majesty of this work. There isn't anything to compare with it on this earth."
He encouraged the leaders to work with great love, and used as an example his being called as an apostle by President Spencer W. Kimball, who said: "With all the love that I possess, I'm calling you to fill the vacancy on the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles."
"I've thought of this hundreds of times," reflected Elder Haight. "He did not use authoritarian language - he did not say As the president of the Church.' He did not sayAs the prophet.' He did not say As the presiding high priest.' He said,With all the love that I possess.' I have tried to understand what he was saying to me. I have tried to have some concept of what a great individual, and what a great servant and great prophet he was and is.
"That loving ingredient in the Church is difficult to really explain. It is that feeling that we have toward one and another, the feeling the Savior talked about: `Love one another.' Loving one another is being concerned . . . hoping we can communicate properly, that we can convey to someone else that which is in our heart and mind. There's a love about this work, about the scriptures, about the teachings, about the way we say it, the way we shake hands and when we look at people. There is something about it that draws us together; there is a bonding of our hearts and our souls."
Noting that 1998 is the 20th anniversary of the revelation on the priesthood, Elder Haight told of his experience of being in the temple "at the time President Kimball received the revelation."
"This was in 1978, I was the new member of the Quorum of the Twelve." He said a great deal of study and research had preceded that date, and that President Kimball was "having a restless period in his life regarding the restrictions that had been placed upon some males from holding the priesthood.
"The day arrived that the research had been completed. We had met previously several times in the temple, studying and discussing and having testimonies regarding the way the Brethren felt about putting the matter before the Lord.
"There were 10 of the Twelve present - Brother [Delbert L.] Stapley was sick in the hospital, and Elder Mark E. Petersen was in South America."
Elder Haight said President Kimball pled with the Lord in prayer to make His mind and will known. "I was in the room . . . and was a witness to an outpouring of the Spirit. It was so powerful that none of us could speak. We felt a presence in the room. We didn't hear a voice, we only felt the Spirit.
"The Spirit was so powerful after President Kimball's prayer that we went quietly to our dressing rooms and no one said a word. We went back to our offices and no one spoke.
"The revelation that is now in the Doctrine and Covenants was announced the next day."
In his remarks, Elder Tingey spoke of the fundamental considerations of missionary work.
He counseled the new leaders to use their spiritual experiences and abilities as they train the new missionaries, but to never veer away from the approved course.
He cited scriptures in John 15:5,16, where the Savior counseled: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit. . . ." and "Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain. . . ."
Elder Tingey said the fruit mentioned refers to converts, and that converts should continue to progress after baptism.
"President Hinckley is redefining the retention of converts in activity to the entire Church," he said.
He described the great efforts put forth to find and baptize converts, and noted that the eternal implications of retaining converts in activity are very serious.
"We do not have to reduce the number of converts to retain converts," he emphasized.
He said that those who want to be baptized must be humble, desire to be baptized, be repentant with a broken heart and contrite spirit, show by their attendance at Church, by their prayers and by reading the Book of Mormon that they are changing their lives.
"There is a difference," noted Elder Tingey, "between someone's willingness to join the Church and their worthiness. Sometimes we focus too much on their willingness."
Elder Tingey said that converts must have both a doctrinal and social conversion. "They must have new friends in the Church. Members must help in this social conversion."