Seminar for mission presidents: Prophet and patriarch


Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve marked the 168th anniversary of the martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith by speaking of the remarkable missionary companionship that existed between the two brothers.

"I know of no greater missionary companionship that has served in this dispensation," he said on the final day of the 2012 Seminar for New Mission Presidents. "Much can be learned by our missionaries in following the example of these prophets. They were men of integrity, loyalty, courage, trust, faith and unwavering testimony."

A descendant of Hyrum Smith, Elder Ballard focused his remarks on the Smith brothers and their final moments together leading up to their June 27, 1844, deaths at the hands of a mob at Carthage Jail.

"One hundred sixty-eight years ago today almost to the very hour, these prophet brothers gave their lives and sealed their testament of all that God and Jesus Christ had revealed in restoring the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world."

Elder M. Russell Ballard says the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum formed a remarkable mis
Elder M. Russell Ballard says the Prophet Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum formed a remarkable missionary companionship. | Intellectual Reserve Inc.

All who know of the great and eternal principles for which Joseph and Hyrum gave their lives surely must stand in awe of their courageous faith and are inspired by the "testimony of truth" that was sealed with their blood, he added.

Elder Ballard called Joseph and Hyrum Smith "men of peace, brothers and missionary companions" who were bound by their love for God and each other. "Although Hyrum was six years older, he recognized Joseph's sacred and holy calling, and he stood by his younger brother faithfully throughout his life — and in death."

The two brothers sustained and supported each other through dramatically difficult times, including unjust incarcerations and during their march to Zion's Camp where both were near death with cholera.

"As a result of such experiences, Joseph came to depend upon Hyrum just as all missionaries should depend on one another," said Elder Ballard.

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve. | Intellectual Reserve Inc.

During their service together, Joseph and Hyrum were able to face mobs and persecutions knowing they would eventually escape and return to their families. But at Carthage, the time had come for the two to voluntarily lay down their lives, sealing their testimonies with their blood.

"And so Joseph and Hyrum spent the last few days of their mortal lives together as prisoners in Carthage, brothers and missionary companions to the very end," he said.

Years later, President Joseph F. Smith — the son of Hyrum Smith and a nephew to the Prophet Joseph — saw in a prophetic vision the two brothers continuing their missionary labors in the Lord's kingdom.

"They stand together there, just as they stood together here and in Carthage," said Elder Ballard. "In eternity they have joined forces with other prophets and patriarchs to complete their great and eternal work."

Today, the missionaries of the Church are called to go into the world to declare the message of the Restoration of the fullness of Christ's gospel.

"No missionary should ever fail to understand and appreciate the great price others have paid to establish once again the Church of Jesus Christ upon the earth. No assignment or challenge of any missionary should hold him or her back from boldly declaring the gospel truths that are ours to share.

"Joseph was called to his work [Doctrine and Covenants 1:17] by the Lord, just as you and your missionaries have been called to yours — by the Lord through His prophet."

None of the missionaries serving today will be called upon to go through what Joseph and Hyrum did — but all can learn from these two powerful missionaries about how to support one another.

"All of your missionaries need to devote themselves to this great cause," he said. "They can learn the power of the message of the Restoration. They can learn the attributes and skills that it takes to be fearless disciples of the Master. They can learn and practice the principles of success found in Preach My Gospel."

— Jason Swensen

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed