On Dec. 27, 1832, in Kirtland, Ohio, the Lord provided us with a message of peace, including these words to ponder: "Behold, and lo, I will take care of your flocks, and will raise up elders and send unto them. Behold, I will hasten my work in its time" (Doctrine and Covenants 88: 72-73).
Following President Thomas S. Monson's historic announcement in general conference on Oct. 6, 2012, the number of missionary applications has continued to increase. It is a spiritually electrifying time as new missions and missionary training center expansions are announced. This "spirit of the gathering" is all around us and has global impact.
In Elder Russell M. Nelson's inspired words, "The full-time missionary force is growing and these well-prepared young men and women are both eye witnesses and participants in this gathering of people from the world into the fold of Christ. Much is being done to help them in their preparations to serve as worthy, well-prepared disciples of Jesus Christ."
In the beginning pages of Preach My Gospel, the First Presidency's message to missionaries states: "There is no more compelling work than this, nor any which brings greater satisfaction. We challenge you to rise to a new sense of commitment to assist our Father in Heaven in His glorious work."
These invitations to serve, combined with the direction of the Holy Ghost into the hearts and minds of young men and women throughout the world, have resulted in surges among the entire missionary force, but many families have felt this surge within their own homes.
Elder Kyle Idso, 18, and Sister Kaylene Idso, 19, both entered the Provo Missionary Training Center the same day, Jan. 16, 2013. Sister Idso is the oldest child in the Idso home and has always had a desire to serve a full-time mission. In her own words, "When I heard President Monson make the announcement, I first thought of my brother who was 18 years old and could go immediately. Then when President Monson announced the new sisters' age, I was excited to know I could also go now."
Identical twins, Sister Linsey Haas and Sister Jocelyn Haas of Mesa, Ariz., are serving in the California San Bernadino and Pennsylvania Philadelphia Missions respectively. Their 19-year-old sister, Tessa, just received her call to serve in the Idaho Boise Mission. By June of this year, all three of the Haas sisters will be serving missions. Senior couples are also feeling a deeper desire to serve, and many have served multiple missions. Elder Gary Batchelor, former president of the Arkansas Little Rock Mission, and his wife, Sister Kay Batchelor, have 30 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. Following their experiences in Arkansas, they received a call to serve for two years in the Micronesia Guam Mission. They are now in the Provo MTC with their calling to serve 18 months in the Missouri St. Louis Mission.
Entrusted with ushering in this last dispensation, the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1842 described this great Latter-day work: "The truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country and sounded in every ear; till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the great Jehovah shall say the work is done" (History of the Church, 4:540).
How might we be active participants in His "hastening the work?"
Sometimes we complicate the gospel to such an extent that we forget what it's really about. It's about knowing that we have a Heavenly Father who loves us. It's about knowing that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. It's about making covenants. It's about knowing that the gospel was restored on the earth and that we are led by living prophets, seers and revelators. Additionally, it's about teaching the doctrine to one another that we might be instructed more perfectly in the laws of the gospel (see Doctrine and Covenants 88: 77-78).
Elder M. Russell Ballard, in the April 2003 general conference, said, "Remember, we're not marketing a product. We're not selling anything. We're not trying to impress anyone with our numbers or our growth. We are members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, empowered and sent forth by the Lord Himself to find, nourish, and bring safely into His Church those who are seeking to know the truth."
With the increasing number of missionaries throughout the world and greater access to missionaries in every unit of the Church, we will need to do things more effectively. This will include a more steady engagement by our ward councils into the lives of our young men and young women, as well as a more effective approach to reach out to our less-active brothers and sisters.
Spiritual preparation in the home is critically important in preparing to share the gospel. The doctrine of Christ and the lesson plans contained in Chapter 3 of Preach My Gospel can be taught in a simple way even to young children in our family home evenings.
Young minds in a home setting are so teachable. We must be steady in our daily scripture study and also must preserve our Monday evenings for family home evening so that the evening does not turn into just another social gathering or athletic event which might compete with our chance to be with our own children in a well-planned and executed family home evening.
Elder Clayton M. Christensen, a former Area Seventy, tells of many blessings and friendships that come through trying to share the gospel. He reminds us that the Doctrine and Covenants is filled with remarkable promises that God has offered to those who accept His call to share the gospel (see "Seven Lessons on Sharing the Gospel," Ensign, February 2005).
Among the promises given:
- You shall power to declare His word (Doctrine and Covenants 99:2).
- He will go before you face. He will be on your right hand and your left (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88).
- You shall have blessings greater than the treasures of earth (Doctrine and Covenants 19:37-38).
- You will be given a testimony of the words of the prophets (Doctrine and Covenants 21:9).
- He will bear you up as on eagles’ wings (Doctrine and Covenants 124:18)
We have a gift. We should be willing to share it.