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A prophetic call: Senior Church leaders emphasize missionary service for young men, young women, senior couples


A prophetic call: Senior Church leaders emphasize missionary service for young men, young women, senior couples

In his opening message of April 2022 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson strongly reaffirmed that “the Lord has asked every worthy, able young man to prepare for and serve a mission.” He further emphasized that for “young and able sisters, a mission is also a powerful, but optional, opportunity.”

In the session’s second message, President M. Russell Ballard directed young men, and those young women who desire to serve a mission, to begin right now to talk with their parents about missionary service.

Conference started with a powerful pair of pronouncements — the President of the Church with a prophetic call and the Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offering an apostolic second witness.

‘You are each vital to the Lord’

Saying that the gospel of Jesus Christ has never been needed more than it is today as “the only enduring solution for peace,” President Nelson added that Latter-day Saints have “the sacred responsibility to share the power and peace of Jesus Christ with all who will listen and who will let God prevail in their lives.”

President Russell M. Nelson speaks during the Saturday morning session of general conference on April 2, 2022.

President Russell M. Nelson speaks during the Saturday morning session of general conference on April 2, 2022.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Then came the call to the young men.

“Today I reaffirm strongly that the Lord has asked every worthy, able young man to prepare for and serve a mission,” he said, explaining that missionary service is a priesthood responsibility for Latter-day Saint young men. “You young men have been reserved for this time when the promised gathering of Israel is taking place. As you serve missions, you play a pivotal role in this unprecedented event!”

For the sisters, it was an invitation to consider.

“For you young and able sisters, a mission is also a powerful but optional opportunity,” he said, expressing the Church leaders’ love for them and their wholehearted welcome. “What you contribute to this work is magnificent! Pray to know if the Lord would have you serve a mission, and the Holy Ghost will respond to your heart and mind.”

Reminding his “dear young friends” that “you are each vital to the Lord,” President Nelson said the decision to serve a mission — either proselyting or service — will bless each individual and many others.

He also welcomed senior couples to serve when circumstances permit.

“All missionaries teach and testify of the Savior,” he said. “The spiritual darkness in the world makes the light of Jesus Christ needed more than ever.”

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy W. Nelson, greet missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, greet missionaries in Auckland, New Zealand, on Tuesday, May 21, 2019.

Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Saturday morning session: See photos and read summaries of April 2022 general conference

‘Begin right now’

President Ballard spoke of his service as a young missionary in England. “I testify that my mission is where I came to know that Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ know me and love me.”

President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, is pictured as a young missionary in the British Isles, where he served from 1948 to 1950.

President M. Russell Ballard, acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as a young missionary in the British Isles, where he served from 1948 to 1950.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Similar opportunities await young Latter-day Saints. “The Lord knows you,” President Ballard said. “When you are serving your mission, you will have experiences that will help you come to know Him better. You will grow spiritually in serving Him. …

“He will give you experiences with promptings of the Holy Ghost. The Lord will authorize you to teach in His name. You can show Him that He can trust you and can rely on you.”

“Right now” is the time to begin talking with parents about missionary service and to start making commitments and preparations. “Commit to yourselves and to Heavenly Father that you will serve a mission and that from this time forward you will strive to keep your hearts, hands and minds clean and worthy.”

President M. Russell Ballard speaks during the Saturday morning session of general conference on April 2, 2022.

President M. Russell Ballard speaks during the Saturday morning session of general conference on April 2, 2022.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Ballard recalled that his service as a mission president in Toronto, Ontario, beginning in 1974 came just after President Spencer W. Kimball gave a memorable missionary message titled “When the World Will Be Converted.”

The late Church president shared his vision for how the gospel would be taken to all the world, and he called for many more missionaries from around the world. He underscored the Lord’s expectation “that every man should … lift a warning voice unto the inhabitants of the earth.”

Said President Ballard: “President Kimball’s teaching about the expectation for young men to serve a mission became a topic of conversation in homes all around the world. That expectation has not changed. I am grateful that President Nelson also reaffirmed the Lord’s expectation this coming morning.”

President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Quentin L. Cook Elder and Jeffrey R. Holland of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with wives Sister Mary Cook and Patricia Holland tour an area near the River Ribble in England on Wednesday Oct. 27, 2021. Many converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were baptized in the river through early missionary efforts.

President M. Russell Ballard, Elder Quentin L. Cook Elder and Jeffrey R. Holland of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with wives Sister Mary Cook and Patricia Holland tour an area near the River Ribble in England on Wednesday Oct. 27, 2021. Many converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were baptized in the river through early missionary efforts.

Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

‘My mission completely shaped my life’

The theme of missionary service returned to center stage in the Saturday afternoon session, starting as Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis underscored how serving a full-time mission is key to President Nelson’s call to gather scattered Israel on both sides of the veil.

“The world tries to distract youth from this most sacred responsibility using fear and insecurities,” the General Authority Seventy cautioned, then citing his own obstacles as he prepared for a mission call. 

His dentist tried to dissuade him from serving, the university in which he was enrolled would only give him a one-year deferment despite the two-year call, and he had feelings for and an interest in a certain young woman, knowing his friends did as well and a two-year absence seemed like a great risk.

Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis, General Authority Seventy, speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 192nd Annual General Conference in the Conference Center on April 2, 2022.

Elder Marcos A. Aidukaitis, General Authority Seventy, speaks during the Saturday afternoon session of the 192nd Annual General Conference in the Conference Center on April 2, 2022.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“Serving a full-time mission may seem difficult to us,” Elder Aidukaitus said. “Perhaps it requires that we give up important things for a moment. The Lord certainly knows this, and He will always be by our side.”

He revisited his premission challenges: “My dentist? I found another. My university? They made an exception for me. Remember that young woman? She married one of my good friends.”

But he testified that God truly blessed him, including with the understanding that the Lord’s blessings can come in ways different than what one might expect.

Elder Aidukaitis’ “many rich blessings” included a greater faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, a stronger knowledge and testimony of His teachings, a lost fear of teaching, an increased capacity to face challenges with optimism, and repeated observations that sin doesn’t bring true happiness and obedience to commandments helps one prosper temporally and spiritually.

“All of these things were instrumental in my preparation for adult life, including possible marriage and parenthood, Church service and professional and community life,” he said, explaining that after his mission, he shared the gospel with a young woman who later became his wife.

“My mission completely shaped my life. I learned it is worth the effort to trust in God, to trust in His wisdom and mercy and in His promises. After all, He is our Father, and without any doubt, He wants the best for us.”

When serving a mission, one will be challenged at times, but the Lord is a great exemplar and guide in such circumstances, Elder Aidukaitis said. “He understands what a difficult mission is. With His help, we can do hard things. He will be by our side, and He will bless us greatly as we humbly serve Him.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook Elder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife Sister Mary Cook walk at the River Ribble, England on Wednesday Oct. 27, 2021. Many converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were baptized in the river through early missionary efforts.

Elder Quentin L. Cook Elder of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife Sister Mary Cook walk next to the River Ribble in England on Wednesday Oct. 27, 2021. Many converts to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were baptized in the river through early missionary efforts.

Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

‘Share His gospel in word and deed’

In his message titled “Conversion to the Will of God” at the conclusion of the Saturday afternoon session, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles reiterated President Nelson’s call to service by Latter-day Saint young men and put it in perspective with personal conversion.

Elder Cook then recited the “Standard of Truth,” penned by Joseph Smith in 1842, calling it “the clarion call for generations of Latter-day Saints, especially missionaries: “No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but 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.”

The Apostle added:  “The Lord asks each one of us to share His gospel in word and deed. Our personal conversion includes the responsibility to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with the world.The blessings of sharing the gospel include increasing our conversion to the will of God and letting God prevail in our lives, Elder Cook said. “We bless others to experience ‘a mighty change of heart.’ There is truly eternal joy in helping to bring souls unto Christ.”

Read more April 2022 general conference coverage

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (left arrow) and Elder Quentin L. Cook (right arrow) served as full-time missionaries in England from 1960 to 1962. They were companions during the summer of 1962.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (left arrow) and Elder Quentin L. Cook (right arrow) served as full-time missionaries in England from 1960 to 1962. They were companions during the summer of 1962.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

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