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President Eyring teaches new mission leaders: ‘Converted missionaries convert others’

President Eyring teaches new mission leaders: ‘Converted missionaries convert others’

PROVO, Utah — “Conversion” for full-time missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can mean more that just bringing new members into the Church — but also converting themselves and their peers with stronger testimonies and commitments to keep commandments and covenants.

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, focused on converted missionaries converting others during his message to start the second day of the four-day 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders, on Friday, June 24, at the Provo Missionary Training Center.

“My message to you mission leaders is to encourage you to make the deep conversion of your missionaries a continuing priority,” he said. “It will have a multiplying effect that will change your mission and the futures of your missionaries.”

Read more talk summaries and see photos from the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders here

He reminded the new mission presidents and companions that they were prepared for their missions in large part by their conversions, and they now have a special stewardship over the missionaries called to serve under them. “Your conversion will allow you the power to see their potential for lifting and converting others. And you will find joy in their continuing conversion.”

President Eyring began by recounting his typical experience when — as a member of the First Presidency and assigned by the President of the Church — he extends a call to a couple as a new president and companion, to lead one of more than 400 missions worldwide.

In issuing the call, he asks the two to tell him the story of their lives, starting with the wife. “It begins to be not only a story but a testimony,” he said. “She testifies of the Savior touching and guiding their lives.”

The husband’s story, he added, is how the Lord has shaped his life and led him to a sure conversion of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and also to his eternal companion.

“Man and wife united in teaching me as a missionary companionship, with love in their voices and faith in their words,” President Eyring said.

After issuing their calls — him as a mission president and her as his companion and a full-time missionary — President Eyring explains why he took time to look into their eyes and listen intently.

“It was so I could bear testimony to them that the Spirit had confirmed to me that the Lord had prepared them personally and had called them as His missionaries,” he said. “I promise that they should never fear. They were called by the Lord, who knows all their strengths and weaknesses. He knows the trials ahead for them. He will go before them, and with the Lord ahead, nothing is impossible.”

Because of the couple’s conversation, they could not keep from testifying to me, he explained. “I am an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, and yet they were teaching me and deepening my appreciation of what the Holy Ghost has confirmed to me from childhood. Their conversion led them to testify and thus deepen my own conversion.”

President Eyring added that the new mission leaders will see — if they watch for it — the same effect of conversion: converted missionaries converting others. “They cannot stop doing it. Converted missionaries do so naturally. That is why those mission leaders I called testified so easily to me.”

Mission leaders participate in the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

Mission leaders participate in the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

A similar effect is described in the Book of Mormon, with the four sons of Mosiah witnessing the appearance of an angel to Alma the Younger — the start of their conversion.

He read from Mosiah 27, how Alma the Younger and the four sons of Mosiah traveled through all the land, sharing what they had heard and seen, preaching the word of God and being greatly persecuted by unbelievers. Still, “they did impart much consolation to the church, confirming their faith” and “were instruments in the hands of God in bringing many to the knowledge of the truth, yea, to the knowledge of their Redeemer” (Mosiah 27:32-36).

Even after that great missionary service, the four sons of Mosiah went to their father, the king, to plead for an even more challenging mission — to teach the word of God to their brethren, the Lamanites.

Said President Eyring: “You will discover that at the heart of every effective missionary is a sincere concern for the eternal soul of our fellow men and women. The depth of the conversion of these sons of Mosiah increased their desire and power to convert others. And yet they did even more that would deepen their conversion as they accepted their mission transfer.”

He pointed out in Alma 17 their inspired missionary training plan — fasting much and praying much to be joined by the Spirit of the Lord. The same chapter shares the result of their efforts — being visited with, comforted by and encouraged by the Lord’s Spirit.

President Eyring encouraged the mission leaders to balance the competing demands of their time and energy but not overlook the importance of helping to convert their missionaries. “My suggestion is that by increasing conversion among missionaries, you can do more to solve problems than if you give attention to problem-solving.”

He encouraged the new leaders to start early in increasing the conversion of missionaries.

One example was with the arrival of new missionaries, all at different stages of their own conversions — some new converts to the Church, others with scant gospel understanding, little experience with covenant keeping or fragile faith. And others will be deeply converted.

President Eyring encouraged mission presidents to faithfully seek revelation in assigning trainers and new companions — “you will know that every assignment will create a cascade of changes” — and to discern their level of conversion and faith as well as that of their companion or trainer.

“The temptation will be to choose the high baptizer or the socially attractive companions as the trainer or companion,” he said. “My prayer for your newcomers, and for you, is that you will be inspired to give them deeply converted and loving disciples of Jesus Christ. If you are inspired to do that often enough, it will make a lasting change in your mission and in the life of the new arrival.”

That is what happened for President Eyring as a young missionary — an assignment that he said changed his life.

“My assigned companion loved the Lord. He had faith in spiritual power in me beyond what I saw in myself. He was so deeply converted that he brought the Spirit into everything we did. We taught by the Spirit.

“We taught and baptized a young man who, when I lifted him up out of the font, water streaming down his face, said, ‘I’m clean, I’m clean.’

“His conversion had begun because of the conversion of my missionary companion and my own.”

He challenged the new leaders to create similar opportunities within their missions. “If you presidents qualify for the inspiration to assign missionaries to those who are converted, you will swell the number of deeply converted missionaries. And those who are more converted will not only baptize, but they will also convert others, both missionaries and those they teach.”

Believing that converted missionaries are driven to convert others, mission presidents may use that in shaping a training plan, President Eyring said. He cited “Preach My Gospel” a perfect template for such a plan, with its emphasis on faith, the Atonement of Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, the Restoration and the Book of Mormon.

“They each have great power to create deep conversion and lasting testimony.”

President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, addresses mission leaders during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022.

President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, addresses mission leaders during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Friday, June 24, 2022.

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

A mission training plan will have its greatest effect when the mission president and companion are examples for those who train among the missionaries, President Eyring said.

“Like those of your missionaries, your testimonies are never static,” he said. “Your deepening conversion is a lifelong process. As a couple, even with all your demanding work, you can help each other, as missionary companions. You can lift each other in conversion and testimony. You can build each other’s faith in the Savior and in the living prophet.

“As you do, you will feel an increase in love and trust for your missionaries. You will have an assurance that the Lord watches over them, your mission, you and your family.”

President Eyring concluded by leaving his blessing: “That your missionaries will find joy in their enduring conversion and the conversion of those they bring to be baptized. They will become the Lord’s missionaries for a lifetime — and beyond. I bless you as couples with that same joy, for yourselves, your children and your grandchildren.

“I give you my sure witness that Jesus is the Christ. This is His Church. He called you. He loves you. I love you. May God be with you in your service to Heavenly Father’s children.”

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