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Elder Soares teaches mission leaders about the ‘magnificent ordinance of baptism’

PROVO, Utah — Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told new mission presidents and their wives on Thursday afternoon, June 23, that they are now taking part “in the most important work that is happening on the earth.”

Speaking at the Provo Missionary Training Center, his address was delivered with a voice of experience, having been called to preside over the Portugal Porto Mission with his wife, Sister Rosana Soares, 22 years ago. He said his assignment for the mission leaders seminar was to teach about baptizing converts as part of the gathering of Israel.

“Being baptized by immersion and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by one having authority constitute two of the ordinances of salvation that are necessary for individuals to come into the fold of God and be called His people,” Elder Soares taught. “As the Book of Mormon uniquely teaches, baptism is primarily the way we witness to God of our repentance and commitment to follow Jesus Christ.”

Because of this, Elder Soares said, baptizing converts in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “one of the most relevant elements of the gathering of Israel.”

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

Elder Soares explained simply that the Savior provided an example to all of God’s children through His own baptism. Jesus said why baptism is necessary, when talking with Nicodemus. And after His Resurrection, He told the disciples to baptize those they taught. When He appeared in the Americas, He also taught the importance of baptism. Finally, in this dispensation, and as part of the ongoing Restoration, the Savior taught Joseph Smith about the ordinance of baptism.

“The ordinance of baptism is prominent in the doctrine of Christ and is embedded in the teachings of the Lord’s prophets,” Elder Soares said. “Baptizing God’s children is central to the gathering of Israel.”

Missionaries have a calling, Elder Soares said, “to testify of Jesus Christ and to invite people to come unto Him and walk the path He has defined by His doctrine to reach exaltation in the celestial kingdom.”

Elder Soares then taught two principles pertaining to the “magnificent ordinance of baptism.”

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addresses mission leaders during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints addresses mission leaders during the 2022 Seminar for New Mission Leaders on Thursday, June 23, 2022.

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

1. Missionaries understand Christ’s redeeming power through their own baptismal covenants

Elder Soares taught the new mission leaders that their missionaries have “the responsibility to live by what they teach.”

He said they need to honor their baptismal covenants just as they hope their converts will. And he said they will gain strength when they do so.

“When missionaries strive to live in harmony with the promises they made when they were baptized, they strengthen their faith, knowledge and testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

2. Missionaries help provide access to the Savior’s redeeming power through repentance and baptism

Elder Soares showed a photo that quickly captured his audience’s attention.

While many of the Church’s chapels around the world have baptismal fonts, not all do. And not all baptisms take place in an area where fonts are available. This was the case recently in Papua New Guinea.

A nearby river was the best spot for two individuals who had accepted the gospel of Jesus Christ to be baptized. However, in addition to the worthy priesthood holders and witnesses who had to be present, this baptism also required some additional help. Some of the local men arrived with axes, machetes and a spear to fend off crocodiles that frequented the area, Elder Soares explained.

“What motivated these people to face this perilous circumstance to get on the covenant path?” he asked. “It was the lasting change of heart they experienced through their faith, their sincere desire to repent and be cleansed from their sins, and their deep faith that the Lord would bless them with greater happiness, joy and peace as they made their baptismal covenant with Him.”

The change of heart those new converts experienced came as part of a genuine repentance process.

“Repentance involves trusting Jesus, humbly yielding to the Spirit, having a sincere and lasting change of heart, desiring to forsake sin, and doing good continually by submitting to God’s will to serve Him,” Elder Soares said.

“These actions prepare people to make and keep sacred covenants. If our missionaries are loving and bold in helping people understand what they must do to have faith in Christ and repent, people will definitely find joy and peace through their journey on the covenant path. These actions will help God’s children put off the ‘natural man’ and ‘natural [woman]’ and become Saints ‘through the atonement of Christ the Lord’ (Mosiah 3:19).”

Complete conversion

As he concluded, Elder Soares testified of the blessings that come from knowing the doctrine and acting in accordance with that knowledge.

“When well understood, the doctrine of Christ can change how missionaries live and direct their efforts to accomplish their purpose,” he said. “I testify to you that through exercising faith in Christ, repenting, being baptized, receiving the Holy Ghost and committing to serve Christ, people can experience healing, forgiveness of sins and complete conversion to the Savior and His gospel.”

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