"If you don't know
where to turn,Listen to your heart,
and you will learn . . . ."
- From Together Forever
"Together Forever," a touching half-hour video that introduces the gospel to non-members, will be televised in eight major cities Jan. 23, and, within the next three months, to every city with a mission headquarters in the United States.
And this video is just one prong of an effort to share the gospel with people in many countries of the world through the media of television, radio, magazines and newspapers, according to the Missionary Department.
The first eight cities where the video will be shown are Anchorage, Alaska; Baton Rouge, La.; Boise, Idaho; Lansing, Mich.; Peoria, Ill.; Rochester, N.Y; Spokane, Wash.; and Tallahassee, Fla.
"Together Forever" is a series of vignettes about family relationships produced for the Missionary Department by Bonneville Media Communications. It recently won the Catholic-sponsored Gabriel Award, and received a "very high" 8 (on a scale of 10) on a Nielsen television survey.
The video is also warmly received by non-members, as indicated by their response on previous showings, according to missionaries. Dubbed "television tracting" by some missionaries, the video is able to reach people who, in many cases, are inaccessible to missionaries. The video touches lives, helping people not only to hear, but also to feel how the gospel can help them, said missionaries.
Members are encouraged to use the videos to introduce the gospel to their friends. According to mission leaders, the Jan. 23 televising of "Together Forever" will give members an opportunity to invite friends into their homes.
In this program, viewers are offered a free audio cassette tape of an earlier video, "Our Heavenly Father's Plan." Mission leaders suggest that members might offer their friends this tape.
In areas where the video is not televised, members might purchase the video and show it to their friends, mission leaders said.
Other efforts by the Missionary Department to communicate the gospel through the media include:
- A half-page magazine advertisement running in alternate issues of TV Guide. The ad offers a copy of the Book of Mormon, and is bringing significant increases in missionary work, according to mission leaders.
-Newspaper advertisements. During 1988, advertisements were published in major cities of Australia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Quito, Ecuador; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Birmingham, England; and Glasgow, Scotland. Newspaper advertisements are planned for several European and Asian cities in 1989.
- Continued seasonal programming, such as "Mr. Krueger's Christmas," "The Other Wise Man," and "The Last Leaf," and public service announcements. In 1987, LDS-produced Christmas programs were shown by 1,457 stations in 25 countries. These Church-produced programs and public service announcements were viewed by upwards of 250 million people.
- Spot radio announcements about the Book of Mormon. These have been used in 15 cities and many responses have been received through them.
Missionary Department spokesmen estimate that a total of some 60 million people have been introduced to direct gospel messages in print and film. Most of the direct gospel messages offer the audio tape, "Our Heavenly Father's Plan," through a toll-free number.
Missionaries are available to deliver the tape in person if requested. Nearly a fourth of those who ask for the tape also invite the missionaries to teach them. In some South American countries, about 70 percent of those who request the tape also ask for missionaries, according to Missionary Department statistics. In all countries, videos are finding new channels to the heart as a number of those introduced to the Church through the media have been baptized.
According to Sherman M. Crump, managing director of the Missionary Department, the videos focus on a single gospel theme: "Through Jesus Christ, Heavenly Father has provided a plan by which families and friends can find peace and happiness."
"We need to more effectively and efficiently dispense the message of the Restoration, and, at the same time, provide additional opportunity for people to investigate the Church," he said.
The high level of quality reached in the Homefront and special programs produced by Bonneville led to the direct gospel message videos, he said.
The message of the gospel can have a powerful influence on the way people feel, he added. "It is the way people feel that leads them toward accepting the gospel.
"The videos are really a wonderful tool for members and missionaries."
In the Phoenix Arizona Mission, for example, where the video was telecast, missionaries "were kept running" to deliver all the tapes that were requested, said Sister Ann Brown, a missionary who helps coordinate the requests by non-members.
"Everyone has been tremendously impressed," she said. "We hear discussions about it around town."
Mission leaders in Phoenix and other cities, including Salt Lake City, where the video has been televised, said that one of the best results has been the confidence members gain by inviting their non-member friends into their homes to see the video.
"It has taught our missionaries to be bold, challenging and testifying missionaries," said Pres. Dale J. Huntsman of the Texas San Antonio Mission. "And it has built our member-missionary relationships. The members are excited, and they are helping us."
Pres. Dale L. Gardner of the Kentucky Louisville Mission said missionaries are excited with the support they receive through the media.
"The media support is really having an impact on the people," he observed. "The responses of the people, through the video and through the Book of Mormon advertisements, have really been overwhelming.
"We've gotten great comments back from non-members who have seen the video about how much they were impressed and how they felt about the message it gave."
He said members in his mission have invited friends into their homes to see the video, and some friends have joined the Church.
He noted that the video was made in such a way that "a referral through the media is not just another referral; it is a referral of someone who really wants to learn about the Church.
"We have a lot of [apartment and condominiumT complexes in this area, where missionaries are not allowed unless they are invited. Through the media, those invitations are coming."
Both "Together Forever" (video, VNVV4112, $6; audio cassette, VVOT4257, $1) and "Our Heavenly Father's Plan" (video, VNVV4033, $6; audio cassette, VVOT4155, $1) are available at the Salt Lake Distribution Center.