Members must possess the faith, courage, and commitment their pioneer forefathers had if they are to continue building the kingdom of God in a world in which terrorism is on the rise, said Elder M. Russell Ballard in his Saturday afternoon address.
A member of the Council of the Twelve, Elder Ballard is adviser to the South America North Area Presidency. He spoke of the assassination of Elders Todd Ray Wilson and Jeffrey Brent Ball in Bolivia last May and other missionaries who have died from illness or accident since the first of the year."Our sorrow at the loss of any missionary," said Elder Ballard, "can be tempered by this declaration from the Lord Himself, `And whoso layeth down his life in my cause, for my name's sake, shall find it again, even life eternal.' " (D&C 98:13.)
Elder Ballard said missionaries have always faced trials and tribulations, and terrorism now has been added.
"Sometimes terrorists attack Church members or Church property because they believe, mistakenly, that the Church represents the interests of a country. Contrary to such misguided beliefs, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has no past or present affiliation with any government agency of any country, including the United States of America."
Elder Ballard assured members they have no reason to feel that serving a mission is unusually dangerous or risky. He pointed out that the death rate of young male missionaries from the United States serving worldwide is one-fifth the death rate of young males of comparable age living in Utah, and is one-seventh the rate of young males of comparable age in the general population of the United States.
"The battle to bring souls unto Christ began in the premortal world with the war in heaven. (See Rev. 12:7.) That same war continues today in the conflict between right and wrong between the gospel and false principles," said Elder Ballard.
"The members of the Church hold a front line position in the contest for the souls of men. The missionaries are on the battlefield fighting with the sword of truth to carry the glorious message of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the peoples of the earth. No war has ever been free of risk. The prophecies of the last days lead me to believe that the intensity of the battle for the souls of men will increase, and the risks will become greater as we draw closer to the Second Coming of the Lord.
"Preparing our families for the challenges of the coming years will require us to replace fear with faith."
Elder Ballard further said, "The Lord has not yet said, `The work is done,' so we must continue moving forward. . . . The work will continue to grow and prosper throughout the world."
With an emotion-filled voice, Elder Ballard concluded his address, imploring members to "pray fervently every day" for the missionaries' safety and protection.