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When prophets speak, 'pay attention'

Modern-day revelation to the living prophet is as profound as anything that can be read in the scriptures, and is something to which Church members should pay attention, said Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve.

In an Aug. 4 fireside address to missionaries from the Illinois Peoria Mission who are serving in Nauvoo, he counseled, "Do not take this fact casually that we have a living prophet and that we have living apostles on the face of the earth. Listen to what they teach. When general conference comes, pay attention to what they're saying."We believe and know because of our study of the scriptures that revelations occur within the Church, and that God has raised from time to time prophets who speak for him on the face of the earth.

"We pick up the Book of Mormon and we read of marvelous experiences of Nephi and his prophecies and visions of the future.

"We have a similar experience when we pick up the Doctrine and Covenants. I could read to you revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants that come through the Prophet Joseph as given to him by the Lord that are profound."

But even more recent, Elder Ballard spoke of the fulfillment of an address President Spencer W. Kimball gave in April 1974 to regional representatives and General Authorities.

"President Kimball parted the curtain and opened the vision of the Church's role for the future in that grand address entitled, `When Will the World be Converted?' Within that marvelous sermon, the prophet called upon the brethren to capture the vision that this work has to move forward at a more rapid pace. He asked the brethren that if they couldn't move this work forward at the pace it needs to move, who would do it?"

President Kimball said the Church needed more missionaries and it was in that meeting when he said that every worthy young man should serve as a full-time missionary for the Church, Elder Ballard continued.

At the time of the address, there were 17,500 full-time missionaries. President Kimball said that the Lord expected the Church to have 50,000 full-time missionaries.

"The General Authorities understood that the president was serious and they started preaching and preparing the youth of the world to serve as missionaries. Soon the missionary numbers began to increase."

Then in 1976 the prophet called upon all of the members of the Church to ask God in their personal prayers and in their family prayers to bring down the iron and the bamboo curtains, Elder Ballard explained.

"But then in the same breath, he said, `But why will the Lord do that if we're not prepared to enter? Therefore, I call upon the Church to raise up a mighty missionary force of 50,000 missionaries.'

There are now 45,000 missionaries serving full-time missions throughout the Church.

"As the missionary force started to rise up in numbers, we began to see miracles occur in the world. I'd like to testify to you, as one who has been very close to it for about eight years, serving on the Missionary Executive Council of the Church and watching this whole drama unfold, that the fulfillment of a modern-day prophet has been as dramatic as anything you will read in the standard works of this Church."

Elder Ballard spoke of the missionaries who are now serving in such countries as Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Hungary, the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Greece, Yugoslavia, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago to name a few.

"All of that happened in the last 18 months. These are miracles - the fulfilling of prophecy."

When President Benson speaks about the importance of the Book of Mormon, he is also sending a message to Church members, Elder Ballard said.

"The Book of Mormon in my judgment has done more to lift the spirituality of this people than anything that I've observed in the 16 years that I've been a General Authority. And you lived through it.

"I hope that you recorded it. I hope when you die and your children pick up your journal, they will read: `I lived in a time when a prophet of God parted the curtain of our understanding and taught us what we needed to do, and I lived through a period and witnessed myself the fulfillment of his teachings and his prophecy.

"Isn't it exciting to live in a time when we have a prophet of God to tell us what needs to be done.

"God knows you. You're His children. Don't ever forget that. He loves you. He's not as far away as you may think. He's given you leadership. And I'd pray tonight that you'd pay attention to what the First Presidency of the Church is calling upon you to do.

"We appreciate what you do here in Nauvoo, this great place. God walked with His prophets in these streets. Many revelations came in Nauvoo. In the very homes that you're serving in the heavens were opened regularly to those who dwelled therein.

"It was a period of time when the Lord was flooding the earth with His teachings and His commandments. I hope that you enjoy every minute of your mission in Nauvoo."

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