As a stake president, I have many times given encouragement to members to be "member missionaries" in the fullest sense of the term. I have given counsel to follow the invitation of the Lord and the teachings of President David O. McKay, President Spencer W. Kimball and President Ezra Taft Benson - among others - to invite all to come unto Christ.
Yet somehow the true understanding of the probably limitless possibilities of member missionary involvement had escaped me - until two full-time missionaries pointed out my sacred responsibilities and invited me to be a real member missionary.In a stake general priesthood meeting in November 1993, in front of the assembled brethren of the priesthood of our stake, Elder Kevin O'Bryant of Chattanooga, Tenn., and Elder Adam Heindorff of Queensland, Australia, of the Utah Provo Mission invited me to stand and make a commitment. They challenged me to lead by example and to commit to the Lord to prayerfully find and introduce someone to the gospel of Jesus Christ within two weeks. Given the circumstances, what else could I do? I made the commitment, and sat down, wondering what to do about this.
Two weeks later on a quiet Sunday evening, these same two full-time missionaries came to my home for an accounting of the actions of my commitment. With hesitation and some embarrassment, I reported that I had not yet done anything. I was still thinking and praying about what to do. They bore testimony to me about missionary work, and then challenged me to prayerfully select someone with whom the Lord would have me share the Book of Mormon - within one week. I again agreed.
Over the next several days, I prayed that the Lord would direct me to someone whom He would have receive a Book of Mormon. Yet no impressions came.
On Friday evening, my work required me to attend a small private reception in Washington, D.C., in honor of a former foreign government official. Over the years, I had attended many such occasions as part of my profession as an international investment banker. Yet somehow this evening things were different. As my wife, Bonnie, and I left the reception, a clear impression came to me that this was the individual to whom I was to give a Book of Mormon.
But where was I to come up with one in his language? It was already late Friday afternoon Salt Lake City time, and I was scheduled to meet privately with the government official and an interpreter the following morning to discuss economic investment opportunities of mutual benefit to both our countries. Again, quiet yet clear promptings came to me. I immediately telephoned the Missionary Department in Salt Lake City and reached someone just at closing time. They helpfully arranged for a Book of Mormon in the government official's language, and a professional colleague was quickly able to overnight Air Express it to me.
The Book of Mormon arrived the next morning, just five minutes before the scheduled appointment. Armed with the Book of Mormon and a confirmation that I was to present it, I went to the meeting. At the conclusion of our time together, I presented a Russian language Book of Mormon to former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev. With new-found courage I had before lacked, and thinking of the unhesitating faith of Elder O'Bryant and Elder Heindorff and thousands of others just like them, I bore a simple testimony to this world leader of the truthfulness of the message of this book.
He thanked me and with a warm smile said he would read it. I departed, and the Spirit bore witness to me about the power of prayerfully asking the Lord's direction in our missionary labors. I am grateful to these two full-time missionaries, Elder O'Bryant, who completed his mission in August 1994, and Elder Heindorff. They understood their sacred calling and had the loving courage to remind me of mine. When we prayerfully seek the Lord's strength and guidance to be member missionaries, He does open the way.