During his administration, President David O. McKay had a special phrase "Every member a missionary." That reminder, along with the "golden questions": "What do you know about the LDS Church?" and, "Would you like to know more?" helped propel the work forward in the 1950s and 1960s.
Today, nearly 60,000 full-time missionaries and thousands of stake missionaries introduce the gospel to thousands of people each year. With such a large, active missionary force, does that mean our responsibility as members to proclaim the gospel to others is any less urgent? No, of course not.
President Gordon B. Hinckley has said: "We all need to be reminded to share the gospel with our associates. I emphasize the word share. . . . Neighborliness and exemplary living of the gospel of Jesus Christ, with an awareness of opportunity to quietly and graciously lead them in the direction of the Church, will accomplish much more, and will be resisted less and appreciated more by those we seek to help." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 369.)
The challenges facing full-time missionaries and Church members are huge, but not insurmountable. Consider this statement in the early 1970s by President Spencer W. Kimball: "There are political barriers, time and space barriers, language and other barriers which in the past have kept us from reaching the ears of the millions of honest people. But iron curtains will crumble, bamboo curtains will fall, rice paddies will be crossed, mountain peaks will be scaled, and no power human or otherwise can hold the work back when we do our part." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 582.)
Where are those iron or bamboo curtains today? Is not the gospel of Jesus Christ finding root in areas previously thought impregnable? Can we in our own neighborhoods find those who will be receptive to the gospel? If they previously were not receptive to our inquiries, is it time to inquire again?
After some 14 years of preaching the gospel to the Lamanites, the prophet Alma and the sons of Mosiah met again and reflected on their journeys. Though the work seemed difficult at times, they took comfort in their successes. As they reflected on their missions, they remembered:
"And the Lord said unto them also: Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls." (Alma 17:11.)
Some years ago, President Kimball said: "Our roles as missionaries is not primarily to convince people of the truthfulness of the gospel. If the Lord were primarily interested in convincing people of the divine nature of this work, He could, and perhaps would, demonstrate His powers in such a way that large numbers of people could know the truth in a relatively brief period of time. . . . No, the Lord is not primarily interested in having His children only convinced of His work. He would like them to be converted to the
"The power of conversion is directly associated with the Holy Ghost, for no person can be truly converted and know that Jesus is the Christ save by the power of the Holy Ghost." (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 570.)
President Hinckley reminds us today: "I am convinced that there are many, many thousands who, with warmth and welcome, can be led to the eternal truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. They must be friendshipped. They must be fellowshipped. They must be made to feel comfortable and at home, so they can observe in the lives of the members of the Church those virtues they wish for themselves." (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 369.)
He continues, "Don't be gloomy. . . . This is the gospel of good news, this is a message of joy, this is the thing of which the angels sang, when they sang of the birth of the Son of God. This is a work of eternal salvation; this is something to be happy and excited about. . . . The Lord is saying 'Keep at it. Keep at it.' " (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 375.)