It's been a little over a year since Aaronic Priesthood quorums throughout the Church began utilizing the revised Duty to God program. For legions of deacons, teachers and priests across the globe, the program and its now familiar "learn, act and share" pattern have become a part of their daily lives as they serve, prayerfully study, learn and grow.
In his worldwide duties as the Young Men general president, Brother David L. Beck has met with thousands of young men and their advisers, bishops and fathers. Such meetings have afforded him sacred moments to testify of the opportunities afforded by the Duty to God program. Already it has proven a priceless tool for earnest Aaronic Priesthood holders preparing for missions, future families and lives dedicated to learning and fulfilling their duty to the Lord.
"Duty to God is the ideal resource to help Aaronic Priesthood men develop the core disciplines of the priesthood," said Brother Beck. "These disciplines, which are contained in the Oath and Covenants of the Priesthood, include being faithful, magnifying their calling and living by every word of God and His servants."
Visit an Aaronic Priesthood quorum in any corner of the Church and you will likely find a group ?— sometimes big, sometimes small — of young men learning their priesthood duties and sharing with their friends and families what they have learned and acted upon.
Take the deacons quorum in the Garcilazo Ward from the Peruvian town of Ayacucho. Their numbers are few, but as it functions under the direction of dedicated quorum leaders and a wise adviser, the quorum can be counted as a true power in the Church. During one Sunday quorum meeting, the boys focused their discussion on what they had learned during their personal gospel study. They then shared with one another their testimonies of the new principles they had learned.
Ayacucho is found in Peru's interior lands. It's far from Church headquarters. Still, the Duty to God program was being practiced in full and "young men" were proving to be "priesthood men."
Thousands of miles away, President Clark T. Bishop of the Taiwan Taichung Mission observed Duty to God blessing lives in a gathering of Asian Aaronic Priesthood holders:
"In attending a priests quorum meeting, the assistant to the bishop conducted the meeting. A young man gave part of the lesson. Several young men shared what they had been doing with the Duty to God program. Those who did not bring their Duty to God booklets were encouraged and reminded to bring them the following week."
Sharing is a central element of Duty to God. As young men share with their fellow quorum members what they have learned and acted on, they are developing the spiritual confidence to share their beliefs with friends outside the Church. During a recent tour of the Asia Area, Brother Adrian Ochoa, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, participated in a devotional in Hong Kong. He asked an Aaronic Priesthood holder named Chan Him Lok to speak on his experiences of sharing the gospel in his community. The young man admitted that he had been afraid to share; the gospel with his non-member friends at school. But he has now learned to be bold and talk to others about his Church membership and belief. He said that on one occasion, when a teacher at school challenged his beliefs, he simply shared his testimony and the teacher has since kept his silence.
The Duty to God program "teaches me that I can serve others and that I can invite others to come unto Christ," wrote Davin Evanson, a 14-year-old teacher from Alberta, Canada. "And it helps me prepare for my mission."
With each new section of the Duty to God booklet, Davin set goals about things he wants to learn. Then he and his father, James Evanson, discuss how he will learn about his selected topic and what he can do to act on what he has learned. Once he has "learned" and "acted," Davin "shares" what he has learned in family home evening or during his Sunday teachers quorum meeting.
"My favorite goal was Davin's desire to learn about his priesthood duty," wrote Brother James Evanson. "We searched the Doctrine and Covenants together to discover the sections pertaining to the priesthood. He then read these sections and shared what he had learned in his journal and with the family. I believe that as Davin learns and applies the truths of the gospel on his own, they will become relevant to him personally."
The Duty to God program is designed to allow each young man of the Aaronic Priesthood to discover and live his own personal duties to the Lord. One of the proven by-products of the program is that the young man also grows closer to those who love him and want him to succeed. Davin appreciates the time he spent working on Duty to God with his father. "Doing it with my dad helps me because he has more insight and knows what I need to do to become a better priesthood holder."
Indeed, young men can get the most out of their Duty to God experience with the assistance of wise relatives and priesthood mentors.
"Parents, leaders and advisers play a key role in shepherding Aaronic Priesthood men," said Brother Beck. "They can be more effective in their shepherding as they understand and utilize Duty to God on an ongoing basis."