As Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Seventy attended the Church’s sesquecentennial celebration in Provo, Utah, in 1997, he watched an army of LDS missionaries enter the BYU football stadium carrying colorful flags.
“I remember feeling, ‘I want to go with them. I want to be part of this work,’ ” Elder Nielson, now Executive Director of the Missionary Department, said.
Then Elder Nielson, who at that time was serving as a stake president in Twin Falls, Idaho, had a feeling. “You are part of this work.”
Speaking at the 2016 Seminar for new MTC Presidents and Directors of Visitors’ Centers and Historic Sites, Elder Nielson said he is still grateful for that feeling that helped him understand that all members can be part of the Lord’s work.
He told the new MTC presidents and directors of visitors’ centers and historic sites and their wives to record the feelings they have as they begin their missions. Others who are called to serve with them — including the new full-time missionaries — might have similar feelings, he said.
He asked each of the new leaders to not fear. “If you have fear, then faith disappears. If you have faith, then fear disappears,” Elder Nielson said. “Fear is not a Christ-like attribute.”
He asked the new presidents and directors to use and teach a learning pattern during which they “prepare to learn, interact to edify, and invite to act.”
He told the new MTC presidents they have two responsibilities: 1) to care for missionaries; 2) to carry out the Lord’s work.
“Your purpose is to invite others to come to Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel,” he said. “Our job is to invite.”
Elder Nielson added, “When we understand where we came from and we understand what we are supposed to do, it changes everything.”
It doesn’t matter where a person serves, he added, their purpose is the same. “We don’t change our message, we don’t change our purpose. Our purpose is the same wherever we go.”
The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of repentance and change, said Elder Nielson. “If we teach baptism without repentance then we miss the doctrine of Christ.”
Concluding, Elder Nielson told the new leaders to “go and become like the Savior is. See if you can understand what He taught and what He would want you to say. ...
“Ask yourself: ‘What do I need to do to become [like the Savior]?’ It is a lifelong quest.”
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