By Sister Neill F. Marriott Young Women general presidency
“Have a blessed day!” came the cheery goodbye recently from an Oklahoman during my trip to Tulsa. Such is the stuff of conversations between a great variety of faiths in much of Oklahoma.
My experience with the young women from stakes in Oklahoma, Texas and Arkansas was uplifting and enlightening. I asked them for the source of their confidence in speaking forthrightly about their faith, and they answered that many of their peers from different churches were comfortable talking about God, faith and religion. These young women can spread the truth of the restored gospel through normal conversations with other youth. This faith-based environment led to a natural way of speaking about what they believed. As these young women share their faith with their peers they are engaged in the work of salvation. That is, they are sharing essential truths about how we can return to our Heavenly Father’s presence and live with Him.
Perhaps, though, you may find yourself in less open settings. How, then, could you initiate gospel conversations with your peers?
In the recent Face to Face event with Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Ruth Renlund, a young woman of Ghana, Africa, asked, “How do we approach someone about the gospel?” They gave three simple ideas on this subject to the large group gathered at the MTC in Ghana and across Africa. (See face2face.LDS.org.)
First, the Renlunds suggested that the young men and young women should be true to who they are — genuinely live the way they know they should. Pondering that counsel is helpful. Do we know how we should live? For a baptized, faithful, LDS youth the answer is “yes.” We have commandments which guide our choices and actions. Listeners were encouraged by the Renlunds to “accurately report your activities” to friends as they live righteously. They went on to explain that at school when friends ask what they did over the weekend, youth should tell their friends about their church participation. That may start a conversation about religious habits, faith or our church. As you share this natural conversation, you allow the Spirit to touch the heart of your friends and you can share feelings about faith in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. This is actually a way to stand as a witness of God and thus live your baptismal covenant in a simple, friendly way (see Mosiah 18:9).
Second, Elder Renlund suggested that they pray for opportunities to share the gospel and said such sharing can be quite casual. When we pray for ways to be part of the work of salvation, we will be given opportunities to talk about our faith to others. Just as the people from different religions in Oklahoma shared a feeling of hope for us to have a blessed day, so LDS young women and young men can speak of blessings in the gospel of Jesus Christ. After praying for help to talk about the Church, we will have to recognize those opportunities that God will put right in front of us. That recognition will come more readily if we are looking up from our cell phones and noticing those around us!
Third, the Renlunds offered scriptural advice as they discussed the example in John 1:46 of Philip telling Nathanael of the Christ and Nathanael questioning him. In a natural response to his friend’s doubts, Philip simply says to him, “Come and see.” Remember to invite others to come and experience Church activities or, as Sister Renlund suggests, to attend a meeting when you are giving a talk or participating in some way.
All of these efforts to reach out to Heavenly Father’s children and offer them truth are good and pleasing in the Lord’s sight. Such work is inspired by Him. In Moroni 7:13 we are assured of the good — and its source — in our attempts to bring increased light and restored truth to friends. The great prophet-historian Mormon writes, “But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.” We must recognize the inspiration God gives us.
We often speak of the work of salvation. I hope these words are not becoming so familiar that they lose some of their engagement in the lives of Church members. We are covenant makers and keeping our covenant duty to stand as a witness of God by sharing the gospel is a solemn responsibility. What could be greater than helping a child of God return to Heavenly Father? That, simply put, is the work of salvation. As the brethren of the Nauvoo era said, “Shall we not go on in so great a cause? Go forward ” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:22).
How shall the youth of Zion go forward? Following the counsel of Elder and Sister Renlund, we stay true to who we are, we pray for opportunities to share the gospel and we invite people to come and partake of the Spirit, guidance and joy the gospel gives. Then surely, the giver and the taker of these friendly, heaven-inspired interactions will have a blessed day!