What we did: Nurturing and developing testimonies

Faith, hope, charity

Testimonies come through work. A guideline for this work is found in the Book of Mormon: faith, hope and charity. My parents always helped me to have faith in the missionary system. They showed me their examples — that of believing if they did their part, they would be granted success by the Lord. As they had faith and worked, they found that their hope increased. Faithful missionaries don't doubt; they put all their trust and hope in God that He will bear them up.

Since my parents trusted God and hoped for success, they naturally showed charity. And charity is what wins people over. People who radiate charity have an internal magnet that attracts others more than anything else ever will.

My advice to those trying to set an example for young men is to show faith, hope and charity. As young men see this pattern in action, they will gain a testimony of the work and will be successful in bringing souls to Christ. It's working for me. — Bradley Allen, Vienna, Austria

Seed of service

Shortly before my son graduated from Primary, he gave a talk in Church. After the meeting, an elderly brother came up and said, "That boy is going to be a bishop someday. When he goes on his mission, I will help with his expenses." I replied that I wasn't sure he would serve a mission. His responded, "Plant the seed of service quietly. Don't tell him he is going on a mission. Just say 'When you go on your mission' every chance you have. Like, 'When you go on your mission would you like to go where Brother Smith has just been called to?' Or, 'Wouldn't it be something if you went to the mission field where your grandfather served.' Keep the mission idea alive always."

It worked. Unfortunately, Brother Whitney died in an accident before the mission call came, but that young boy served his mission, became a bishop and is now in the stake presidency where he lives, and his brother is now a bishop.

Thank you, Brother Whitney. — C. L. Jewkes, Salt Lake City, Utah

Sharing experiences

Spending time with young men in the outdoors can help. Hiking the trail or sitting around a fire may be the only time when they will share feelings, bear testimonies and show commitments.

Sharing spiritual experiences in the outdoors can strengthen knowledge and understanding in the lives of young men and foster their desires to serve. — Kendall Lee Ballard, Rexburg, Idaho

Not an option

I was recently speaking to a combined class of the Melchizedek Priesthood and Relief Society. Among many things, I spoke of the following:

  • Realize it’s never too early to start children reading the Book of Mormon. President Ezra Taft Benson taught us the importance of studying the Book of Mormon and, therefore, we as parents have a responsibility to carry this on through the years. If young men develop a testimony of the Book of Mormon early on, they are more likely to have desires to serve missions.
  • Be on your knees personally with each child in the child’s personal prayers. Studies have shown that those who serve missions and marry in the temple mainly come from families who pray together and study the scriptures together.
  • Don’t speak of the mission as an option. As a bishop, when I’ve interviewed 14- and 15-year-olds, they’ve been wishy-washy about missions if the parents have spoken of this as an option.
  • Have interviews with your children monthly. Or, you can simply have a special time with each child, to do something together regularly. During this time, you develop a relationship in which the child will be more apt to listen to your counsel.

Speaking as a bishop, I firmly believe that every ward should have a missionary preparation class. When I served previously as a bishop, I held a missionary preparation class after the third hour on Sundays with the priests. All of those priests who came have served missions. I was recently called as a bishop again, and I immediately started the missionary preparation class. This should continue up until the time the young man goes on his mission. In this class, we teach them many things, including world religions. In addition, when they reach the ages of 16 to 18, help them do splits with the stake and full-time missionaries and also have them participate in fellowshipping.

Leaders, especially bishops, should rally around these young men. You can be a good leader and be their friend also. And always talk missions. — Thomas Cavanaugh, Spokane, Wash.