‘Huge success’

Missionary DVD opened doors during busy Christmas season

Early observations from missions around the United States and Canada indicate that use last December of the "Joy to the World" DVD is helping members share the gospel.

"The quality of the 'Joy to the World' DVD was very good," said President Neil H. Christensen of the California Riverside Mission. "Members were involved. Up to 200 DVDs were distributed to each ward in the mission, which is about 12,000 DVDs. I would expect other missions in Southern California to have distributed 10,000 or more.

"We're just starting to see the results," he continued. "Roughly 50 people are being taught, with four committed to baptism."

President Christensen believes the DVD was effective because missionaries began preparing ward councils in November by making presentations on how to use the DVD.

"The DVD is good to use beyond the Christmas season," President Christensen continued. "We will continue using the DVD during the year."

During the Stuart Florida Stake conference last November, President H. Wesley Odom asked members to fold their programs and put them away. Despite weeks of preparation, he said, he felt inspired to change conference plans and instead he wished to view the "Joy to the World" DVD as a stake.

In the congregation was a young man named Hector who was not a member. Questions came to mind as he watched the video, but as the video progressed, every question was answered. "How can I learn more?" he asked afterward.

He read the Book of Mormon three times during the next three weeks as missionaries presented the discussions. He was baptized in latter November.

Elder Michael Baker and Elder Christopher Gunnell of the Florida Ft. Lauderdale Mission said they felt the power of the message of the DVD transform the lives of a young family.

After arranging an appointment at a member's home, the two elders waited one-and-a-half hours for the Watkins family to arrive. Apologizing repeatedly for their unavoidable delay, the Watkins settled in to watch. From the opening music of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the missionaries felt the assistance of a heavenly hand in their teaching. They felt the Spirit touch the family in ways that prompted them to be baptized two months later.

"We want to be just like you," said Dana Watkins to a senior missionary couple outside their meetinghouse in latter January. "We want to be missionaries when our children are raised. We can hardly wait."

Posing in a picture with Elder Baker and Elder Gunnell, 13-year-old William Watkin said he is excited to be ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood in a week, while his 12-year-old sister, Rebecca, stood with her copy of the Book of Mormon and said she was eager to join the Young Women organization.

"The video is top quality, as all materials are from the Church," said President Wayne B. Hilbig of the Tennessee Knoxville Mission. "More than 2,800 DVDs were distributed by members, including 389 referrals from media commercials. Most wards and branches in the mission were solidly involved in using the video to find people to teach.

"No one could view this video without being impressed," he said. "It will be impossible to measure all the good that will come because of this video."

President A. Brice Gurney of the Canada Halifax Mission felt the DVD was a "huge" success. Members, he said, were actively involved in distributing about 2,500 videos. At a time of season when missionary work hits a lull, missionaries found new people to teach.

Despite that success, President Gurney feels that missionaries could have distributed more DVDs if more had been available. Some missionaries in New Brunswick bought 200 copies with their own money, he said. "We have dedicated missionaries," President Gurney mused.

Elder Jacob C. Tolley in the Washington Tacoma Mission said they were unprepared for the popularity of the video and the masses of referrals they received. The DVD provided members with an easy, comfortable way to approach family and friends. Many members took advantage of this non-threatening means, but were limited in the number of the videos they could obtain.

Three baptisms have come as a result, he said, and they expect more.

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