“Live your life like a disciple of Jesus Christ.”
That was the advice given to youth living in Africa and islands in the Indian Ocean as they met “face to face” with Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Ruth L. Renlund, during the first Church broadcast originating from the Africa West Area.
The event, held in the Accra Ghana Missionary Training Center on Aug. 5, was the second regional Face to Face event and was broadcast to youth living throughout Africa. The question-and-answer format with two youth moderators allowed young women and young men the opportunity to ask questions and receive responses in a candid way.
The broadcast was available in English, Portuguese, Malagasy and French and two youth groups — one from Kenya and another from Nigeria — participated in the event via video conferencing. A choir made up of youth from Accra, Ghana, provided musical numbers during the broadcast.
“Please know God loves you,” Elder Renlund told the youth. “You have a kind, loving Heavenly Father and His greatest desire is to have you make it safely back home.”
The Renlunds spent over an hour listening to questions and discussing answers. Questions prompted topics including missionary work, repentance, morality, worthily taking the sacrament, recognizing the promptings of the Holy Ghost and many other issues facing the youth of the Church today.
The Renlunds shared personal experiences and shared how the doctrines of the gospel have helped them in their own lives.
When asked about how to approach sharing the gospel with a friend, Sister Renlund encouraged youth to “accurately report your activities.”
“Don’t be afraid to simply be who you are and accurately share what you do in your life,” she said. “You’ll be sharing the gospel.”
Elder Renlund said sharing the gospel is natural as youth live like a disciple of Christ would live.
“When the opportunity comes you will be genuine, you will be authentic, there will be no hypocrisy in what you are saying,” he said. “When you are genuine Latter-day Saints that light is there, and you can be genuine in your responses. … Pray for the opportunity to share the gospel. Pray to recognize it when it happens and then it isn’t going to be a difficult conversation.”
When asked about how to recognize the promptings of the Spirit, Elder Renlund said it takes effort to learn how the Spirit communicates with each individual personally.
“The gift of the Holy Ghost is one of the greatest blessings we have, but it takes time and effort to learn how the Spirit communicates to you,” he said.
Recognizing that impressions come as thoughts, impressions, feelings, voices or dreams, Elder Renlund taught that the Holy Ghost communicates differently to different people and sometimes differently to the same person.
“In my experience the Holy Ghost speaks in very short, clear directives,” he said.
Sister Renlund added that revelation takes practice, and that a prompting from the Spirit always prompts a person to do good.
In response to a question about joy amid trials, Elder and Sister Renlund spoke of their desire to have a large family and how that hope changed after Sister Renlund was diagnosed with cancer at a young age.
“That hardship shattered our lives. Our hopes for a large family were gone and we felt many, many things,” Elder Renlund said.
But because of their faith, they were able to turn that hardship into something that changed them in a positive way.
“Having gone through that hardship we are far better able to do the things that we need to do to mourn with those who mourn, and to comfort those who stand in need of comfort,” Elder Renlund said. “Nothing prepared me better to be a bishop, or home teacher for that matter, than to have gone through that experience because I knew how it was to hurt. …
“When you face trials and difficulties and adversities, let that become like a refiners fire, to help you become something different than what you otherwise would be — to be complete, to be holy, to become like Jesus Christ.”
Sister Renlund added that through difficult times, she was able to gain a greater love for her Savior, Jesus Christ.
“There can be joy during the affliction if we draw closer to our Savior,” she said.
Afflictions come to every body — different trials come to different people. But it isn’t the affliction itself that determines the outcome.
“The real question is ‘how will you deal with it?’” he asked. “If you choose to deal with that trial the way Heavenly Father wants you to, it will be something that in the long run will sanctify to you your deepest distress. It will be something that builds you. If you do it the other way, it can be something that can cause you to be bitter and lose your faith. … The decision of which way you do it depends on you. It doesn’t depend on the trial.”
Sister Renlund encouraged youth to look for good friends — especially when he or she is the only member in their school.
“Look for good people who can be good friends, those who will support you in your living the gospel of Jesus Christ and in return you support your friend in achieving their goals,” Sister Renlund said. “A good friend will help you do what you need to do even if they are not a member of the Church.”
Elder Renlund reminded youth they are never alone, and they have been given the Gift of the Holy Ghost who is the comforter.
The Renlunds responded to questions about marriage and morality, and encouraged listeners to follow the pattern God has established — marriage between a husband and wife sealed in a temple of God for eternity. Elder Renlund spoke of an African proverb inscribed on a large wall in a Johannesburg airport. It reads, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
“God intends us to go far, far into the eternities,” he said.
When a question from a young woman in Liberia asked how she can receive the power and blessings of the priesthood as a young woman, Sister Renlund spoke of essential blessings that come through the priesthood that are available to everyone, no matter their gender.
“Think for just a minute what the power of the priesthood has brought into your life,” she said.
When asked how to be more faithful, Elder Renlund encouraged listeners to be righteous, for faith comes by righteousness.
“Faith comes by doing little things all the time,” he said. “Faith is either growing or diminishing. Faith grows as we come to church. Faith grows as we read the scriptures. Faith grows as we keep covenants.”
In his closing remarks, Elder Renlund told the youth of the love Heavenly Father has for each one of them and that the Father’s greatest desire is to have each one of His children make it safely back home to Him.
“On Oct. 8, 2015, I was ordained an apostle. You don’t have to be a seer to see into your futures. If you stay on the path that you are on, if you keep doing your level best, God will protect you … and help with challenges. [He will] help them become something good and strong in your lives.”
To view the broadcast visit lds.org/youth/activities.face-to-face-events.