LAIE, Hawaii — Graduates of Brigham Young University-Hawaii had an unexpected speaker during commencement exercises on Dec. 15.
During the beginning of the keynote address, scheduled speaker Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles invited Donny Osmond, famous performer and member of the Church, to join him on the podium.
Osmond, who attended the event in support of his graduating daughter-in-law, Alta Roberts Osmond, welcomed the invitation and shared a brief message — that included a little singing — with graduates.
After joking that graduates would only know him from his voice as Captain Li Shang in the Disney movie, “Mulan,” Osmond told a story of how preparation in his life helped him to perform well, despite opposition.
“You have prepared yourself, you have God on your side, your Savior Jesus Christ believes in you,” Osmond told graduates. “The gospel is true, without it I don’t know where I would be.”
After inviting Osmond to the podium, Elder Rasband invited his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, to stand with him as she wished all a Merry Christmas by saying, “Mele Kalikimaka.”
Elder Rasband focused his remarks on “prospering in the Lord’s way.”
“What the Lord makes clear is that we prosper when we live the commandments of God,” he said.
Recognizing that disciples of Jesus Christ “are different and determined,” Elder Rasband taught, “We seek to establish His righteousness and to reflect the blessings that come from loving God and His ways.”
The leader cautioned listeners to never take casually their commitment to Jesus Christ and His commandments.
“There was a time when most people understood that they would be held accountable by God for living the commandments, even in my lifetime, I remember those days,” he said. “Not so anymore. Few people observe the Sabbath with the reverence it deserves as the Lord’s Day. Many consider charity, the pure love of Christ, to be simply a monetary donation. Others think nothing of taking God’s name in vain; many squander the gifts He has given them in search of self-satisfying pleasures rather than following the Lord’s pronouncement, ‘I came into the world to do the will of my Father.’”
Christ promises to “be with you” as a person fulfills his or her commitments as a disciple, a faithful follower of Him.
“So, when we are keeping the commandments, what does it mean to ‘prosper?’” Elder Rasband asked. “Is it the measure of how much money you are going to make? How many children we have? How many cars and trucks are sitting in our driveways? What positions we fill in our employment? Or even in the Church?
To prosper in the Lord’s way is neither an academic discussion nor a measure of worldly goods, he said. “I believe the Lord needs each one of us to prosper on the front lines of our professions, our community involvement — which includes actively working to keep our freedom of religion and religious liberties; keeping up with our responsibilities as honest, compassionate, fair-minded citizens, and as leaders in our families and in our faith. The Lord needs us ‘to wax strong in the knowledge of the truth’ and to be examples of how living the gospel of Jesus Christ brings peace, fulfillment and happiness.”
Elder Rasband shared three ways a person may prosper in the Lord’s way.
First, a person must have faithful family, friends and mentors in relationships that lift, guide and prompt a person to do the same for others.
Sharing his experience — both as a young husband, father and student trying to decide his path in life and as an Apostle — where relationships have helped him learn valuable lessons.
Sharing about recent visits to California where he visited with members who had lost their homes to fire, and Texas, where Hurricane Harvey and flooding had occurred, Elder Rasband spoke of the important need to “mourn with those that mourn … and comfort those that stand in need of comfort.”
“They had nothing,” he said. “But they had each other and you can imagine how touched and grateful I was to see their strength and hear their prayers in such difficult times,” he said.
He later went on to say, “Did their disobedience bring the winds, rain, fire and floods? No. Certainly, there are times when the Lord chastens His people … and some pose the question, ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’
“I don’t know. Perhaps the answer is because tragedies bring forth opportunities to serve and lift and teach eternal principles, because there is opposition in all things, because this is mortal life subject to the traumas of earthly existence.
“The Lord has made it clear that we prosper when our associations and relationships are framed in living the commandments of God, even in difficult circumstances such as these.”
Second, turn to Heavenly Father in prayer, making Him an important part of decisions and direction.
“Through prayer, a person is able to be divinely connected to His guidance and goodness,” he said.
“Praying for others, even those we do not know, will bring down power from on high,” he said. “The heavens open not with replacements of what has been lost or compromised, but with God’s love and peace. The power of the Atonement, the rock upon which we build, brings peace in troubled times. I saw it happen in California and in Texas. We will see it in our lives, you will see it in your lives when you go forward and at times face daunting challenges.”
Third, live the commandments to have the “blessing of the Lord’s Spirit in our lives.”
“That happens most directly in the House of the Lord — the temple,” he said.
“I testify that temples of the Lord are our greatest refuge from the worldly storm swirling around us,” he said. “The statement on the outside façade of every temple says it all: ‘Holiness to the Lord, The House of the Lord.’”
In the temple, Latter-day Saints are able to renew their spiritual perspective and recommit their lives to the Lord.
“What a glorious blessing it is for so many of you to go home now after graduation and attend the temple in your own countries,” he said. “The Church needs you in your nations; we need you to bless your communities with your sacred worship in temples. … Always have a current temple recommend and count it a great honor to be worthy to go, and then go to the temple often, as much as your circumstances permit.”
Elder Kim B. Clark, General Authority Seventy and commissioner of the Church Educational System, and BYU-Hawaii President John S. Tanner also shared remarks.
Elder Clark offered “three invitations and a promise” to graduates.
“Continually hold fast to the iron rod — read, study and ponder the Book of Mormon every day,” he said.
Second, he encouraged each person in the audience to “humble yourself before the Lord,” by praying to the Father in the name of the Son, everyday.
And third, “Give no heed to the great and spacious building.”
Elder Clark encouraged graduates to keep the world out and the Spirit of the Lord in their hearts.
Graduate Ping Liu from Zhengzhou, China, was the student speaker and Hikaru Imaizumi performed “Jeux d’eau” on the piano.