PROVO, Utah — Underscoring the word “help” and its spiritual and practical meanings, President Henry B. Eyring reminded new mission presidents and companions of their role to help missionaries in helping others.
“You will help your missionaries choose to serve by helping them feel the love of God and the influence of the Holy Ghost,” said President Eyring, the second counselor in the First Presidency. “And they, in turn, will choose to help the people they meet and teach to come unto Christ in the way you helped them choose the right.”
Speaking Tuesday morning, June 25, at the 2019 New Mission Leadership Seminar held in the Provo Missionary Training Center, he emphasized that the new mission leaders are called by the Savior “to help Him in His rescue mission,” adding “your missionaries, all of them, are called to help.”
“You will help them choose to do right,” President Eyring said. “They must choose for themselves to invite people to come unto Christ. They will not convert people, but they will help those people choose to exercise faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement and to repent of their sins. Your missionaries will then help them choose through faith to be baptized by priesthood authority.
“After new members have been baptized your missionaries will help them want to obey the command ‘receive ye the Holy Ghost.’ (John 20:22). Your missionaries will have helped them to make that choice by giving them experiences when the Spirit has touched and warmed their hearts. And those members will then choose to endure, being faithful to their covenants, because your loving missionaries will have helped them feel joy in keeping commitments with God.”
He highlighted three settings where mission leaders will model for missionaries the way to help others — receiving new missionaries, conducting regular personal interviews with missionaries and helping missionaries as they conclude their full-time service.
Receiving new missionaries
President Eyring offered suggestions on ways mission leaders could prepare to greet and welcome arriving missionaries. Offering as a model, he shared his preparations and interactions in meeting with many of the new mission presidents and companions attending the seminar.
“Before you came into my office to be called, I studied your picture. I read the names and ages of your children. I looked into your eyes when you came into the room. And, as always happens, I felt a love for you as I asked you to tell me where you were born. As best I could, I tried subtly to ask something about how and when you have seen God’s hand in your lives and in the lives of your children.
“I did that, not out of curiosity, but out of a desire to be inspired how I can help the Lord give you the help He wants for you. You mission presidents and your companions will feel the same way about your missionaries. And your missionaries will learn from you how to help the people they meet. By your example, they will be like the elders and sisters I have seen who greet strangers they meet as if they were their long-lost and dear friends.”
Another way to help missionaries is through the assignments of companions, trainers and leaders — choices inspired by the Holy Ghost and confirmed by the Spirit to the missionary, he said.
“Mission assignments can change the lives of missionaries and even the lives of their families for generations — I myself have learned that is true,” President Eyring said, speaking of his mission companion.
“He helped me see what a companion could do to help someone grow in faith. He helped me see possibilities of what the Lord could do through me for others."
President Eyring also spoke of the wife of his mission president — her example, influence and impact. “I was sorry that our visit was so short, yet she helped me see with spiritual eyes what a great daughter of God is like. That raised my desire and hopes for having such a companion for life and for eternity.”
President Eyring recalled a personal interview he had as a missionary in meeting with a visiting general authority, saying it set an example that he has tried to follow.
“In every personal interview I have had with a person in the Lord’s missionary work, my overriding purpose is to help him or her feel the love of the Lord and the influence of the Holy Ghost.”
He added: “My prayer is that you will succeed in your determination to help missionaries grow in their power to teach, lead, and love others under the direction of the Spirit. Teach them the power of the Atonement in overcoming their weaknesses, their mistakes and their transgressions. As they humbly come unto Christ and rely on His merits, teach them that He will help them and ‘make weak things become strong unto them’ (Ether 12:27).”
Regarding meeting with missionaries at the end of their full-time service, President Eyring reminded mission presidents to praise them, thank them, urge them to continue in faithful service, to encourage them to keep the commandments and to help them set post-mission goals.
Recalling his own last interview, President Eyring said: “It has taken me years to see what he was doing in that interview. He was helping me choose my own goals for a lifetime — goals to come unto Christ and to invite and help others I love to choose to come with me.
To the new mission leaders, he said: “I pray that you will help them grow over a lifetime in their desire to draw closer to the Savior and to help others draw unto Him as well.”
President Eyring concluded with promises and his testimony.
“The Lord will magnify your power to see with the eyes of faith,” he said. “You will be able to see people as children of God more clearly than you ever have before. That gift of the Spirit will come because of your desire for their eternal happiness. With inspiration, you will be able to help them feel that they can have a wonderful future.”
He promised the new mission leaders joy as they feel the Lord’s gratitude for their sacrifice and service and watchful protection over them and their families.
“I testify that God the Father knows and loves you,” President Eyring said. “Jesus is the Christ. He is our Savior. You are in service to Him and with Him. This is the true and living Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He loves us and He leads us through His prophet, President Russell M. Nelson. I so testify in the Savior’s name.”