Elder Gong turns 66 today — Here are some highlights from his ministry this year

Elder Gerrit W. Gong — who happens to share a birthday with the Prophet Joseph Smith — turns 66 years old today.

Sustained to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on March 31, 2018, Elder Gong has been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for nearly two years now. In that time, he has traveled to many different countries and ministered to Latter-day Saints across the world in various capacities. In honor of his birthday, here’s a look at some of his ministry highlights from this year.

Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Elder Gerrit W. Gong, Elder Dale G. Renlund, Elder Ulisses Soares, Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Elder Ronald A. Rasband talk prior to the Sunday afternoon session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Oct. 6, 2019.
Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles Elder Gerrit W. Gong, Elder Dale G. Renlund, Elder Ulisses Soares, Elder Gary E. Stevenson and Elder Ronald A. Rasband talk prior to the Sunday afternoon session of the 189th Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on Oct. 6, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Speaking at the G20 Interfaith Forum in Japan

On June 8, Elder Gong spoke at the G20 Interfaith Forum in Tokyo, Japan. His address was titled: “Seven Ways Religious Inputs and Values Contribute to Practical, Principle-Based Policy Approaches.”

During his address, Elder Gong explained that human dignity plays a foundational role in “forming, guiding, and sustaining consensus on core human rights values despite tensions in a highly pluralized world.”

Sharing how religion plays a key part in creating a peaceful and hopeful world, Elder Gong detailed some of the ways the Church and its charitable/humanitarian arm — Latter-day Saint Charities — are working to help improve the lives of people around the world.

“In pursuit of a just economy, a significant input is our human ability to unite in imagining, working, and sacrificing for a shared, brighter future,” he said. “Throughout history, religion has provided inspiration, discipline, and transcendence, as well as moral wellsprings of faith, hope, and goodwill. They have helped define what is just, right, and in the common good.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, center left, is surrounded by attendees after a session during the G20 Interfaith Forum in Chiba, Japan, on Saturday, June 8, 2019.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, center left, is surrounded by attendees after a session during the G20 Interfaith Forum in Chiba, Japan, on Saturday, June 8, 2019. Credit: Tomohiro Ohsumi, For the Deseret News, For the Deseret News

Travels with President Nelson

While traveling with President Nelson during his Pacific Ministry in May, Elder Gong shared some of the many ways he has been impressed by President Nelson and his interactions with members and people around the world.

During their nine-day ministry in the Pacific, President Nelson and Elder Gong visited Kona, Hawaii, U.S.; Apia, Samoa; Sydney, Australia; Auckland, New Zealand; Suva, Fiji; Nuku’alofa, Tonga; and Papeete, Tahiti.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife Sister Wendy Nelson and Elder Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife Sister Suan Gong hold fans with their names on them during a devotional at Ratu Cakobau stadium in Nausori, Fiji on May 22, 2019.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife Sister Wendy Nelson and Elder Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife Sister Suan Gong hold fans with their names on them during a devotional at Ratu Cakobau stadium in Nausori, Fiji on May 22, 2019. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News, Deseret News

“I’ve just been so deeply touched at how the prophet of God ministers to 10,000 people and a single family that’s grieving over the loss of their mother at the same time,” Elder Gong said in a Church News video interview.

“There is a sense of connection and of covenant belonging together that makes each one feel as though this is for them individually, for their families and for large groups, countries at the same time,” he said. “That’s a remarkable thing to feel and see.”

Face to Face for Children and Youth

On Nov. 17, Elder Gong led a broadcast Face to Face event explaining the details of the Church’s new Children and Youth program.

Explaining a more united effort to provide a Church program that can be used for children around the globe, Elder Gong said, “Our great desire is for you to strengthen faith in Jesus Christ and help you and your family progress along the covenant path as you meet life’s challenges.”

The new program, he said, “focuses on you discovering and becoming your best divine self through activities and service, learning and growth.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a Face to Face event for Children and Youth on Nov. 17, 2019.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during a Face to Face event for Children and Youth on Nov. 17, 2019. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Sharing his testimony

A little more than a year after being called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Gong shared his testimony in a Church video. Sharing his excitement for the gospel, Elder Gong stated that the Lord Jesus Christ invites everyone to partake of the fruits of His restored gospel, which are peace, joy, healing and love.

“God’s love is infinite and intimate; it fills the universe and yet is personal to each of us, one by one,” Elder Gong says in the video.

Concerning the name of the Church

Speaking about the importance of the name of the Church one year after President Nelson’s request that a greater focus be given to using the complete and proper name of the Church, Elder Gong — along with President M. Russell Ballard — shared his thoughts on the importance of the name of the Church.

“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been disguised as the Mormon Church,” Elder Gong said during a radio interview in August. “I think this effort is focused on bringing it out of disguise and bringing it out of obscurity, making it clear that the Lord Himself has revealed the name for His Church and leads the Church through His modern leaders.”

The name of the restored Church of Jesus Christ will be a “beacon of light” for those seeking truth, he said.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, meet with 'Aho'eitu Tupou VI, King of Tonga, and her royal majesty the Queen Nanasipauʻu Vaea at the Royal Palace in Tonga on May 23, 2019. Also pictured are Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife Sister Susan Gong and Elder O. Vincent Halleck and his wife Sister Peggy Halleck.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his wife, Sister Wendy Nelson, meet with ‘Aho’eitu Tupou VI, King of Tonga, and her royal majesty the Queen Nanasipauʻu Vaea at the Royal Palace in Tonga on May 23, 2019. Also pictured are Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife Sister Susan Gong and Elder O. Vincent Halleck and his wife Sister Peggy Halleck. Credit: Jeffrey D. Allred

Testifying of President Nelson

In a Church News video released earlier this month, Elder Gong shared his thoughts on how President Nelson is helping build bridges with people and communities across the globe.

“President Nelson is a leader,” Elder Gong said. “He brings the love of God. He says strong families make strong communities, strong communities make strong countries.”