While on assignment for the Church, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles was tasked with finding a location he hadn’t been to before. As one normally does, he put the location into his GPS and began following the directions. However, as he got closer, the directions seemed odd, and he decided to turn the GPS off and find the location himself.
“I soon realized that I was going in the wrong direction,” he said. He stopped and turned the GPS back on. “Fortunately, I repented on time and was able to reroute my direction.”
This time, he followed the directions exactly, found his way to the location of his assignment, “and I was able to worship with the members of the Church and enjoy the Spirit of the Lord in that meeting and assignment I had.”
During an LDS Business College devotional held in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Jan. 28, Elder Soares spoke on one of the various spiritual GPSs God has provided for His children: the teachings of Jesus Christ as revealed to His ancient and modern prophets.
This year marks the bicentennial of the First Vision, which initiated the Restoration that continues to this day. One of the signs of the restored Church of Jesus Christ is continuing revelation through prophets, Elder Soares said.
“We, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, believe in both ancient and modern revelation and prophecy.”
All members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are sustained as prophets, seers and revelators, and the President of the Church is the only person on the earth who receives revelation to guide the entire Church, Elder Soares said.
“Like the prophets of old, prophets today testify of Jesus Christ and teach His gospel.”
President Russell M. Nelson, as prophet and president of the restored Church of Jesus Christ, “is in a critical position to bear a powerful witness of Jesus Christ and guide the Church today as he seeks to bring Him to all of the world.”
Prophets such as President Nelson form the foundation of the true Church, “positioned around and gaining their strength from the chief cornerstone, the Rock of our Redeemer, who is Jesus Christ, the Son of God,” Elder Soares said. “Such a foundation in Christ was and is always to be a protection in our days ‘when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds … when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon you’” (Helaman 5:12).
Each person can trust the goodness and intentions of the living prophets, Elder Soares said. The Lord’s prophets are dedicated to helping each person build their faith in Jesus Christ. “Much of what the Lord reveals to His prophets is intended to prevent sorrow for us as individuals and as societies.”
Mortal life is full of distractions, detours and pressures to turn off one’s spiritual GPS and look for guidance elsewhere. “We put ourselves in spiritual danger when we trust only our own wisdom and turn off this spiritual GPS,” Elder Soares said. “Therefore, following the words of the Lord and His prophets is not only an issue of convenience but more importantly it is a question of spiritual survival.”
He urged the students to study the words of the prophets to help them in their decisions. “I promise that as you make an effort to seek out and follow prophetic counsel, you will be led in your search to specific direction that will be pertinent and helpful to you in your individual situation.”
Recently, a friend of Elder Soares contacted him and shared that he was in the midst of a faith crisis and questioning the teachings of the current prophets. “How could I deny the feelings, blessings and testimony that I had already felt throughout my life as I followed the words of prophets of our day?” he said in response to his friend. He added that he chooses to cling to what he already knows and not to what he doesn’t.
There are some who are struggling with their own faith in God and Jesus Christ. Those who have chosen this path are not bad people — “for sure not,” he said. “However, I want to help you see that that path, while tempting, can lead to undue stress, heartache and grief, similar to what I experienced when I turned off my GPS trying to find my direction on my own that day.”
In reflecting on the blessing of having living prophets today, Elder Soares recalled an assignment before his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles when he joined Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on a trip to Yaoundé, Cameroon. A devotional was planned for noon the day of their arrival, and due to the unusual meeting time, they expected only a few Latter-day Saints in attendance. Nonetheless, Elder Christofferson felt impressed to be among any who were able to come.
“To our surprise, when we arrived the auditorium was filled to capacity,” Elder Soares said. Elder Christofferson greeted each of them individually following the meeting.
“Watching these faithful members greet a prophet of God is something I will never forget,” he said, describing how some would cling to Elder Christofferson’s hand for quite some time, others reached out to touch his clothing in love and awe, and others kissed his palm and held a hand to his face. “Each greeting was warm and filled with the Spirit of the Lord.”
Elder Soares then asked, “Brothers and sisters, do we fully realize the blessing it is to have living prophets on the earth today?”
As one of the most recently called Apostles, Elder Soares shared what it means to him to be called as an Apostle of Jesus Christ.
Apostles are chosen through inspiration by the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he said. They are sustained by the general membership of the Church and ordained by the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “In addition to serving as [a witness] of Jesus Christ, as Jesus’ ancient Apostles did, I was given the keys of the priesthood to help God bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of His children.”
His purpose is to invite and help all to come unto Christ, and he and the other Apostles work tirelessly to to find ways to strengthen the faith of those they meet. The core of what it means to be a disciple and Apostle of Jesus Christ is to become a ministering brother, he said.
Like anybody else, Apostles are mortals who are striving to live the gospel. Despite their limitations, “the Lord has called us, and we are willing to move forward in faith and help Him until we die.”
Elder Soares closed with his testimony that the Lord speaks through His modern prophets and Apostles, and that Christ is the head of His Church.
“Our prophets represent the Savior and will teach us according to His will. I promise you that living by these principles will enable us to gain eternal life.”
Ash Johnson, who is studying entrepreneurship at LDS Business College, was grateful to hear from an Apostle in person and shake his hand following the meeting. “Every single time I listen to a prophet or Apostle, I always ask for a sign that knowing they truly are spokesmen of our Lord Jesus Christ, and today was just another one of those days.”
Sometimes when listening to talks on the Gospel Library app, “we take it for granted that these are truly prophets of the Restoration and that we need to take what they’re saying seriously. And the more we do that, the more we follow their counsel, the better off we’ll be in a growing more wicked world,” he said.
Landyn Johnson, who is studying to be a paralegal, said her favorite part of the devotional was Elder Soares’ teaching about how spiritual GPSs bring people back to Heavenly Father when they heed the impressions of the Spirit. “It’s really comforting to know that the prophets tell us what we need to know and that there’s always a way that we can make it back if we simply just listen to the Spirit,” she said.
As a single mother studying social media marketing at LDS Business College, Rebeka Gilliatt said Elder Soares’ devotional gave her the inspiration she needed today. “Just the fact that he is a prophet of God and that the Spirit told me that he was and he really does love us and care about us,” she said. “I’m grateful for that.”