President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, began Saturday, June 26, at the 2021 Seminar for New Mission Leaders with a reassuring message for his unique audience: “The Lord has called you, loves you and knows your heart perfectly.”
“The Lord confirmed that witness as I was blessed to issue some of your calls from Him,” he said. “At the beginning of those interviews, I asked how the gospel had come to be central in your lives. As I listened to your responses and stories, I silently prayed to feel confirmation that the Lord had prepared and chosen you for this service.
“In every call, that witness came to me.”
The Savior, he added, has promised that He will be with all who immerse themselves in missionary work for Him. As Doctrine and Covenants 84:88 declares: “And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”
President Eyring said the new mission leaders gathering for the three-day seminar may not see the Lord or His angels as Joseph Smith and other prophets did.
“But you will feel the promptings and the comfort He will send you by the Holy Ghost. And you will see evidence, time after time, that He has gone ahead of you to prepare your way — and the way for your missionaries.
“The Savior promises that He watches over missionaries, when faithful, as they go forward in His service, even as adversaries try to attack them.”
The hand of the Lord, he added, “is in the placement of every missionary” who will serve alongside the new leaders. “He knows them perfectly. He knows the desires of their hearts, their strengths, their weaknesses and their potential.”
President Eyring said his experiences calling missionaries has assured him that the Lord knows every one. He would fast and pray before going to the room where the assignments were to be made. The room had multiple computer screens. On one screen was a picture of the person to be assigned, with brief biographical information. On another screen were the names of missions and their respective missionary needs.
“As I looked at those screens, I had only a few minutes to receive the revelation to assign each child of God to what I knew would be a transforming experience for him or her and for the mission president,” he said. “In those short moments, a clear impression would come. I would click the computer mouse. On more than one occasion, I turned to the Missionary Department helper at my side, ‘Can you pull back that last assignment? I just felt a correction’.”
At the end of each session, President Eyring felt “a clear assurance” that the Lord had made the calls. His experiences assigning missionaries offer several assurances for mission leaders.
“First, you can be sure that the Lord placed that missionary in your care,” he said. “He chose you personally to love and care for ‘the one.’ The Lord will magnify what you say and what you do in the eyes of the missionaries you will lead and serve. He will send the Holy Ghost to manifest to them that what you teach and testify of is true.
“What you say and do will carry hope and give direction to missionaries far beyond your natural abilities and your own understanding.”
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A second spiritual assurance, he added, is that the Lord knows perfectly those He has called to lead His missions.
“You should never wonder why you receive a missionary who needs special help and patience. You can know this: the Lord knew you were prepared to give the love He wants for His son or daughter. You can have confidence that the Lord placed them with you with a perfect understanding of them and of your capacities to give them the love and leadership that would be best for them.”
President Eyring’s third assurance for the mission leaders is that the Lord called them, at this time, with an intent to bless their respective marriages and their families.
When interviewing couples for a potential mission leadership assignment, President Eyring generally starts by asking how the gospel came into each couple’s life. He typically invites the wife to go first.
“As she speaks, increasing emotion comes into her voice,” he said. “I see love and admiration in her husband’s eyes. As he listens to and watches her, they lean toward each other. Their eyes meet. I sense that their hearts are knit together in love. They have become great spiritual companions. I have the assurance that the Lord has prepared them.”
Afterward, President Eyring asks the husband to share his story, which typically intertwines perfectly with his wife. Their two stories are one. They are true companions.
“As your missionaries observe your marriage and your love of family, those observations will bless their lives and their service. They will see in your examples what it means to be a missionary companion.”
President Eyring’s fourth spiritual assurance to the mission leaders is that “the best is yet to come” for missionary work in the Lord’s Church.
“The COVID-19 pandemic might have appeared to be an impediment. Instead, it sent us to our knees to ask for new ways to invite people to come and see and so be taught the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Missionaries were kept from doing the work in the way it has been done for generations. Through prayer, hard work, and a resulting stream of revelation, we found better ways. The Lord went before our face in this, as He always does.”
The men and women gathered for the 2021 seminar enter the mission field at a time when missionaries have worked faithfully through the trials created by a worldwide pandemic. Perhaps some of those missionaries are their own children or grandchildren.
“What they and you learned is that, for the faithful, trials produce greater faith,” said President Eyring. “That blessing and others always follow those who endure well in the Lord’s service. That will be true for you and for your missionaries.”
Concluding, President Eyring said it is his prayer that the new mission leaders — and the missionaries they serve — will feel joy in their service to God. “May you see His hand in your work and in your families. I promise you that angels will attend you and your missionaries.”