Focus on preparing 3 ‘needful things,’ Elder Gong teaches missionaries

PROVO, Utah — Citing the Lord’s invitation — used twice, in Doctrine and Covenants sections 88 and 109 — to “prepare every needful thing,” Elder Gerrit W. Gong invited full-time missionaries to focus on preparing three needful things to become faithful and valiant in their sacred missionary service.

The member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — who spoke with his wife, Sister Susan Gong, in a Provo Missionary Training Center devotional Tuesday night, Sept. 21 — detailed three needful things:

  1. Seek perfection in Christ, not the perfectionism of the world;
  2. Follow the doctrine of Christ and invite others to do so as well;
  3. Preach Christ Jesus the Lord and the fulness of His restored gospel and Church, including as found in “Preach My Gospel,” chapter 3.

“These needful things will bless you, your companions, the friends and investigators you will find, teach and baptize. They will bless you and the members and leaders you will come to love and work with in unity.”

Elder and Sister Gong spoke to new missionaries training at the Provo (Utah) MTC; Elder Marcus B. Nash, a General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Missionary Department, conducted the devotional, which was broadcast Wednesday to those in the England and Ghana missionary training centers and all missionaries training online at home. It will also be posted on the missionary portal.

Missionaries listen as Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks for a devotional broadcast at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.
Missionaries listen as Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks for a devotional broadcast at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Perfection in Jesus Christ

“To seek perfection in Christ is to be patient, full of kindness and long-suffering, with ourselves and those around us,” Elder Gong said. “To seek perfection in Christ is to put aside the self-centered perfectionism of the world.”

He labeled the perfectionism of the world as a treadmill. “The more we focus on our inadequacies or imperfections, the more inadequate or imperfect we feel,” he said. “Too often, the perfectionism of the world reduces our self-esteem and even our faith. Instead of bringing us closer to the Savior, the perfectionism of the world focuses us on us, drawing us inward, instead of toward Jesus Christ.”

He also encouraged the missionaries to act on the opportunities they will have to help others get off that treadmill. “Many people are caught in the social media trap of ‘insta-perfect.’ Insta-perfect curates body image, social circle, travel and adventures, smartest person in the room with the best shoes. These are curated images, which are not real. They are not realistic. In some cases, they contribute to depression or anxiety. Even though we know they are not real, if we let them, they can make us feel inadequate, somehow not enough, imperfect.”

As representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, missionaries offer a better way — inviting others to come to the Savior Jesus Christ, and the true perfection He offers, line upon line through His grace and power, the Apostle said.

“So, our first needful thing to believe and know perfection is in Jesus Christ, the Holy One of Israel, the author and finisher of our faith, the Only Begotten and Beloved Son of God our Eternal Father.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, holds scriptures as he speaks to missionaries for a devotional broadcast at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.
Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, holds scriptures as he speaks to missionaries for a devotional broadcast at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Follow the doctrine of Christ

The missionary purpose is found in the doctrine of Christ — inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Chris and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.

“Our primary purpose is not to invite others to come to Church or even to join the Church,” Elder Gong said. Rather the primary missionary purpose “is to invite others to come unto Jesus Christ, to learn of and love Him, and to follow His perfect example, which includes baptism by immersion. It is a true and wonderful gospel principle that we feel closer to our Savior as we help others draw closer to Him.”

He showed missionaries how to focus on patterns that illuminate the doctrine of Christ, as taught in 2 Nephi 31, looking for and studying references to the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost as well as baptism and the symbolism of water and fire, and the fact that these are addressed to beloved brethren and sisters.

“This personal element, this urgency to speak to real people with significant messages, is also part of our gospel pattern,” Elder Gong said. “Now, let us put it all together. When we speak of the doctrine of Christ, we see patterns — the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, following Jesus Christ and keeping His commandments, the symbolism of baptism of water and fire, and inviting with urgency our beloved brothers and sisters.”

Missionaries listen as Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks for a devotional broadcast at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.
Missionaries listen as Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, speaks for a devotional broadcast at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Preach Christ Jesus the Lord

“As the Apostle Paul says, ‘we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord’ (2 Corinthians 4:5),” Elder Gong taught.

He warned the missionaries against “Bible bashing or scripture bashing,” when others bait or debate with missionaries.

“If you confront questions or issues with which you are unfamiliar or unsure, focus on the essentials you know. You may not know everything — no one does. But you know and you will learn what you need to invite honest seekers of gospel truth to draw closer to Jesus Christ. Your testimony can invite each soul to follow Jesus Christ’s example to be kind, compassionate and to find joy on His covenant path. Because this is His work, He will help you. Trust Him, always give Him the credit and glory, with faith and gratitude.”

Sister Susan Gong and Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, hold hands before they speak to missionaries for a devotional broadcast at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021.
Sister Susan Gong and Elder Gerrit W. Gong, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, hold hands before they speak to missionaries for a devotional broadcast at the Provo Missionary Training Center in Provo on Tuesday, Sept. 21, 2021. Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Becoming whole through the Atonement of Jesus Christ

In her message, Sister Gong asked: “What do we do when we feel inadequate or useless or broken?”

Heavenly Father has known from the beginning that life was not meant to be easy, and that is why His wondrous plan has always centered on the Savior and His atoning sacrifice, she said.

“We turn to the Savior in faith and humility, ready to repent and accept Him as our Savior. When we do this, He will heal us. Through His Atonement of infinite and eternal love, He can make us whole again.

“This process can take time, but through the process He will give us peace and strength. We are never so broken that we can’t be made whole through Jesus Christ.”

In Japan, the art of kintsugi features pieces of broken porcelain reattached together by using a special lacquer glue. Before the glue hardens, artisans cover it in gold dust, making the once-broken seams in the pottery shimmer and the repaired piece even more beautiful, stronger and valuable than before it had been broken.

Sister Gong added: “Someday we will look back at our lives and see patterns of our Savior’s healing power. We will be grateful then for life’s challenges and trials, which made us stronger and more beautiful as we heal and grow through our Savior’s love.”

The healing of the Atonement of Jesus Christ happens as one invites Him into his or her life, humbly repents and in faith strives to keep His commandments, Sister Gong said.

“We and those we love are never beyond the Savior’s ability to heal us — if we turn to Him. There is no point of no return,” she said.

“I pray that we will try every day to keep His commandments and repent, so we can come to know the Savior and to feel His love in our lives. This is the ‘good news’ you are called to share with God’s precious children.”

Following the devotional, Elder and Sister Gong, Elder and Sister Nash, and the Provo MTC presidency and their wives — President Ben and Sister Kerry Porter, President David and Sister Kathryn Moon, and President Allen and Sister Denise Alexander — joined in greeting missionaries.