PROVO, Utah — On a day of “gratitude and thanksgiving,” Elder Ronald A Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testified to missionaries at the Provo Missionary Training Center that miracles have not ceased.
“My thoughts today are about miracles,” he said. “Miracles are divine acts, manifestations and expressions of God’s limitless power. You, every one of you here, is a miracle.”
During a special Thanksgiving devotional on Nov. 23, Elder Rasband reminded the missionaries that at a time when their peers “may be focused on the next concert, football game, test, job, or a favorite meme or selfie,” they have “chosen to turn their life over to God,” and they trust He will make more of their next 18 or 24 months than they can.
“Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, in His Church and gospel, and in our Father in Heaven’s eternal plan brought you here,” he said. “That is a miracle wrought by divine design.”
Missionaries, he said, have the same responsibility as the early disciples who were charged by the resurrected Lord, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
“You will work at the forefront of the gathering of Israel and you will witness miracles daily.”
As missionaries they will find some who know and believe in Jesus Christ and some who do not know Him at all, he said.
“But what you know is that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, Redeemer and Author and Finisher of our faith,” he said. “He was the creator of the world, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who ancient prophets promised would come. And will come again.”
Jesus lived just 32 years, he explained. “His brief ministry on earth was confined to a small sliver of land in the Middle East we call the Holy Land.”
Last year on their 50th wedding anniversary, Elder Rasband and his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, and all of their children — except their daughter and son-in-law, Rachelle and David Chase, who are presiding over the Illinois Chicago Mission — visited the Holy Land.
“Since the day Sister Rasband and I knelt at the altar in the Salt Lake Temple, the Lord has always been at the center of our covenant relationship,” said Elder Rasband. “Our trip honored our eternal marriage by visiting where Jesus taught, spoke in parables, preached sermons, atoned for the sins of every one of our Father’s children. He was crucified and then resurrected, the greatest of all His many miracles.”
The Savior, in His ministry, performed many miracles, said Elder Rasband.
“You, too, elders and sisters, have witnessed miracles — more than you realize. Yours may seem small in comparison to Jesus’ raising Lazarus from the dead (see John 11:1-44) — but the magnitude does not distinguish a miracle, only that the miracle came from God, large or small ...,” he said. “Believe me, in the mission field you will witness the miraculous hand of God in your service. Pray for it and look for it.”
Elder Rasband said he hoped in the Holy Land to do more than see sacred sites. “I personally began each day with a prayer in my heart that Heavenly Father would put someone in my path whom I could help, just as He put people in the path of Jesus and the early apostles.”
On many days, miracles happened.
In one miraculous instance, Elder Rasband was able to help his bus driver, a Christian Jordanian, obtain a Book of Mormon in Arabic. On another day plans changed, allowing the Rasband family to eat lunch with a group of young adults — including one young man who had missed an earlier interaction with Elder Rasband and prayed for an opportunity to meet him. In addition, one morning at breakfast, Elder Rasband met the Israeli ambassador to Vietnam — a country Elder Rasband was scheduled to visit. The seemingly chance meeting resulted in an opportunity for Elder Rasband to meet with the Deputy Prime Minister of Vietnam during his later visit to that country.
Each miracle happened, Elder Rasband explained, because he was praying every day, exercising faith, and asking to be an instrument in the Lord’s hands and to have the holy Apostleship bless others.
“Miracles lift people. They touch our hearts. They let us know that we are loved of God and always in His hands (see Mormon 5:23),” he said.
Near the end of the family’s visit, they went to the Garden Tomb — which may not be the exact location — which “honors the greatest miracle of all history, the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” he said.
“I bear you my testimony today as I bore it in the serenity of the garden to my family, that Jesus Christ is raised from the dead. He lives. This is His gospel, and you and I are His servants called to proclaim His word. We know Him as ‘Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6). Those titles are befitting the ‘Son of the Living God’ (Matthew 16:16), the ‘Only Begotten of the Father’ (John 3:16), a ‘God of miracles’ (2 Nephi 27:23)
“You, His missionaries, are ‘chosen out of the world,’ the Lord decrees, ‘to declare my gospel with the sound of rejoicing, as with the voice of a trump’ (Doctrine and Covenants 29:4),” he said. “You bear His name for all to see.”
During his time in the Holy Land, Elder Rasband — a “special witness of the name of Christ in all the world” (Doctrine and Covenants 107:23) — stood on the very steps where Jesus was tried by Pilate.
“These worn steps were important to me as an Apostle, His latter-day servant,” he said. “It was as if I were standing by Jesus Christ before He was led away to complete why He came to earth, to atone for the sins of all God’s children.”
Closing, Elder Rasband offered an apostolic blessing that each missionary would also stand as a witness of Christ — “as if you, too, were standing with Him on those steps in Jerusalem.”
He asked them to be both determined and humble. “May you pray for miracles and express gratitude to Him as they come. May these miracles and the answers to your prayers remind you of Jesus Christ, whose glorious and eternal work this is.”
Elder Rasband’s daughter, Shannon Rasband Norton, also addressed the missionaries and testified of God’s miracles for her family — including for her infant son, Paxton, who was born with a very rare chromosomal deletion — and for others.
“We can trust in God’s divine design and timing, knowing that all these things will be for our experience and our good. As the Primary song says, ‘Jesus is a God of miracles.’ He knows you. And He knows those you will teach. Trust Him, that He is at the helm and will give all the right blessings and miracles as He knows is best in His perfect time and His own way.”