‘You will have no end to those you help to repent,’ says Elder Andersen to MTC missionaries

‘Do not be afraid to become more than you are — to do, to become, to overcome, to share,’ said Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

PROVO, Utah — While serving as the France Bordeaux Mission president, Elder Neil L. Andersen wished he could keep his missionaries from going through difficulties. He prayed to know how to ease their burdens but instead received unexpected direction.

“The Lord would always answer my prayers with this response: ‘Don’t do anything, Brother Andersen. Let [the missionary] get on his knees and come to Me, and I will heal him. ... You are not there to save him; I am.’”

Missionaries can turn to the Savior for His answers and relief, said Elder Andersen, now serving in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. As a missionary moves closer to Christ, his or her prayers become more fervent.

“A mission not only is important in gathering Israel,” he said, “but it’s important to you so that that core of your soul is tied to the Savior. ... If you have that core, where you know that Jesus is the Christ and that He loves you, all will work well for you.”

Elder Andersen spoke on Tuesday, April 11, to missionaries in the Provo Missionary Training Center, with the devotional broadcast to MTCs around the world. His wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, spoke briefly as well, and their messages centered on a missionary’s responsibility in doing, becoming, overcoming and sharing.

Elder Andersen, a man in a suit and tie waving to a congregation of missionaries, with his wife holding his hand.
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles waves to the group of missionaries and says, “Good to see you all” as he and his wife, Sister Kathy Andersen, arrive to speak at the Provo MTC on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Doing as a missionary

“One of the things that you’re going to develop even stronger,” Elder Andersen told the missionaries, “is a clear understanding of what you know, what you believe and what you feel.” What a missionary knows, believes and feels has a strong impact on what they do.

On the same day as this devotional, Elder Seth Rascón — a missionary from Ohio preparing to serve in the California Oakland/San Francisco Mission — went with his Provo MTC district to the temple.

Listening to the MTC devotional later in the day solidified the importance of the work of salvation: “I was feeling a bit down,” said Elder Rascón, “and then hearing the talk from Elder Neil L. Andersen reignited myself again, just reminded me what I did today [in the temple].”

Obedience is like a big hourglass, according to Elder Andersen; it can be difficult at first for a missionary to be comfortable with a stricter standard of obedience. But once he or she learns exact obedience, like sand passing through the hourglass’s center, “suddenly, life opens up for you.”

Elder Andersen, a man in a suit coat and tie speaking from a pulpit and smiling at the congregation.
“As you keep the commandments, that gift of peace will be given to you,” says Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the Provo MTC on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Becoming as a missionary

As a young missionary in the MTC, Elder Andersen had a hard time being at peace with his new calling: “I was in a struggle to become someone I wanted to be. I prayed for peace. But as you keep the commandments, that gift of peace will be given to you.”

Becoming a disciple of Christ is more than just learning about Him. “It does require learning about Christ, it requires the scriptures,” he said, “but then it requires acting on those beliefs and obeying and working on them.”

For example, he said, someone with a temper can work on calming it. Someone with a weak testimony of the Book of Mormon can “feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3).

“You learn, you grow, you pray,” said Elder Andersen, “and then you put those things into practice, and one builds upon the other. And as you do that, you see that they are true.”

Sister Evelyn Wayne, a Provo MTC missionary from Illinois who is preparing to serve in the North Carolina Charlotte Mission, appreciated Elder Andersen’s emphasis on becoming: “We are trying to become like our Savior, and having that brief reaffirmation from one of our Apostles on how we can become like Christ by repenting and developing that relationship with Him through prayer and through His Atonement, it’s miraculous.”

A large missionary congregation listening to Elder Andersen speaking from a pulpit at the front of the room, with a quote from President Oaks on a screen next to him.
Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles shares a quote from President Dallin H. Oaks at the Provo MTC on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Overcoming as a missionary

Serving a mission can be a struggle, Elder Andersen said, because of new situations and a new lifestyle that missionaries adapt to.

“But with the experience of a mission,” he said, “I learned how to lean on the Savior, depend on Him, seek Him and let Him comfort me as I moved through the challenges.”

Sister Allie Bond, a Provo MTC missionary from Rhode Island who is preparing to serve in the Scotland/Ireland Mission, found comfort in this message: “When you’re a missionary, you’re going to face a lot of really hard things. And part of that is that you have to learn to trust in Christ, because He’s the ultimate person that can save you.”

Elder Andersen testified that even when success from missionary efforts is not immediate, missionaries can trust in God’s timetable.

“We keep pressing forward, doing what’s right and depending on the Lord,” said Elder Andersen. “And I promise you in His name that what will come to you is not only spiritual guidance but spiritual power — the power to know, the power to believe, the power to help other people. ... As you prepare yourself, you will have experiences that will guide ... the rest of your mortal life and beyond.”

Rows of missionaries in Sunday best listening and taking notes.
Missionaries listen as Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks. Sister Kathy Andersen also spoke with her husband at the Provo MTC on Tuesday, April 11, 2023. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

Sharing as a missionary

The Lord, said Elder Andersen, has given a challenge to “prepare a righteous people across every continent, every race, every language, every culture, that there would be worthy people to receive Him when He comes again.”

He acknowledged that some missionaries will labor in parts of the world with more or fewer baptisms than other places. No matter how many baptisms a missionary sees in his or her service, “you will have no end to those you help to repent.”

“You teach and help those who are ready to come closer to Christ. You teach them who He is. You help them know that they should match their life with His mission, with His teachings. ... You let people know that inside of you, you have developed a very firm witness of Him.”

As you serve righteously, your missionary name tag “will be a badge of great honor for you through all eternity,” said Elder Andersen to missionaries around the world. “Wear it well. Do not be afraid to become more than you are — to do, to become, to overcome, to share.”

‘Never regret sharing your testimony’

After Sister Andersen’s mother, Martha Williams, was baptized as the first Latter-day Saint in her family, the first thing she wanted to do was to share the gospel with her best friend, Iris Larson. But Larson — a loving, devoted Christian — wasn’t interested in joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Many years later, after Larson’s daughter Danette started attending Brigham Young University as a nonmember, Danette decided to be baptized.

“Now, not only was my mother’s great desire that her best friend be baptized,” Sister Andersen recalled to her missionary audience, “but Danette wanted her mother and father to ... have the blessings of the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Missionaries started teaching Larson, but it wasn’t until she turned 95 years old — February of this year — that she decided to be baptized.

Sister Andersen said, “There will be many days when you teach wonderful men and women who are believers of Jesus Christ, and they may not accept the gospel at that moment. ... If you will speak of Jesus Christ, you will never, never regret sharing your testimony with a person, regardless of whether or not they accept to be baptized.”

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