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RSVP to the Savior’s invitation to come unto Him, President Kusch teaches at Ensign College devotional

Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch speaks at a campus devotional on becoming more devoted disciples of Jesus Christ

The Savior has issued repeated invitations to come unto Him.

“Yea, verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life” (3 Nephi 9:14).

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

“Behold, he sendeth an invitation unto all men, for the arms of mercy are extended towards them, and he saith: Repent and I will receive you” (Alma 5:33).

When a formal invitation is extended, it is customary to request an RSVP, Ensign College President Bruce C. Kusch said during a campus devotional on Tuesday, April 18.

“So this day, brothers and sister, my question to you is: ‘How will you RSVP to the Savior’s personal invitation to come unto Him?’” he asked students gathered in the school’s multipurpose room.

Three women sit in metal folding chairs while listening to a devotional held at Ensign College.
Students listen to an Ensign College devotional held in the multipurpose room on April 18, 2023. | Ensign College

One person who responded affirmatively to the Savior’s invitation, President Kusch said, is Francis Webster — a Martin Handcart Company pioneer best known for silencing a contentious Sunday School class criticizing Church leaders who allowed the Willie and Martin Handcart companies to leave dangerously late in the season.

“You are discussing a matter you know nothing about,” Webster said, giving his personal testimony of the miracles he witnessed on the journey. “The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.”

This is only a small part of Webster’s story. President Kusch taught, “Lessons [the Webster family] learned and the legacy they left illustrate and testify of a willingness to plant their feet firmly on the covenant path as consecrated, capable and trusted disciples of Jesus Christ.”

Webster and his wife, Elizabeth Webster, could afford to cross the plains by wagon, but chose to make the journey by handcart in order to pay for nine additional Church members to travel with them from England. During the journey, they supported so many others that they were “the only one in the company to complete the journey supporting more family members at the end, than at the beginning,” President Kusch said.

After arriving in Salt Lake City, the Webster family headed south to settle in Cedar City, Utah, “becoming pillars of righteous influence in the region,” President Kusch said. In the Church, Francis Webster served as a bishopric counselor, high councilor and stake presidency counselor, and in the community, he was mayor of Cedar City for a time and helped create Branch Agricultural College, which would eventually become Southern Utah University.

President Bruce C. Kusch stands at a podium while speaking during an Ensign College devotional held in the multipurpose room on April 18, 2023.
President Bruce C. Kusch speaks during an Ensign College devotional held in the multipurpose room on April 18, 2023. | Ensign College

“What made the difference for Francis and Elizabeth and what is the lesson for us? It is this: They made the choice to willingly let God prevail in their lives — come what may,” President Kusch taught.

Each person must make the choice to come unto Christ and joyously accept His invitation, he continued. This is only made possible by one’s desire and willingness to change. “Making changes in our lives through daily repentance to come unto Christ is a sign of our willingness to give up what we are doing for something better — it is the peace and joy that comes as we exercise complete faith in Jesus Christ and His infinite and eternal Atonement,” President Kusch said.

Like a hiker stopping regularly to catch their breath, look back on the view and renew their energy to keep going, it is wise to stop and evaluate one’s progress along the covenant path — never detouring from it in the process — President Kusch taught. “We might ask ourselves this reflective question: How am I doing in my efforts to come unto Christ? As you consider this question, it is important that you give yourself permission to be a work in progress.”

A man sits and takes notes while listening to an Ensign College devotional.
Students listen to an Ensign College devotional held in the multipurpose room on April 18, 2023. | Ensign College

Just as the Savior issues invitations to come unto Him, living prophets such as President Russell M. Nelson do the same. President Kusch listed 13 ways President Nelson has invited all to do to come unto Christ:

  • Make and keep sacred covenants
  • Stay on the covenant path
  • Gather Israel on both sides of the veil
  • Use the correct name of the Savior’s Church
  • Serve and minister with love
  • Seek personal revelation and fine tune one’s personal capacity to “hear Him”
  • Take charge of one’s testimony and seek truth from true sources
  • Allow God to prevail in one’s life
  • Focus on the temple and build one’s spiritual foundation on temple covenants
  • Root out racism, turn back on contentious and judgmental behavior, and seek to be peacemakers
  • Interact with others in higher and holier ways
  • Bury any and all weapons of war that drive the Spirit away
  • Remember one’s true identity as children of God, children of the covenant, and disciples of Jesus Christ

“These loving, prophetic pleadings of President Russell M. Nelson focus our thoughts, our actions and our desires on coming unto Christ,” President Kusch said. “A daily desire to allow God to prevail in our lives helps us make righteous decisions and take righteous action.”

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In closing, President Kusch said that “as we consider our RSVP to the Savior’s invitation to come unto Him, I pray this day our response will be, ‘I’m all in!’”

In her remarks, Sister Alynda Kusch taught that warnings are a good thing when driving a car, when an enemy is coming quietly in the night, or when protecting valuable possessions. They can come in many forms, such as a car’s warning lights or a watchman on the tower sounding the alarm.

Heavenly Father has also giving His children spiritual watchmen — prophets and apostles. “Watchmen on spiritual towers have an elevated view and see things from a heavenly perspective,” Sister Kusch said. They are vigilant, will tell the truth regardless of public opinion or societal trends, and warn of things still afar off.

Sister Alynda Kusch stands at a podium while speaking during an Ensign College devotional held in the multipurpose room on April 18, 2023.
Sister Alynda Kusch speaks during an Ensign College devotional held in the multipurpose room on April 18, 2023. | Ensign College

Sister Kusch shared the experience of a friend of hers who chose to follow two latter-day prophets’ invitations to read the Book of Mormon every day. Despite working full time on the night shift at a hospital, she diligently obeyed the invitation.

Then COVID-19 hit, beginning the most difficult two-and-a-half years of her life.

In a letter to Sister Kusch, her friend wrote: “Every night, as I walked through the atrium to the front door, I felt the strength of the Lord and the power of ministering angels lift me. I was carried through the night, and I learned the power of the Spirit as He whispered to me what to do, what to say. I saw concourses of angels surrounding each of my nurses literally lifting with them as they cared for the patients who could not even lift an arm.

“Had it not been for the words of two prophets that I chose to embrace, I would not have been prepared and I would have crumbled under the weight of what I was given to do.”

Sister Kusch invited the students to “read the words of living watchmen upon the tower, and as you do, record the words and phrases that speak to your heart. Look for warnings, pleadings, promises and blessings — they are all there.”

In closing she testified, “We can be lifted and blessed and strengthened beyond what we can imagine, and receive blessings that the Lord stands ready to bestow upon us if we look and listen and follow.”

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