In a first-of-its-kind event, youth around the world gathered to bear testimony of Jesus Christ to fill the world with testimonies for a 24-hour time period.
At the beginning of the gatherings at 7 p.m. in each area on Oct. 22, youth heard a message and a testimony from the Prophet, President Russell M. Nelson.
“My dear young friends,” he said, “thank you for attending this most memorable meeting. I think about you and pray for you often.”
President Nelson testified during his remarks that Jesus Christ and His restored gospel are “the greatest sources of truth and strength on earth.”
Following the messages from President Nelson, Young Men General President Steven J. Lund and Young Women General President Emily Belle Freeman, youth were invited to share their own testimonies of Jesus Christ — and how He has strengthened them.
Samuel Oliveira Alves, a young man in the Floriano Branch in the Brasil Teresina Mission, said as he listened to President Nelson’s testimony, he felt his own testimony being strengthened.
“I know that if we exercise our faith, things will work out according to the level of faith we have,” he said. “I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Savior’s Church on earth and that it was restored by a 14-year-old boy like me, Joseph Smith. I know we will be safe if we follow the Prophet.”
Principles for the youth
President Nelson gave the youth some principles for them to think about and pray about, including knowledge about who they really are:
- A child of God.
- A child of the covenant.
- A disciple of Jesus Christ.
President Nelson said these three identifiers are more important than any other identifiers. He invited youth to review these truths over and over in their minds and to say them out loud.
“What’s more, you are also the future of the Church and of the world. Not only do I believe in you, but your Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ believe in you,” he said.
He told the youth they were sent to earth now because God knew they could be strong and courageous. They were not sent to earth to fail, but sent to succeed and to help others succeed.
“As you follow Jesus Christ, you will have all the strength and courage you need to face opposition in this hazardous world,” President Nelson said. “I promise you that.”
President Nelson told the youth to learn how to receive personal revelation and to work on improving each day to recognize the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
“He will help you know what to do and what not to do, where to go and where not to go. He will help you to discern who are your true friends and who are not. The Holy Ghost will give you strength and keep you safe,” he said.
Other principles President Nelson shared with the youth were the Word of Wisdom and the law of chastity. He promised them that obeying these commandments will give them physical and spiritual strength.
He invited the youth to prayerfully ask God to help them exercise stronger faith: “Faith in our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son combined with daily repentance will increase your access to godly power.”
The Prophet’s promise for the youth
President Nelson explained that if anyone felt that they had strayed off the covenant path too far or too long, this is not true. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, their future could be bright, even brilliant.
“Speak with your parents and your bishop or branch president. They will help you to get on the path of progress once again. Please come back to the joy and safety of the covenant path,” he said.
President Nelson said a life without God is a life filled with fear — but a life with God is a life filled with peace, joy and power. “Resolve to live your life with God.”
He concluded with his testimony that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are ready to bless them and will not forsake them. “You ‘can do all things through Christ’ (Philippians 4:13).”
Testimonies from President Freeman and President Lund
President Freeman and President Lund gave their recorded messages in the Light of the World Garden at Utah’s Thanksgiving Point. The garden is full of large sculptures of Jesus Christ.
President Freeman stood in front of the statue called “It Is I; Be Not Afraid,” symbolizing when Jesus walked to His disciples on the water (Matthew 14:22-27).
“I have a firm testimony that Jesus Christ will come to us, that He will not forsake us, no matter what our story looks like,” President Freeman said.
She testified that she has known His grace and received His strength: “I know He lives because I have seen Him in my stories and I have felt His love. I love Him. He is my greatest friend.”
Through Him, people can do all things, she said.
President Lund chose the sculpture depicting the First Vision — where the Savior ministered to a teenager, Joseph Smith.
“It’s fascinating to me that Heavenly Father answered his prayer by first calling him by name. Heavenly Father knew him,” President Lund said.
Then He introduced him to His Son, saying, “This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him.”
“Our most important prayers will be answered as we come to better understand and know the Savior,” President Lund said. “As we pray to Heavenly Father, He will help us to know the Savior, and the Savior will help us to know everything else.”
The two general officers invited the youth to gather again sometime this month for a lesson or activity to study the Prophet’s message. Then they invited the youth to bear their own testimonies and witnesses of how they have found faith in Christ.
Youth gather around the world
In the Durban South Africa Stake, youth from the Mayville Ward and Berea Ward met together to share their testimonies.
“It was a heart warming and an inspiring experience listening to their testimonies,” Mayville Ward Young Women president, Sister Yanga Oluwadare, wrote to the Church News. “The experience enhanced my testimony as well and helped me remember that they are truly the children of our living God and He has a great plan for their future.”
In West Africa, the young men and young women in Gambia’s new Banjul Branch participated as members of the only branch of the Church in the country. But Sister Emily Rowberry, who is serving there as a member and leader support missionary with her husband, Elder Greg Rowberry, knows this group of youth has potential and power.
“They truly are children of God, children of the covenant, and disciples of Jesus Christ. They are the future of the Church,” she said.
Philippines youth shared many of their thoughts on social media with the hashtag #AllThingsThroughChrist. Shiloh Sabaten from Santa Barbara, Philippines, wrote on Facebook, “I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer. I know that He died for us. I know that through His Atonement we can be saved and we can go back to His presence again.”
In the Santiago Philippines Stake, Santiago 2nd Ward Bishop Romulo R. Natural said this about their gathering with the Santiago 1st Ward:
“It is so good to listen to the testimony of these young men and young women. They all testified of the blessings of the restoration and living prophets and apostles. They also shared their witness of the blessings of studying the scriptures in ‘Come, Follow Me’ and in seminary.”
The Church’s Caribbean Area made a video of youth bearing their testimonies, including a young man named Jordan Smith who said, “I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and Redeemer and I know that He died for our sins on the cross.”
From Brazil, Guaíba Jardim Ward Bishop Rafael Dos Santos Vargas in the Porto Alegre Brazil Moinhos de Vento Stake said about the gathering: “It was a very special meeting. Everyone bore their testimony. The Spirit was so strong that we were brought to tears.”
A large group of youth in the Uberaba Brazil Stake gathered in their meetinghouse. Sandro Ribeiro wrote that after hearing from the Prophet, the youth bore testimonies that “edified us and filled our hearts with joy.”
The testimony meeting for the Estrella Sur Ward in the Santiago Chile San Pablo Stake “was a unique and beautiful experience,” wrote Bishop Sebastián P. Hormazábal. “We poured out our love and heart toward our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, our Savior.”
Bishop Paul A. Romer from the Temple 2nd Ward in the Waco Texas Stake wrote to the Church News about their gathering, saying one young man in his testimony mentioned having a prayer answered where he asked for help finding friends at a new school. “Several others mentioned the peace that following Jesus Christ brings to their lives.” Bishop Romer said.
Addison Penrod, a young woman in the Fayetteville 1st Ward in the Fayetteville North Carolina Stake, said, “We all had a good time listening to youth in our stake give testimonies. We all felt the Spirit when President Nelson and other Church leaders gave their testimonies. The Spirit was strong as we got to share about our love for the Savior and His gospel.”
Youth of the West Point 16th Ward in the West Point Utah Lakeside Stake gathered in their bishop’s backyard for their testimony meeting. Zachary L. Robinson, the first counselor in the bishopric, said as the youth bore testimony, the outdoor setting “felt sacred as we heard testimonies of our Savior and His impact on each of our lives.”
Chinandega Nicaragua West Stake President Hector A. Romero Potosme said their gathering at the stake center included 70 people — youth, their leaders and friends. He said the testimony portion of the meeting was a great experience.
“This activity was very spiritual and encouraged us to continue sharing our testimony with everyone about Jesus Christ,” he said.
Youth in the Springville Ward of the Porterville California Stake met in their ward building for the event. The leaders commented on how nice the broadcast was and how the youth testified of simple truths. They also enjoyed having root beer floats afterward for dessert.
Ana Sofia Suarez, 15, from the Belén Ward in the Medellín Colombia Belén Stake shared:
“Today, when I had the opportunity to share my testimony, I learned that being with the young men and women can help us strengthen our faith, and we can also strengthen the faith of the people who listen to our testimony.”
Emanuel Hoyos, 12, from the same ward, said he felt very happy during the testimony meeting. “I felt moved to continue forward on my path to the glory of God.”
Youth in the Cairns 1st Branch in the North Queensland Australia District met at their meetinghouse at 7 p.m. their time. The district is large, explained James B. Gardner, the second counselor in the branch presidency, and it is easy to feel isolated with vast distances between their units.
A young woman who is the only active youth in the Whitsunday Branch was able to join them via Zoom.
“So not only were we brought together with fellow youth of our district, but through technology we joined with youth and parents across the globe. Surely the Lord is hastening His work as He gathers Israel,” Gardner said.