PROVO, Utah — It was a close baseball game, but after Francisco Cabrera hit a two-run single in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Atlanta Braves advanced to the World Series in 1992. The next morning, the front page of a Sunday paper showed a photo of Cabrera, with his bat in the center of the picture.
“I thought, ‘What if that bat could speak?’” said Bishop L. Todd Budge, second counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, to missionaries in the Provo Missionary Training Center. The bat might recount how amazing it felt to send the baseball flying and to witness the victory firsthand from home plate. Yet the bat itself didn’t offer the winning hit.
“That’s what it’s like to be a missionary,” Bishop Budge continued. “It’s not to be the home run hitter — that’s God — but to be the bat. You just want to be the best bat you can be. You want to be an instrument in God’s hand. He’ll take each of you in His hands and do some of the most amazing miracles, and you’ll be right where the action is.”
On Tuesday, Nov. 28, Bishop Budge spoke to new missionaries at a devotional in Provo, Utah. He was joined by his wife, Sister Lori Budge, who also spoke. They talked about drawing closer to the Savior and helping others do the same by internalizing and sharing His light.
Bishop Budge said, “There’s no greater blessing than to be an instrument in God’s hand.”
Inviting others to come unto Christ
A missionary’s purpose is to “invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.” Fulfilling this purpose starts with internalizing these principles before encouraging others to follow them.
“In order to be a successful missionary,” said Bishop Budge, “we must first be committed to the process of coming unto Christ, through repentance, in order to help others make commitments that will bring them closer to Jesus Christ through repentance.”
When they find themselves drifting from righteousness, he said, missionaries can repent to become more powerful instruments in the Lord’s hand and accordingly see His miracles.
“You can teach repentance more authentically and powerfully if you are repenting every day yourself,” Bishop Budge said, because a missionary’s repentance amplifies his or her purpose of inviting others to Christ.
Missionary success comes from effort and love
“Your success does not depend on how others choose to respond to you or to your invitations,” he said, because they have agency to accept the gospel message or not. “Your responsibility is to teach clearly and powerfully, so they can make an informed choice that will bless them. In other words, your success is not dependent on anybody else.”
Missionary efforts do not need to be perfect, Bishop Budge said, but God “does expect us to try. President [Russell M.] Nelson often says, ‘The Lord loves effort.’ It’s not about perfection. It’s about effort, it’s about desire and it’s about commitment.”
A powerful way to show this commitment to preaching the gospel is to follow the second great commandment to “love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mark 12:31).
“I used to think that the best way to love someone was to help them,” said Bishop Budge. “But as I thought about it, I think really the best way to help someone is to love them.”
Sharing the light of Christ through actions
Missionaries can share the love of Christ with those around them through their actions. The Savior’s Himself declared in 3 Nephi 18:24, “Hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up.”
“You are not the light; He is the light,” Bishop Budge explained. “His light shines through you so that others can feel and see and come to know Him.”
Elder Carson Mills from Morgan, Utah — who is assigned to the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission and has a temporary reassignment to the Texas Houston East Mission — said service is a key part of missionary work.
“Christ always served the people He taught,” said Elder Carson, “and service is a great way to feel the Spirit and to share the love of Christ with other people.”
His companion, Elder Daniel Talbert, from Renton, Washington — also assigned to the Bolivia Cochabamba Mission with a temporary reassignment to the Utah Ogden Mission — said that missionaries plant seeds for people all over the world to come unto their Savior.
Elder Talbert said, “That’s why it’s really important that not only we provide the knowledge and opportunity to come unto Christ with words, but also through our actions.”
The Savior ‘is our perfect friend’
In his final general conference address before his death on Nov. 12, President M. Russell Ballard — then Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — said, “I know that Jesus is the Christ. He is our Savior, our Redeemer. He is our best friend.”
Sister Budge said, “Isn’t it amazing that we not only have a Redeemer, but we have a friend?” She continued, “Jesus Christ is our perfect and constant companion. I love that idea; He is our perfect friend.”
While serving as a mission leader with her husband, Sister Budge visited the temple with a large group of their missionaries. She noticed a picture of the resurrected Savior with outstretched arms.
“The thought came so strongly to my mind that He was embracing them, that He loved them, and that He was even saying, ‘These are mine.’ Elders and sisters, you are His. He does love you. He knows you. And I hope that throughout your mission, you will learn to know and love Him even more. That will be one of the greatest blessings of your mission.”