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Youth invited to worldwide event with Elder Gong about doing ‘all things through Christ’

Thousands of Salt Lake-area youth attend recording of the devotional in the Conference Center; watch the broadcast Sunday, Jan. 29

When 18-year-old Sam Wood first learned that the 2023 youth theme would be Philippians 4:13, he didn’t think much about the words or how they might apply to him.

On Sunday, Jan. 22, Sam’s perspective changed as he — along with thousands of other youth in the Salt Lake area — attended the recording of the worldwide devotional with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in the Conference Center on Temple Square.

As he listened to the youths’ testimonies on stage — and counsel from Elder Gong, Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon and Young Men General President Steven J. Lund — “the fact that I really can do all things through Christ really struck me,” Sam told the Church News after the recording.

“And honestly, that’s something that’s going to be important for me because I’m really nervous about going on a mission. When school ends, it’s one of the main options. And I think being able to draw that strength from that courage through Christ is going to be really important.”

The worldwide event for youth titled “I Can Do All Things Through Christ” will be available for viewing on Sunday, Jan. 29, at 4 p.m. Mountain Time. 

The devotional includes video segments of Elder Gong, President Cordon, President Lund and eight of their youth friends hiking a mountain to introduce the 2023 youth theme. They discuss how to find joy and strength in Christ. 

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Photos from the recording of the worldwide youth event with Elder Gong
Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, center, is pictured with youth and Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon, second from right, and Young Men General President Steven J. Lund, right, at Ensign Peak in Salt Lake City. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

An invitation from Church leaders

Elder Gong extended a personal invitation to youth in a video posted on his social media channels on Sunday, Jan. 22. 

“Do you ever feel it is hard to connect or belong?” he asked. “Perhaps life feels like climbing a mountain and you’re wondering how to get up it. Or maybe life is full of joy and you want to share and shout it from the mountaintop.

“Come join us on Jan. 29 for the first worldwide youth devotional of the year. Let’s learn together how the Lord can help us summit any mountain and connect with heaven and each other in every joy.”

While talking to the Church News after the dress rehearsal of the event, President Cordon and President Lund also extended invitations for youth worldwide to tune in.

President Cordon encouraged youth to gather with friends to view the broadcast. “It’s a lot more fun to watch a movie with others, and this broadcast is going to be phenomenal. So grab a pen, paper and friends — and popcorn,” she said with a smile. 

“This will be a fun, joyful opportunity to receive personal revelation. Whatever thoughts and impressions come, write it down. It may not be anything anyone said but the Lord will answer the longings of your heart and things that are important to you. What matters to you matters to Him, because you matter to Him.”

President Lund added: “This is the kind of activity where it’ll be easy for the Lord to talk to you because this will be an environment where it’ll be easy for you to get personal direction. Come ready to receive that. …

“Come be together with us. We want you here.”

What youth hosts said

Natali Gallardo and Bryson Ripley are two of eight youth who participate in the devotional with Elder Gong, President Cordon and President Lund.

Natali, a 17-year-old who immigrated with her family from Venezuela and lives in Eagle Mountain, Utah, commented on all the preparation that went into the event. “Everybody is so dedicated and we’ve all prayed and fasted for this,” she said at the dress rehearsal.

For those who watch, “I personally think that this devotional will either give them something that they need right now or something that they will need in the future. And it’s always something that they’re going to be able to fall back on,” Natali said.

Youth hosts Ammon Downs, Natali Gallardo and Joseph Andelin II, back left to right, and Hannah Lamoreaux, Bryson Ripley and Teji Nelson, front left to right, talk on stage at the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, during a recording of the worldwide youth devotional with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News

Bryson, 17, from Woodland Hills, Utah, said he hopes those who watch feel strength from gathering with their fellow youth and know that they are not alone.

“Before all this,” he said of participating in the devotional, “I was worried I was the only person living my standards. It was so hard because I didn’t see a lot of my other friends living that same way. When I was put together with these incredible youth, it opened my eyes that there are people out there. 

“And so if we can keep that in mind when we’re in those hard times and say, ‘There are other youth around the world living my standards and it’s all going to work out in the end’ — that was super powerful for me.”

What attendees said

Norah Anderson, 12, from Murray, Utah, felt the strength that Bryson mentioned. She said sometimes she feels like there aren’t many people who share her beliefs, but being surrounded by so many other youth in the Conference Center proved her wrong.

“I realized that so many people believe, and that this gospel must be the right one because so many people know that it’s true, and so they came here,” she said. 

Youth wave in the Conference Center of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Salt Lake City on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2023, prior to a recording of a worldwide youth devotional with Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. | Ryan Sun, Deseret News

Norah pointed out how youth were included in various parts of the devotional. “I really liked how they just had some of the youth singing the songs. Youth can do important things and you don’t have to be older to do that,” she said.

The music was something that also stood out to her friend, 14-year-old Abriana Betcher, also of Murray.

“I just really liked the music that went with the youth theme because it helped us to know, like at least for me, that the Lord can help us through everything and that with Him, we can do everything,” Abriana said. “We don’t have to doubt our faith in the Lord because He will always be there.”

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For Kohen Gerrard, being in the Conference Center for the first time was particularly memorable. “It was awesome to be invited and to come,” said the 16-year-old from Layton, Utah. “It was cool to see the production and how they film it and also hear the different testimonies of the youth because that’s really relatable.” 

Ruby Jones, a 17-year-old from Bountiful, Utah, said she appreciated the message about navigating life’s paths with the Savior’s help. “I just love the message and how simple it is. And how it has a sense of adventure to it, because it is exciting. ... I really felt the Spirit.”

How to watch the devotional

Watch the worldwide devotional for youth beginning Jan. 29 on:

The event will be available in Cantonese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

Find the 2023 youth music album and theme song, youth theme artwork, activity ideas, and other resources at Youth.ChurchofJesusChrist.org.

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