Episode 108: President M. Russell Ballard on how living the gospel requires ‘faith in every footstep,’ with guest host Sheri Dew
In this episode of the Church News podcast, President Ballard speaks about pioneers, leadership and testimony
Episode 108: President M. Russell Ballard on how living the gospel requires ‘faith in every footstep,’ with guest host Sheri Dew
In this episode of the Church News podcast, President Ballard speaks about pioneers, leadership and testimony
On July 22, 1997, a pioneer trek reenactment honoring early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reached This Is the Place Heritage Park. President M. Russell Ballard, now Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was there watching as handcarts and wagons entered the valley 150 years after the first pioneers arrived.
At the time, President Ballard was serving as chairman of the Church’s Sesquicentennial Committee. He emphasized that the sesquicentennial was about more than wagon trains — it was an opportunity to tell the world the story of the Restoration. That opportunity continues 25 years later, as the Church marks the 175th anniversary of the pioneers entering the valley. It was a journey then that required “faith in every footstep,” just as living the gospel requires “faith in every footstep” now.
President Ballard joins this episode of the Church News podcast to talk about pioneering today. He is joined by guest host Sister Sheri Dew, executive vice president of Deseret Management Corp. and a former member of the Relief Society general presidency.
President M. Russell Ballard: I think our message is a message of love. It’s a message of inclusion. It’s a message of “Come and enjoy the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which has been restored to the earth to the Prophet Joseph Smith and those who have succeeded him in the sacred calling as apostles and prophets.” ... I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. And this is His Church and He presides over and we move about doing our work at His direction.
Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News. Welcome to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
On July 22, 1997, a pioneer trek reenactment honoring early members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 150 years after their arrival in the Salt Lake Valley, reached This Is The Place Heritage Park. President M. Russell Ballard, now Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, was there watching as handcarts and wagons entered the valley.
At the time, President Ballard was serving as chairman of the Church’s Sesquicentennial Committee. He emphasized that the sesquicentennial was about more than wagon trains. It was an opportunity to tell the world the story of the Restoration. That opportunity continues 25 years later, as the Church marks the 175th anniversary of the pioneers entering the valley. It was a journey, then, that required “faith in every footstep,” just as living the gospel requires “faith in every footstep” now. To talk about pioneering today, President Ballard joins this episode of the Church News podcast, along with guest host Sister Sheri Dew, executive vice president of Deseret Management Corporation and a former member of the Relief Society general presidency.
Sister Sheri Dew: President, I was in your office one day when you were reflecting about the assignment you received to chair the sesquicentennial events. And all the different things that were done to celebrate the sesquicentennial of the Church, including the writing of a new song, “Faith in Every Footstep.” Let’s just dive right into this question about the sesquicentennial and tell me, what were the high points for you? And I really want to hear about that song.
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, I think the 150th year celebration of the pioneers coming into the valley was — deserved — that tremendous celebration. And I don’t know why President [Gordon B.] Hinckley assigned me to be the chairman, but he did and we had a tremendous committee and we did a lot of very interesting things. We had handcarts coming across the plains, we had wagons and sitting up there at the monument, the First Presidency and the Twelve. And then came the handcarts and ...
Sister Sheri Dew: It was emotional.
President M. Russell Ballard: Tears appear in everybody’s eyes. It was a, it was a real celebration. And then, of course, we had a tremendous celebration down at the Brigham Young University stadium. I think we did that two nights, as I remember, Friday night and a Saturday night. And 150 years since our forefathers and some of those were mine. My great-grandfathers walked the good portion of the plains and walked into the valley. In fact, Henry Ballard, who would be my great-grandfather, hid himself up in the canyon and then at night, he saw lights on in a cabin and he went over and begged for some clothes because of the clothes that he had were not appropriately covering him. He had herded sheep for Lorenzo Snow’s family across the plains so ...
Sister Sheri Dew: So he was threadbare.
President M. Russell Ballard: He was in bad shape. And they gave him some clothing and then in his journal, he writes the next morning, that the happiest day of his life was when he walked into the Salt Lake Valley. So when you read those kinds of stories from your forefathers, who made the journey that makes the sesquicentennial — 150 years — real. And that’s what we tried to do, really, is get people to think about the price that has been paid by our forefathers, the forefathers of the founders of this part of the world.
Sister Sheri Dew: I think it worked. I remember so many things that were done that touched me very deeply. Now, the song, “Faith in Every Footstep,” how did that come about?
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, Newell Dayley was on our committee and I said, “Newell, we need a song.” We didn’t know what it would be. I think “Faith in Every Footstep” was born by Newell Dayley as he prepared that song. So then it became adopted as the theme of the sesquicentennial celebration.
Sister Sheri Dew: So when I think about that song, and how it emerged from all the work that you and your committee did, it seems interesting to me, because I think we can apply everything that song stands for to your life. When I look at the different things that have happened to you in your life, it feels like your life is an example of “Faith in Every Footstep.” So, let me just ask you an overarching question and that is: Where did you find your faith in Jesus Christ and His gospel and how have you sustained it?
President M. Russell Ballard: I think it was really real to me on my mission. I knew the Church was true. I went to Church. My parents were not fully active in my days when I was growing up, but when I was a missionary, I was assigned to serve in Nottingham, England. And I was later made the district president of the Nottingham England District. And we used to hold street meetings down in the market square in Nottingham every day — noon and in the evenings. And for some reason I didn’t have a companion, because there was — we didn’t have the right number; it was an odd number. The one that would be without a companion for a day or two would be the district president. This was the case with me. We had held this wonderful street meeting Sunday night and I’m now walking back to, what we called, our “digs” along the side of the Trent River.
Sister Sheri Dew: OK.
President M. Russell Ballard: And as I went along that walk inside the river about, just almost sunset, and it hit me that the Lord Jesus Christ knew me. I didn’t have a revelation. I didn’t see anything, but I knew. I knew that He knew and He loved me for what I was trying to do as a boy, missionary. And that established a sense of faith, I think, in my future footsteps. I had learned a lot about defending Lord Jesus Christ as a missionary. We used to have street meetings all of the time and when you defend The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you’re defending the Lord Jesus Christ. And as I have learned to do that, that’s really one of the most crowning, most fulfilling, experiences of my life, to be able to witness and testify that I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior and the Redeemer of the world. And this is His Church and He presides over it and we move about doing our work at His direction. Now, that is a wonderful thing to know and I was blessed, Sheri, to learn and have a little of that kind of an experience as a boy, a missionary, and in Nottingham, England, you know, 1948, so ...
Sister Sheri Dew: And it’s built from there. It’s just built from there.
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, it’s built from there and I think some of those experiences I had, as a missionary, like the experience along the Trent River, made it easier for me to witness and testify of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, because I felt like I knew Him. I’d never saw, I never had visions and I never heard voices, but I knew ...
Sister Sheri Dew: And it was real. It became real.
President M. Russell Ballard: It was real, yeah. It became more real as I received more and more responsibility. I became a district president of the Nottingham district and then I became a counselor to President Selvoy J. Boyer of the British mission. That was all England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. And when President Boyer went home, I became a counselor to President Stayner Richards and my mission was supposed to be over in May and President Richard said, “No, you go home and school starts in September.” So I, I had a two and a half year British mission and what a wonderful learning experience it was.
Sister Sheri Dew: A turning point, wasn’t it, in your life?
President M. Russell Ballard: Oh yeah, a turning point.
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, I said, “President Richards, all of the missionaries that I came over with, were going to tour Europe and I’ve got all those arrangements to tour Europe for 10 days before we go home.” And because I was going to go home in May and the President said, “Well just go with them and then come back.” So I’m probably one of the few missionaries that had about a seven-day vacation tour in Europe and then I came back and I took all my missionary companions, I came over with, down to Southampton, put them on the ship to send them home and then I went back and worked for another six months.
Sister Sheri Dew: And worked several more months.
President M. Russell Ballard: I came home, two days, three days before school started in September.
Sister Sheri Dew: Well, we did things a little differently than we do them today, I suppose. You know, what’s curious to me, President, is that you have a stunning pedigree and heritage in the Church, great-great-grandson of Hyrum Smith, grandson of two apostles, and yet, as you already expressed, your parents were somewhat active. At what point did it hit you that you had this remarkable heritage and what impact did that have on you when it did hit you?
President M. Russell Ballard: Probably, primarily, to be honest with you, Sheri, when I got called to be a Seventy. Now, I was called to be a bishop and I served as a bishop for six years in one ward and for two years in another ward and I served on high councils and I served as a mission president for three years in Toronto with Barbara, but it really didn’t impact like it did when I was called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. And one of those very cherished, special, impactful moments was when President Hinckley called me Sunday morning, about 7:30 in the morning, and he said, “Are you out of the shower yet?” And I say, “Oh, yeah, sure, President, I’m, we’re ready to come to church.” And he said, “Well, come to my office at 9 a.m.,” Sunday morning of general conference.
So Barbara and I ride there all the way from where we lived up on 13th South. I said, “Barbara, we’re going to be assigned to serve out somewhere in the world, so get ready for it. That os what this is about,” because that is when they were sending General Authorities out to preside over areas. So I went out and sat down with the President and he said, “I just left President Kimball,” who was at that time and not really robust, but living in the Hotel Utah, “And he has authorized me to extend a call to you to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.” Well, I started to weep and he started to weep and he embraced me and I can still feel Gordon B. Hinckley’s arms around me. And that was a very special experience that was on a Sunday morning. Sunday afternoon I was sustained. And then I have tried to live the way I was supposed to live all these years. It’s a long time. I think I’m 46 years, now, as a general authority, maybe more than that. 1976 when I was called as a Seventy and I was serving as a mission president when I was called.
Sister Sheri Dew: Thank you for sharing that. President, there are so few men in this dispensation who have had that treasured experience of being called as a prophet, seer and revelator. It’s almost impossible for the rest of us to imagine what that felt like for you and for Sister Ballard.
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, you’ve said it. And then I sat in the first chair, and looked around the circle to the other 11 apostles. Sheri, I don’t know how many times the thought has coursed through my mind, “How did this happen? What are you doing here?” And then the question is, “Am I doing everything that the Lord wants me to do?” So, I’ve tried really hard to think through, “What would the Lord want me to do?” This is His Church. We work very closely together as the Quorum of the Twelve and the First Presidency, but many, many, many times in my life, and in my ministry, I’ve been in a situation where I have had to pause, and maybe even excused myself, to find a quiet place where I could think through and inquire of the Lord: “What would you have me do here?” And I, fortunately, can witness that He lives and that the power of the Holy Ghost is sent to reveal what you do and what you say in those moments when there’s way beyond your own, personal capacity.
Sister Sheri Dew: You know, I’ve been thinking as you’ve been sharing your reflections from your point of view. And without overstating anything at all, I would just say that one of the great privileges of my life has been, from time to time, being invited to work on projects that you were overseeing. And I’ve watched you move and shake a lot of things from Church headquarters that needed a champion, needed vision, needed energy. One of the things I’ve witnessed is the way you have championed the voices of women in the Church. I’ve been listening to you talk about the importance of women in councils since I was a child, practically. And would you say something about that? Where does that understanding and that vision come from? Is it being married to the marvelous Barbara Bowen and, and seeing, learning from her? What gave you a sensitivity to the importance of the voice of women?
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, I like to say that women are a vital voice in leadership councils of the Church. I don’t know how a bishop can be able to administer a ward and meet the needs of the members of his ward without the input of the dear sisters that are presiding over the Relief Society, the Young Women and the Primary. Now, as a bishop, I listened and I had great respect for the sisters that were sitting in our ward council, because many, many times they had an insight far more accurate than the brethren. And I think it’s, women have an instinctive, you’re born with a sense of, there’s a need or something needs attention that men don’t have and so on.
Sister Sheri Dew: Or that’s different from men. At the very least, it’s different from men.
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, yeah, it’s different than men. So, to me, I’ve been an advocate all my time as a general authority that the priesthood leaders ought to help call capable, good, smart women, faithful women, to lead the auxiliaries of the Church and then they ought to be a full and participating part of a ward council. And the reason for that is the voice of women in the ward council, many, many times, is the most important voice that a bishop can hear. And I would say to any bishop who would be listening to this, “Honor the sisters that are presiding over your auxiliaries, and include them in your council meetings and look to them for counsel on matters that they will have answers that will be far better than, than the elders quorum president, or the brethren will have. Thought, Sheri, I’ve been an advocate, a great advocate of the role and the contribution that women of the Church make every day in the wards and the stakes, and most importantly, in the halls where many of them serve as mothers, or heads of households. And the Lord blessed the world with mothers and with, and with sisters, good women, who are willing to take responsibility of helping the Church move forward. So, I’m grateful that we have the dear sisters in the Church to help us try to do what the Lord wants us to do.
Sister Sheri Dew: And you had, personally, such a magnificent woman at your side, she still is at your side. She’s just stepped across the veil earlier. Tell us about the influence of, of Sister Ballard. I have to say, I’ve been in the same room with Sister Ballard, it’s got to be several hundred times. She lit up a room. She had a sense of happiness and just, warmth that lit up a room. How would you describe her influence on you?
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, I’d say it was pretty hard sometimes to live with somebody that was almost angelic. No one in our family, we have seven children and we have 43 grandchildren, and not one of them have ever heard their mother or their grandmother raise her voice, so ...
Sister Sheri Dew: Amazing
President M. Russell Ballard: It’s pretty, it’s pretty hard to live with somebody that is, well, it’s not hard to live, but it’s amazing to live with someone who’s you’ve never heard her, her get mad. You never heard her raise her voice. She won her way and she did really good at it with a smile. And sometimes, when the children were needing a little direction, just her countenance would cause them to start to want to repent and want to do what, what they ought to do, the right thing they ought to do. She was a, she is a remarkable, remarkable mother and grandmother and I miss her terribly.
Sister Sheri Dew: Let’s go back to something you were saying a minute ago when we were talking about what happened to you on your mission, the impact the mission had on you. As I’ve watched your life unfold, I have wondered, “Is the remarkable missionary zeal that you have, and everybody who knows you knows that that’s true. They know you are an amazing missionary. I was part of a media team, I think Sarah Weaver was with, we were on the same media team when we were with you in Sharon, Vermont. And several of us were standing kind of back in the hotel lobby as you came to check out of your room, and we watched you with the woman checking you out of your room. And I thought, ‘How does he do that?” In about 30 seconds, you had engaged her in a conversation about the Church and had promised to send her a copy of your book, “Our Search for Happiness,” and whatever else you were going to send her. And I remember thinking, “That was so effortless.” It was so natural. So where did that come from? How did you learn to do that? Was that cultivated? Is it just instinctive or was it cultivated on your mission, or all of the above? Because your deep desire to share the gospel and then your ability to do it are astonishing to me.
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, I think my mission, of course, had a tremendous impact on me and I had the wonderful opportunity of serving very close to two wonderful mission presidents as their counselor, but I will use an example. I was the bishop of LeGrand Richards and LeGrand Richards ...
Sister Sheri Dew: Amazing
President M. Russell Ballard: Was probably the most powerful missionary that I had ever been close to and I traveled with him several places. For example, we would sit down in the waiting room, waiting to board the airplane, and somebody would sit across the way and immediately he would be engaging them in, “What Church do you belong to?” I remember one case, and a woman, three little kids sitting with her and, and she said, “Well, we’re Lutherans,” and he said, “Oh well, that’s too bad. Let me tell you why. Let me tell you why you ought to know something about the restoration of the gospel.” And then bingo, the next 15, 20 minutes, he’s teaching the message of the restoration. And I was his bishop for a season and so, I learned a lot about being bold and open, and with a smile on your face, and being direct in declaring what we know to be true.
Elder Richards, one day we were on the plane and we were flying back East together to conduct some conferences, and he said to me, it was after his wife died, he said, “Elder Ballard, I worry when I die, whether I’m going to be able to find mommy,” that’s, was his wife, “when I get over there.” And I said, “Elder Richards, in your case it could be a real problem.” And I can still feel his hand on my knees, he said, “What do you mean by that, my boy?” I said, “Elder Richards, when you die, there’ll be so many people that will come to you and thank you for your testimony, for your converting them to the true Church, a marvelous work in a wonder and all the things you have done to bring the gospel into their lives. It’ll be a big crowd and you might have a hard time finding mommy in the crowd.” Well and he of course said, “Ah, you don’t mean that.” And I said, “Oh yes I do.” I think that’s what we need to think a little bit about. I hope that when the time comes that I go from there to the next, next experience, that there’ll be some people there that will have appreciated my effort to try to share the gospel with them and help them receive their ordinances and covenants on this side of the veil.
Sister Sheri Dew: I think we could absolutely say the same thing to you that you said to really, your mentor, Elder LeGrand Richards. I’m not sure I ever realized the connection there. So you watched in action, how you do it.
President M. Russell Ballard: I was his bishop, so ...
Sister Sheri Dew: Yeah, I mean, that makes all the difference to see how it’s done. Now you had a leading, guiding hand in “Preach My Gospel.” Tell us anything that you feel it’s appropriate to share about how that came about.
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, when I was executive director, head of the missionary department, we were wanting to try to get a better plan. A better way for the missionaries to present the gospel all over the world. And so, we held a lot of meetings, a lot of council meetings and we concluded that what they really needed is something that would give them the guidelines of how to be a good missionary, how to teach, and what to teach and so forth. So, in council was born the idea that we prepare a “Preach My Gospel” booklet that missionaries could have and could learn some fundamentals that would help them to be more effective. And with the great work of a lot of people, I think, “Preach My Gospel” is one of the truly great manuals that’s ever been produced in the Church and that still fulfills a very important role even today.
Sister Sheri Dew: How would you describe what impact it has had? Like, it feels like it’s fundamentally changed the way we …
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, the way impact it has had is that instead of missionaries sitting in their apartment, wondering, “Well, what will we study and what will we do and how will we approach and what is our next steps?” They, “Preach My Gospel” answers all that for them, including chapter three that teaches them simple principles to introduce the gospel to a total stranger in terms that are simple and easily understood. And I think, “Preach My Gospel” has been a tremendous resource and a help to the missionary cause of the Church and certainly to new missionaries. They love it, because it gives them a better foundation, platform to start from.
Sister Sheri Dew: Plus, I would add that several years ago, and in fact, I’ve done this more than once, I thought, “OK, I’m going use that for my manual for my own study for the next few months.” And just, it’s a great foundation. OK, let’s ...
President M. Russell Ballard: I have to just tell you about, that manual came from Heaven, because it came together so fast. And with approval, that was unbelievable. You know, in order to get a manual approved through all of the steps we have, here, at the Church takes, can take years. That one was within eight or nine months.
Sister Sheri Dew: So when we think about that, and we’re talking here about missionary work, you’ve mentioned earlier, learning to defend the Church. Teaching the gospel today, and defending the Church when necessary, is no longer for the faint of heart. It’s getting more difficult, more challenging in a world that is more openly opposing of religion, in general. And then, of course, we have our own attacks that can come and concerns expressed by others. What have you learned about dealing with opposition, verbal opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ? What have you learned about handling that?
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, be kind. Keep a smile on your face and maintain a conversation in such a way as you bring it around to where you have an opportunity to explain our position as to what we believe has occurred through Joseph Smith kneeling in a grove of trees. That’s what needs to happen. My experience is when we introduce, as quickly as we can, the reality of Joseph Smith’s story and the evidence that his story is true, because of the Book of Mormon, and what the Book of Mormon is. The Book of Mormon is, to me, the greatest evidence that Joseph is a prophet. And when that is used properly, in combination by missionaries or members, it’s not that I want to convince you as something I know, it’s, I want to show you what has happened and how God has reestablished, through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, prophets, seers and revelators the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And the evidence that Joseph is a prophet and the gospel’s been restored. One of the great evidences is the Book of Mormon. I mean, we have such a powerful story and to me, it’s the most exciting story you can possibly talk about. I love to do it and I have to say that I’m pretty bold at it. And I’ve never been criticized, or had anybody get angry at me, for trying to share with them something that I felt they needed to know.
Sister Sheri Dew: I’ve thought that in addition to making it comfortable and natural for you to just share what you know and what, you know will bless lives, that it’s made it easy for you, or maybe easier, to interact with other major religious figures. For example, you were the junior companion, if you will, to President [Russell M.] Nelson when you went in and met with Pope Francis. What was that experience like?
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, well, that was a great experience and he’s a nice man and it was very formal and, but the exciting times for me, is the opportunities I’ve had of working with bishops of the Catholic Church, right here in the Diocese of Salt Lake City. I’m pretty good friends, have always been good friends, with the Catholic bishops, because I think that friendship is a very, very important factor for, ultimately, sometimes, some way, somebody who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may say, “You know, I need to know a little bit more about this,” is what people feel, Sheri, in relationships it’s more important than what they hear or what we say in many cases. So, if I am visiting with someone and I can cause them to feel that I really love them, the Church loves them and this is something important, they can feel that they’re more likely to want to know more about it than if I just tried to do it by the book.
Sister Sheri Dew: With that in mind, some of our youth today and young adults express concern when they have family members or friends who have stepped away from the Church and they don’t know what to do. They don’t know what to say. They don’t know how to feel. If you were sitting with a group in this room of young adults and teenagers talking to them about that, how would you counsel them to respond to their friends or family members who have stepped away for a time?
President M. Russell Ballard: There’s probably several ways, but I’ve often said to people who are drifting or who are not interested or who are not even members of the Church, Sheri, the day is going to come, you’re going to die. You can’t avoid that.
Sister Sheri Dew: Can’t escape it.
President M. Russell Ballard: It going to happen. It going to happen.
Sister Sheri Dew: To all of us.
President M. Russell Ballard: Everybody. So, is there an accountability in this life for the way we live? Are we going to have an accountability of some kind when we get on the other side? One of the great blessings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is, is that it is revealed truth that has come through a prophet of God and it has the teachings, covenants and commandments that help our Heavenly Father’s children prepare for that day. And we teach those principles that help people to be good, to be nice, to strive to be righteous in their behaviors and in their relationship with their neighbors. Ultimately, those attributes will be very, very helpful as you get older and then I think when we pass through the veil, the people that we’ve been able to touch through our kindness, through our teaching, through our smiles, through our love, we may be surprised how many will be there to say “thank you.”
Sister Sheri Dew: You’ve been serving, now, as the acting president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles since 2018. What have you learned, leading the quorum, that maybe you didn’t know before you are leading the quorum? Have there been new insights?
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, one thing for sure, is that, amazed at the power and the goodness and the spiritual insight that those 11 apostles have is overwhelming. And when we are in counsel, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, I can say to you, the Church is secure and always will be secure, because the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the three apostles with who make up the First Presidency, 15 apostles, will always guide this Church in the direction it should go.
Sister Sheri Dew: A familiar phrase that we sometimes hear is, “Well, these men in the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are old. They’re out of touch.” How would you respond to that?
President M. Russell Ballard: I’ll tell you, we’re not living in a bubble. We probably know as much about what’s going on in the world as any 15 men alive in a group. In fact, on one occasion, a President of the United States visited us, I’ll leave him unnamed, but I heard what he said to the press, when he stepped out on the front stairs to leave the Church office building. “Mr. President, what have you been doing here?” And he said, “I’ve been listening to the 15 most informed men about the world that there is.” And why would he say that? Because we were in counsel with the president of the United States and we were telling them and answering questions about things that are going on every corner of the earth, 15. We’ve got our arms around the world and how do we do that? Because we have mission presidents, we have stake presidents, we have bishops, we have Church organization, the priesthood authority and power and these wonderful women that support them. And so, we know, because our people are everywhere, what’s happening in the world.
And in the case of this President, who I’ll leave unnamed, his comment was, the foot, on the stairs of the Church office when he, to the press, “I’ve been with the 15 most informed men in America,” because we were able to tell him things that the State Department doesn’t know, because they don’t have, we have, what, 60, 70,000 full time missionaries serving in every corner of the earth. We have stakes, we have wards, we have quorums, we have priesthood, we have sisters and they’re living with the people. And so what’s happening in the lives of people, we have an insight to, because of the beautiful doctrine that we all strive to receive in the teachings of God that we try to live. And therefore, I think it’s, it’s a remarkable, remarkable thing, to be a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Sister Sheri Dew: President, could we just invite you now to conclude by sharing with us your testimony?
President M. Russell Ballard: Well, my testimony is very secure and real. It has come, in my life, not as one incident, that it has come as I have served, as I have studied, as I have prayed, as I have moved about the Earth, meeting with our Heavenly Father’s children and when I do, have had that privilege, I’ve always come move away from those experiences, whether it’s in Africa or it’s in Asia or wherever in the world, I’ve always come back home and thought to myself, “How blessed are we to know that a boy went into the grove of trees near his farm home and 1820 and knelt, wanting to know from God how he could have his sins forgiven?” And we witness to the world that in answer to that prayer, the Father, God, or Eternal Father, and His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, appeared to him and spoke to him. In fact, Jesus Christ, said, “Joseph,” called him by name. And that was the opening of the restoration of the fullness of the everlasting gospel in this the last dispensation of time.
And from that experience with Joseph Smith, the Lord took that boy and made a prophet out of him. And through him, was restored the fullness of the gospel. Blessings of the holy priesthood came at the Lord’s direction by John the Baptist for the Aaronic Priesthood and Peter, James, and John, for the Melchizedek Priesthood. When we tell the world that they came and laid their hands on the head of Joseph Smith, we believe that. We witness and testify, that is what happened. There can be those who say, “Well, we don’t believe that those kinds of things can happen.” Well, they have their right to believe what they choose, but we know that the fullness of the priesthood was restored under the hands of Peter, James and John and so that the fullness of the gospel is once again upon the earth. And we have, today, directing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, apostles, ordained apostles, who use the same authority and capacity of the apostles that Jesus Himself set apart in His day.
So, I think our message is the message of love. It’s a message of inclusion. It’s a message of, “come and enjoy the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ which has been restored to the earth to the Prophet Joseph Smith and those who have succeeded him in this sacred calling as apostles and prophets.” This is a great thing we have and one of the wonderful witnesses we have that our message is true is the Book of Mormon. So we say to the world, “Let us give you a copy of the Book of Mormon, another testament that Jesus is the Christ translated by the gift and power of God by Joseph Smith from ancient records, the story of God’s dealings with his family and children, and the Americas and the western hemisphere.” And so we have the Book of Mormon and we have the Bible and they stand side by side, now, as scripture, which is filled with guidance and direction on how to find peace, joy and happiness in one’s life. And it’s wonderful and it’s true.
Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe to this podcast and if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests, to my producer KellieAnn Halvorsen and others who make this podcast possible. Join us every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channel or with other news and updates about the Church on TheChurchNews.com.