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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sacrament Talk: "Was It Worth It?"

I have had the pleasure of getting to meet many of you. I am still try to learn your names, so don't get too upset if I ask again, or call you the wrong name just correct me when it happens. I will learn better as I get to know you better. I just want some of you to know me a little more. I was told when I entered the ward the most important thing was that I am Shoshone. The Bishop said that "you had my back." However, I believe the most important thing about me is the fact I was converted just over three years ago. I was baptized Feb 19, 2011; and confirmed the 20th, two years later, on the exact date of confirmation, I entered the MTC. Some of you know my story, you have either read it, or heard it from me. I have good news for you, you get to hear it again. I did not have a "normal" childhood, but I am blessed to have had the one I had. I was introduced to the church at the age of three years old, in a foster family. At the age of six, I was ripped from their custody after they desired to adopt me and my brother. We were placed with a single mother, who had two biological daughters and my younger sister. She later adopted us. This new family did not have, nor appreciate the beliefs of my previous family. We were cut off from our former religion. Time passed, conflict and drama escalated. At the age of fourteen, she lost custody of me and my siblings. Therefore, I was put back into the foster care system until I was eighteen. During these teenage years, there were many good influences in my life. Members of the church, good friends and teachers, helped me stay in the right. Missionaries knocked on my door when I was fifteen, but I was not interested. I didn't tell them, however. I didn't want to hurt their feelings. They taught me off and on for three years before I had committed for baptism. Was it worth all that work: with the combination of all of the people, the natural behavior of my friends, and the three years of work from the missionaries. Was it worth it?

I was asked to speak on a talk given be Elder David Evans of the seventy titled this very question, "Was It Worth It?"

In that talk, he shared an experience of a man he knew named Dave Orchard. He "grew up in Salt Lake City, where most of his friends were members of the Church. They were a great influence on him. In addition, Church leaders in his neighborhood constantly invited him to activities[, and so did his friends.] Even though he didn't join the Church... his growing-up years were blessed by the influence of good LDS friends and Church-sponsored activities. After he entered college, he moved away from his home, and most of his friends left on missions. He missed their influence in his life. One of Dave's high school friends was still home. This friend was meeting every week with his bishop in an effort to put his life in order and be able to serve as a missionary. He and Dave became roommates, and as would be both natural and normal, they talked about why he wasn't serving as a missionary and why he was meeting frequently with the bishop. The friend expressed his gratitude and respect for his bishop and the opportunity to repent and serve. He then asked Dave whether [or not] he would like to come to the next interview. What an invitation! But in the context of their friendship and circumstances, it was both natural and normal. Dave agreed and was soon meeting with the bishop himself. This led to Dave's decision to meet with the missionaries. He received a testimony... and a date for his baptism was set. Dave was baptized by his bishop, and a year later, Dave Orchard and Katherine Evans were married in the temple. They have five beautiful children."

Dave Orchard, after sharing his experience at a stake conference asked the rhetorical question, "So, was it worth it? Was all the effort of friends and youth leaders and my bishop, over all the years, worth the effort to have just one boy be baptized?" Pointing to his family, he said, "Well, at least for my wife and our five children, the answer is yes."

"As Dave's children grown, they have all embraced the gospel." At the time Elder Evans shared story, "One daughter and two sons have served as missionaries, and one received his call to serve in the Alpine German-Speaking Mission. The youngest is in high school, faithful in every way." So, was it worth it?"

Elder Evans noted, "One young man who was working to put his own life in order helped another young man who was seeking the truth." Which means we don't even need to be one hundred percent worthy to share the gospel, just that we desire to be worthy, and working on it. In one of my previous areas, I was privileged to participate in teaching someone, who was later baptized. After I left the area, this individual backslid, and relapsed on an addiction thought to be long since dead. Despite this fact, this individual proceeded to share the restored gospel with a friend, who was later baptized. To use this person's words, "he had a stronger testimony than me."

"The work of naturally and normally sharing the gospel with our family, and those we care about and love will be the work and joy of our lives. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, every one of us has the blessing and responsibility of sharing the gospel." Nephi taught "We labor diligently... to persuade our brethren... to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled with God..."

"Some of those, our brethren, who need the gospel in their lives are not yet members of the Church. Some of our brethren were once among us but need to feel again the joy they felt when they embraced the gospel at an earlier period of their lives. The Lord loves both the person who has never had the gospel and the person who is returning. To Him and to us, it doesn't matter. It is all one work. It is the worth of souls, whatever their condition, that is great to our Heavenly Father, His Son, and to us. The work of our Heavenly Father and His Son is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life" of all His children, regardless of their current circumstances. Our blessing is to help in this great work."

We can do so by following what He teaches. Many people leave the church because they have resentful feelings toward some, or someone who attends. Christ taught the Nephites, "if ye shall come unto me, or shall desire to come unto me, and rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee, go thy way unto thy brother, and first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come unto me with full purpose of heart, and I will receive you." (3 Nephi 12: 23-24) Which is similar to what he taught on the Sermon on the Mount, "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." (Matthew 5: 23-24) If there is resentment existing between you and another, fix it ASAP.

This teaching was exemplified in the other experience Elder Evans shared. Sister Eileen Waite heard Dave Orchard tell of his conversion experience, "all she could think of was her own family and particularly her sister, Michelle, who had long been away from the Church. Michelle was divorced and trying to raise four children. Eileen felt impressed to send her a copy of Elder M. Russell Ballard's book 'Our Search for Happiness,' together with her testimony... The very next week a friend told Eileen that she too had felt that she should contact Michelle. This friend also wrote Michelle a note, sharing her testimony and expressing her love. Time passed. Michelle called Eileen and thanked her for the book. [Michelle] said she was beginning to recognize the spiritual void in her life. Eileen told her that she knew that the peace she was seeking could be found in the gospel. She told her that she loved her and wanted her to be happy. Michelle began to make changes in her life. Soon she met a wonderful man who was active in the Church. They married and a year later were sealed. Recently her 24-year-old son was baptized." Was it worth it?

"Whenever the gospel is shared, it is never "just one boy" [or any form of "just one"]. Whenever conversion happens or someone returns to the Lord, it is a family [and future generations] that [are] saved. "The Lord has told us, "I will open the hearts of the people, and they will receive you." (D&C 31: 7)

"As you have listened you have thought of someone to whom you should reach out and either invite to come back or share with him or her your feelings about the [Restored] gospel of Jesus Christ. My invitation is to act, without delay, on that prompting. Talk to your friend or family member. Do it in a natural and normal way. Let them know of your love for them and for the Lord. Missionaries can help. My counsel is the same that President Monson has given so many times: 'Never delay a prompting.' As you act on the prompting and do it with love, watch as our Heavenly Father uses your willingness to act to bring about a miracle in your life and in the life of the person you care about." All you need to do is to open your mouth, and what needs to be said will be given to you the the very moment you need it. (D&C 24: 6) As a representative of Christ, I promise you will not regret acting on a spiritual prompting. I, also, promise that if you do get a prompting and fail to act on it, you will regret it. Ask yourself, after every spiritual prompting whether or not you acted on it, "was it worth it?"

Was it worth sharing the gospel with my friend? Was it worth not helping that person in need? Was it worth doing my home/visiting teaching? Always ask, "Was it worth it?"

Elder Evans further said, "To all others who do not yet know that this Church is true, I invite you to prayerfully consider whether the Church is true[, and whether or not you desire to be an eternal family.] Allow your family, friends, and missionaries to help. When you know that it is true, and it is, come join with us by taking the same steps in your life." I promise you will be able to look back and exclaim, "IT WAS WORTH IT!" I so testify, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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