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Insight Archive

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Missionary Work

On a nice sunny afternoon, my companion and I wanted to meet new friends who we could teach. We thought the park would be fantastic, because there would be people walking. To be honest, we go there quite a bit. We have met quite a variety of people. On this one day, my companion stopped a man, and his girlfriend. This man's first reply was, "you already tried talking to me when I was walking my dog, and he growled at you." My companion asked in response, "Well, can we talk to you while your dog isn't here trying to attack us?" His response was an elongated, "sure" as he rolled his eyes, shrugged his shoulders, repositioned his stance, and condescendingly raising his chin as he turned his head to make eye contact with my companion. By these body movements, it was evident he was not interested. As a result, my companion said, "you don't seem to happy to be talking to us." To this, he said, "I'm not." I then, with all the enthusiasm I could muster, reply, "you don't like to talk about Jesus?" "No—" He said. "Alright," and I left it at that with my body movements saying, "than go ahead, we don't want to make you unhappy by talking about someone you don't love." He took one step and my companion, being more polite than I, asked with an extended hand, "May we get your name, at least?" He stopped, rolled his eyes, and his head as he said nothing before he made eye contact with my companion. "Whyyy?" He asked. At this point his girlfriend punched his arm and said, "Wow, you are being so rude. Just tell them your name." He, grudgingly, took my companion's hand and said (for all sakes and purposes) "I'm Justin." His girlfriend, with much for vigor and enthusiasm, introduced herself as "Samantha." Then it was my turn to shake hands. I smiled at Justin, who then smiled back with a smile that would frighten any dentist. Then I shook Sam's hand, who smiled and was much more polite. At this point, Justin may have been thinking, "these people are annoying. They are persistent, and I don't want anything to do with them." Just like Elder David A. Bednar, "My message is directed specifically to individuals who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints." Just as he did I, too "will address a fundamental question many of you may have: "Why are Latter-day Saints so eager to tell me about what they believe and to invite me to learn about their church?""


Elder Bednar declared, "The Church of Jesus Christ always has been and always will be a missionary church. The individual members of the Savior's Church have accepted the solemn obligation to assist in fulfilling the divine commission given by the Lord to His Apostles... "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen" (Matthew 28: 19–20). [We] take seriously this responsibility to teach all people in all nations about the Lord Jesus Christ and His restored gospel... When we invite you to attend church with us or to learn [more]... we are not trying to sell you a product. As members of the Church, we do not receive prizes or bonus points in a heavenly contest," as some mistakingly think. Elder Bednar continued, "We are not seeking simply to increase the numerical size of the Church. And most importantly, we are not attempting to coerce you to believe as we do. We are inviting you to hear the restored truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ so you can study, ponder, pray, and come to know for yourself if the things we are sharing with you are true." We simply desire you to get closer to God.

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations...
"Our eagerness to declare this message is not merely the result of a sense of spiritual duty." Elder Bednar observed, "Rather, our desire to share the restored gospel of Jesus Christ with you is a reflection of how important these truths are to us." The blessings I have been able to see in my life are priceless. I have been able to feel eternal peace in my life. Elder Bednar said, "I believe I can best describe why we are so forthright in seeking to explain our beliefs to you through an experience my wife and I had many years ago with two of our sons.

"One evening Susan and I stood near a window in our home and watched two of our little boys playing outside. During the course of their adventures, the younger of the two boys was injured slightly in a small accident. We quickly recognized that he was not seriously hurt, and we decided not to provide immediate assistance. We wanted to observe and see if any of our family discussions about brotherly kindness had sunk in. What happened next was both interesting and instructive. The older brother consoled and carefully helped the younger brother back into the house. Susan and I had positioned ourselves near the kitchen so we could see what next took place, and we were prepared to intervene immediately if additional bodily harm seemed likely or a serious accident was imminent. The older brother dragged a chair to the kitchen sink. He climbed up on the chair, assisted his brother onto the chair, turned on the water, and proceeded to pour a large quantity of dishwashing soap onto the scratched arm of his little brother. He did his best to gently wash away the dirt. The reaction of the little brother to this procedure can only be described accurately using language from the holy scriptures: "And they shall have cause to howl, and weep, and wail, and gnash their teeth" (Mosiah 16:2). And did that little boy howl! After the scrubbing was finished, the arm was carefully dried with a towel. Eventually the screaming stopped. The older brother next climbed up onto the kitchen counter, opened a cabinet, and found a new tube of medicated ointment. Though the scratches on his little brother were not large or extensive, the older brother applied almost all of the ointment in the tube to the entire injured arm. The screaming did not resume, as the little brother clearly liked the soothing effect of the ointment much more than he appreciated the cleansing effect of the dishwashing soap. The older brother returned again to the cabinet in which he had found the ointment and located a new box of sterile bandages. He then unwrapped and put bandages all up and down his brother's arm--from the wrist to the elbow. With the emergency resolved, and with soap bubbles, ointment, and wrappers all over the kitchen, the two little boys hopped down from the chair with bright smiles and happy faces. What happened next is most important. The injured brother gathered up the remaining bandages and the almost empty tube of ointment, and he went back outside. He quickly sought out his friends and began to put ointment and bandages on their arms. Susan and I both were struck by the sincerity, enthusiasm, and rapidity of his response.

"Why did that little boy do what he did? Please note that he immediately and intuitively wanted to give to his friends the very thing that had helped him when he was hurt. That little boy did not have to be urged, challenged, prompted, or goaded to act. His desire to share was the natural consequence of a most helpful and beneficial personal experience. Many of us as adults behave in precisely the same way when we find a treatment or medication that alleviates pain with which we have long suffered, or we receive counsel that enables us to face challenges with courage and perplexities with patience. Sharing with other people things that are most meaningful to us or have helped us is not unusual at all. This same pattern is especially evident in matters of great spiritual importance and consequence... we as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have felt the anguish associated with spiritual uncertainty and sin. We also have experienced the cleansing, the peace of conscience, the spiritual healing and renewal, and the guidance that are obtained only by learning and living the principles of the Savior's gospel."

As Elder Bednar put it, "We believe the same Church founded by the Savior anciently has been reestablished on the earth by Him in the latter days. The doctrine, principles, priesthood authority, ordinances, and covenants of His gospel are found today in[, this,] [Christ's] Church." Yet, "Some of you may respond," as I have heard so frequently on my mission, "But I already believe in Jesus and follow His teachings," or "I am not sure if God really exists." Our invitations to you are not an attempt to diminish your religious tradition or life experience. Bring all that you know is true, good, and praiseworthy--and test our message. Just as Jesus beckoned two of His disciples to "come and see" (John 1: 39), so we urge you to come and see if the restored gospel of Jesus Christ enlarges and enriches that which you already believe to be true."


While I have been on my mission, I have seen this to be true. I have had the wonderful opportunity to see people prior to their meeting with the missionaries, being engulfed in the arms of misery, and anger. Then making a complete 180 to their past selves. I have talked to a man and his family about the attitude in his life, and they said he was very angry. Since I have known them, I cannot imagine him being anything but happy, joyful, and optimistic. They said he was anti-social, but I cannot see that. What we do helps bring out the good in everybody.  I promise, that as you seek for that which is good, the Source of all Good will lead you to it.



See Elder David A. Bednar's talk "Come and See"



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