- When Elder David A. Bednar and I were missionaries approximately 40 years ago (and I can assure you that we are not the oldest of the returned missionaries sitting in the red chairs), there were 16,000 missionaries. As President Thomas S. Monson reported yesterday, we now have 65,000—more than ever before. There were then 562 stakes. Today there are more than 3,000. At that time, our wards and branches were in 59 countries. Today we have congregations in 189 of the 224 nations and territories of the world. We are few in number, just as Nephi foretold. But at the same time, you and I are eyewitnesses of Daniel’s prophetic words: the “stone … cut … without hands … [is filling] the whole earth.”
Not only in the Lord inspiring President Monson to change the missionary age, he is also inspiring people to accept the gospel in new ways.
- Brothers and sisters, as surely as the Lord has inspired more missionaries to serve, He is also awakening the minds and opening the hearts of more good and honest people to receive His missionaries. You already know them or will know them. They are in your family and live in your neighborhood. They walk past you on the street, sit by you in school, and connect with you online. You too are an important part of this unfolding miracle.
He speaks of the efforts that member missionaries can have and what we should do if we are not called to full-time service.
- If you’re not a full-time missionary with a missionary badge pinned on your coat, now is the time to paint one on your heart—painted, as Paul said, “not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.” And returned missionaries, find your old missionary tag. Don’t wear it, but put it where you can see it. The Lord needs you now more than ever to be an instrument in His hands. All of us have a contribution to make to this miracle. Every righteous member of the Church has thought about how to share the gospel. Some share the gospel naturally, and we can learn a lot from them. Some struggle and wonder how to do better, wishing that guilty feeling we sometimes feel would find somewhere else to go. Our desire to share the gospel takes all of us to our knees, and it should, because we need the Lord’s help.
Elder Andersen's words of encouragement that we should pray about missionary efforts will be rewarded with inspiration of which of our family and friends are ready to hear the gospel.
- I promise you, as you pray to know with whom to speak, names and faces will come into your mind. Words to speak will be given in the very moment you need them. Opportunities will open to you. Faith will overcome doubt, and the Lord will bless you with your very own miracles.
He closes with some things to remember and encourages us:
- A person’s lack of interest need not diminish our bonds of friendship and love.
- Let’s make sharing our faith online more a part of our daily life.
- Please keep the full-time missionaries in your thoughts and prayers. Trust them with your family and friends. The Lord trusts them and has called them to teach and bless those who seek Him.
Wise counsel from a Prophet of God. Each of us can be missionaries in this great effort. Elder Andersen's encouragement that the Spirit will be with us and lead us to those that have been prepared to hear this message of the restoration is inspiring. I am going to take the counsel of Elder Andersen and include in my daily prayers that I will be lead to those the Lord is preparing to accept the gospel.
Study along with me. Tomorrow's blog post is "Power in the Priesthood" by Elder Andersen.