- The first seeds of conversion begin with an awareness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and a desire to know the truth concerning His restored Church. “Let this desire work in you.” A desire to know the truth is like a seed which grows in the fertile ground of faith, patience, diligence, and long-suffering.
- In the conversion process, we experience repentance, which brings about humility and a broken heart and contrite spirit, preparing us for baptism, remission of sins, and receiving the Holy Ghost. Then, over time and through our faithfulness, we overcome trials and tribulations and endure to the end.
- Once in the kingdom of God, as a newly baptized member, we honor the restored priesthood. Honoring the priesthood and being obedient in living the commandments are important elements in the conversion process.
- Our obedience to the commandments leads us to service and sacrifice in accepting callings in the priesthood quorums and the auxiliary organizations.
- We faithfully progress for at least one year after baptism and prepare ourselves to enter the temple of the Lord. In the holy temple we receive our sacred endowments, which teach us how we must live to return into the presence of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
- Then we are sealed for time and all eternity. Our children come into the world protected, born in the eternal covenants we have taken together as husband and wife. If we enter the waters of baptism after our family is grown, our children are sealed to us as though they were born in the covenant.
- All of this time our testimonies continue to grow, and as they do they become a protection for us “that when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds … it shall have no power over you.”
- Knowing the truth and gaining a testimony strengthen us to stay on the straight and narrow path that leads to eternal life. As testimony grows, we become more and more converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we follow Him, we commit ourselves to serve Him by serving others.
Elder Hales points out that we sometime in the mix of our responsiblities, forget the new member who has just entered the Lord's kingdom. We have an obligation to help determine where they are on the path and help them make the necessary next moved along the path of conversion.
- Amid the busyness of our day and concerns of what we are trying to accomplish in our individual lives, and within our families, we sometimes are not aware of the needs of the new member who has just entered the kingdom. As we are committed to be by the side of each new member, could we walk with them along the straight and narrow path that leads to the temple, going with them to the temple so that in our friendship we can have joy and rejoice with them as we move together towards eternal life?
He tells us that we need to reach out to the lost sheep that can't find their way back to the fold.
- Visualize for a moment a shepherd tending his sheep. The shepherd is studying and praying diligently to get close to God. As the shepherd concentrates on his personal relationship with God, he loses track of time and circumstance. He is not aware of his sheep wandering away or being ravaged by evil marauders. The shepherd awakes from his personal pondering to the reality that some of his sheep are missing, and he must go forth and find them, bringing them back. We whose conversion is sufficient must reach out to those who wander. As we do, we will find great joy in gathering the Lord’s sheep.
He speaks of our need to help convert others to the Lord's way.
- Conversion requires consecrating our lives to caring for and serving others who need our help and to sharing our gifts and talents. The Lord didn’t say tend my sheep when it is convenient, watch my sheep when you aren’t busy. He said feed my sheep and my lambs; help them survive this world, keep them close to you. Lead them to safety—the safety of righteous choices that will prepare them for eternal life.
He closes with comments that make the message personal to us. We are all part of this process of conversion. We have to bring out ourselves and then when we can help others come unto Christ.
- Brothers and sisters, do we really understand the teachings of the Savior, “When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren”? Feed my lambs. Feed my sheep. Feeding the lambs could well be missionary labors working with newly baptized members, who must be nurtured and given caring warmth and fellowship in the family of Saints. Feeding the sheep could well refer to the mature members of the Church, some active and some less active, who need to be cared for and brought back to the flock.
- We have learned well the message of one prophet, “Every member [is] a missionary.” Hopefully, we will respond to an equally urgent plea that every member be a friend, a fellowshiper, nurturing and caring for all our brothers and sisters—fully active members, new members, and less-active members alike.
We all need to be helpful in strengthening others in the gospel. I think we sometime don't recognize the power and influence we have in strengthening others. A simple smile, a pat on the back, a warm greeting before church, or a hug in the midst of trials can go a long way to encouraging others to not give up or to keep pressing forward. We first have an obligation to bring ourselves to Christ. But once we have established ourselves on the straight and narrow path, we need to reach others and bring them to the rod of iron that we have a hold of. It is my prayer that we will all get on the right path and look around for someone to bring with us to eternal life.