President's Pen 3-14-16 (Bold Invitations)

As missionaries in the Texas Houston South Mission, we know our purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ, by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. We do this through our constant efforts to find, teach, invite, retain, and activate God’s children; we love it, we live it, and we do it! We begin with the “End in Mind”, and see God’s children as he does. We are Disciples of Jesus Christ and the best missionaries in the world!

Elders & Sisters,

How we love you!  The "Hallelujah" campaign has begun.  Open your mouths, share the good news of the gospel, and invite all to come unto Christ.

The Savior taught in Luke 21:26 that in the latter days and before his second coming that "men’s hearts shall fail them."  There are number of reasons why mankind will have failing hearts, but one of the reasons I believe this will be the case is that their word, their promise, or their commitments are no longer kept.  Think of how often we see truce breakers, promises disregarded, and even covenants broken.  

We live in a time quite opposite of what Nephi observed with Zoram.  Remember the story? Nephi, dressed as Laban, is able to persuade Zoram to follow him to his brethren.  Upon finding out that Nephi was not Laban, Zoram was ready to flee, but Nephi having received strength of the Lord was able to seize upon him.  Nephi then teaches Zoram, helps him understand that he will be free, and gives him his oath that he need not fear.  Upon hearing this, Zoram takes courage and decides he will go with Nephi and his brethren into the wilderness (1 Nephi 5:20-38).  Verse 37 tells you something about Zoram and his word, "Zoram made an oath unto us, our fears did cease concerning him."  Amazingly, Zoram says in so many words, "Don't worry about me, you have my promise, my commitment, my pledge, that I won't return to Jerusalem and alert the Jews."  With that oath, Nephi and his brethren are simply satisfied and they go on their way.  How many in our day would we trust to do the same?

As missionaries you see too many men and women not deliver on their commitments.  A few examples you're all too familiar with…  After a first lesson they commit to have you come back and visit, but they are no longer to be found.  After committing to read, pray, come to church, keep the commandments, and follow through on simple tasks they simply don't do it.  You get fired up about it and so do I!  Why can't men and women keep their promises, do what they say they'll do, and follow through?  I believe it's what the Savior teaches, their hearts are failing them and their oath and their word is no longer important to them.  

So what do we do about this?  We can settle for just accepting that this is the way things are, or we can do as Alma taught his son Shiblon, "Use boldness, not overbalance." (Alma 38:12) Inherent in our purpose and our calling is to invite people to come unto Christ.  If we are to help people do this our invitations need to be bold, specific, direct, and clear.  Anything less than this is, to quote me kids, "weak sauce, lame fries" and doesn’t carry the urgency of our invitation.  May I suggest a few approaches that you should consider adding to your invitations that will help us understand whether or not those we are working with are truth seekers or time wasters (I still love all of them though, they're simply not ready :)

Let's take the most common invitations we make, follow up visit, pray, read, come to church…  When I extend any of these invitations I need to make sure I first have taught them the doctrine.  If they don't understand the doctrine and principles behind the invitation they are not likely to keep them.  If I don't understand the importance and urgency of our message and you invite me for a second visit, I might say yes, not really mean it, and then disappear.  If I don't understand how or why I should pray, how and what I'm supposed to read, why church is important and the need to keep the Sabbath Day holy, I'll sleep in.  This is where your invitation has to do what Nephi's invite meant to Zoram.  He came to understand he would be free, that the Lord had made known to Lehi the destruction of Jerusalem, and that he would have a place with them.  If you invite and your invitation isn't understood, it won't be kept.  

Once they understand, I want you to feel some boldness and confidence behind your invitation (PMG 196).  I might say something like this… "John, the only way you can come to know that what we have taught is true, is if you get on your knees and ask your Heavenly Father in sincere and humble prayer if we have taught the truth.  What we are asking you to do is not a simple request, but one that can change your entire life and the life of your family.  Before you accept this invitation to pray, we want to make sure you understand that if you say you'll do it, we'll expect you to follow through.  We know what we teach is true and we know you can find out the same for yourself if you'll kneel and pray.  Are you up for this type of commitment?  If yes, we invite you John to get on your knees and pray tonight to know if Joseph Smith is a prophet and if the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  Will you do this? We know you are a man of your word and that we can count on you to do what you have committed to do.  We promise you the blessing of knowing that God will answer your prayer and that the Holy Ghost will confirm the truth of what we have taught.  I know that God answers my prayers and hears me, he will hear you.  We will follow up with you tomorrow morning at xyx time on how your prayer went and we know that you'll keep your commitment."

How many of your invitations look like this?  Let's try another one…  "Maria, we're grateful that we were able to teach you the Restoration of the gospel today.  We would like to have a follow up lesson with you on xyz date and time and look forward to being with you again.  Your time and our time is so valuable that before we extend the commitment for the next lesson we need to make sure you want to continue hearing our important message.  If you do, we'll expect you to be here at xyz date and time so we can continue sharing what we know God needs you to hear.  We know God loves you and your family and that what we have to share will help you feel of His love more than you can ever possibly imagine.  We know Maria that you are a person who keeps her commitments and promises and we are excited to continue sharing our message with you.  Will you then be here xyz date and time for our next lesson?  We know you will receive answers to prayers and come to know that God desires you to live with Him again; our message makes this possible. We know our message is true; it has blessed me and my family.  We will text you tomorrow as a reminder, and if for any reason something happens, will you be kind enough to call and let us know?  We're grateful to meet people like you that are commitment keepers, there are too few in the world today."

Do you get my point?  I'm not trying to be pushy, but this is sacred time and we could be spending it with someone who is a truth seeker!  One more example, sure you say, I love reading your long emails President!  "Jose, we have given you a Book of Mormon, another witness of Jesus Christ and we testify that it will help you come to know that what we have taught you today is true.  We give this gift to you because you seem to be someone that won't simply put it on the shelf and let it sit.  We have shared with you that by reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning you will come to know Jesus is the Christ, that Joseph Smith is God's chosen prophet, and that this is God's Church here on the earth today.  We now invite you to read from the beginning and to read to this page tonight.  Will you do this for us?  We see that you are someone that once they make a promise, they are willing to keep it.  This is so important to us that we will follow up with you tomorrow at xzy time to see how your reading went.  We promise that the power of the Holy Ghost will testify to your heart and mind that this book is true.  I know the BOM is true as I did the very thing we've asked you to do tonight.  It is so good to know that there are good people like you, Jose, that keep commitments and do what they say they will."

Now here's what I want you to do.  I want you to do the exercise found on page 197 of PMG and write out an invitation for them to come to church.  Will you do it? I want to see it in your return and report email next week.  I testify that when you do you'll begin to invite with power and authority and people will come to know that you mean business, even better, the Lord's business, the best kind!  Our invitations have to be like Nephi's, where we seize (with love of course) our investigators, help them understand what we're offering, promise them blessings (Nephi's oath to Zoram), and expect them to keep their commitments.  Above all, if you're going to do this you HAVE TO FOLLOW UP.  Be specific of when you'll follow up and then do it.  Buy the ticket to the concert and then please go! (PMG pg. 200)

May I also ask you to consider if you're like Zoram…  Firm in your commitment to the Lord to serve with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.  The letter you signed to President Thomas S. Monson was your oath that you would be obedient, work hard, and do your best.  In THSM we don't have missionaries that have failing hearts, we keep our commitments, the commandments, and our covenants.  We love you!

Mission Update

We have now have had 73 come unto Christ to receive a remission of their sins through baptism this year; we're 15% of our annual goal.  Continue with your vision and efforts to baptize.  Set a goal, make a plan and work towards helping our brothers and sisters qualify to live with God again.  Keep up the great work, we love you!

Abrazos,

President Hall