President's Pen 7-18-16 (Faith in Finding)

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!

Beloved Elders & Sisters,

We love you!  What can I say more? 

As I pondered what to write to you this week, the subject of finding came to my mind.  This can be a source of frustration for many of you, but it need not be as we seek out those the Lord has prepared.  The Lord has promised he will open the hearts of the people to receive you (D&C 31:7), and that he will “gather mine elect from the four quarters of the earth, even as many as will believe in me, and hearken unto my voice.” (D&C 33:6) In finding his elect he also counsels us to be “patient in our afflictions” (D&C 31:9) and to also “be faithful, praying always, having your lamps trimmed and burning, and oil with you…” (D&C 33:17).  The Savior, knowing we would need a boost and lifted spirits at times states, “Be faithful unto the end, and lo, I am with you. These words are not of man nor of men, but of me, even Jesus Christ, your Redeemer, by the will of the Father.” (D&C 31:13)

Finding is an act of faith, and in particular, it is an act of faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ.  It is only through Him can we hope to be successful in this work, it will not be frustrated.   Elders & Sisters, you have the assurance from the Savior himself that He is with you.  You are told that if you thrust in your sickle (work hard), bear with patience your afflictions, pray always, ready yourself, and open your mouths, the elect will be found.  If you will begin each day knowing that He desires you to find those He has prepared, and then go to work, you will find them. 

I love the words of Ammon (Alma 26:26-30) as he recounts his missionary experience.  As you read his words, apply them to you…, “…but (we came) with the intent that perhaps we might save some few of their souls. Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites (your area), and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success.  And now behold, we have come, and been forth amongst them; and we have been patient in our sufferings, and we have suffered every privation; yea, we have traveled from house to house, relying upon the mercies of the world—not upon the mercies of the world alone but upon the mercies of God. And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.  And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul…”

I think every missionary who has walked this planet or who will ever walk this planet will be able to liken these scriptures to themselves. We come to try and save a few souls.  Although minor, we do suffer, we do have times of being depressed, we do have days when we want to turn back.  This is part of the refining experience and be at peace knowing you’re in good company when you feel this way.  The blessing to all of us though, is that like Ammon and his brethren, when we rely upon the mercies of God, the Lord will comfort us, and success will come. 

I love the tenacity we see from Ammon and the Son’s of Mosiah when it came to their finding… “we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them.”  If we liken this to us, they found everywhere, anywhere, and kept pushing forward, despite their afflictions.  Their faith was in the Lord, and through their we’ll go anywhere, do anything efforts and attitude, they found the elect.

I see Ammon and his fellow missionaries as great problem solvers.  They came to find, teach repentance, and baptize converts; we are no different.  They used service, working with members (Abish), the less active (Amulek), recent converts (King Lamoni), street contacting (see above) and every effort in their desire to bring a few souls unto Christ.  I think at times we see them as different from us, but are they?  Can our faith to find be just as powerful?

Great missionaries of old and today recognize that they can’t just do the same thing day after day and expect different outcomes.  Even Alma entered the city of Ammonihah through another way.  The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, we are far more creative and resourceful than this.  Case in point… Working with active members.  Unfortunately, many are stuck in the habit of going for a dinner appointment, giving a brief spiritual thought, asking for a referral, and then are disappointed when nothing comes from it. 

What if you truly set a goal and planned to teach members outside of dinner?  You might schedule an appointment, teach them the Doctrine of Christ in lesson three and then ask the following…”If you could share the gospel with anyone you know or perhaps someone you’ve just seen, who would it be?”  This could be anyone from a friend, family member, work colleague, or even someone they’ve never met, but they desire to share the gospel message with them.  You then might follow up with, “What principle or doctrine of the gospel would you want to share with them?”  You then might ask the reasons why and then spend a brief moment with them role-playing how they could introduce the gospel in a way that is most comfortable to them.  It could be a Book of Mormon, but it might be the Articles of Faith, or the Family Proclamation, a Church website, or any other topic.  In PMG on Page 161 it states, “Help them (members) feel the Spirit and power of our message. Strengthening their understanding of the doctrine of Christ will do more to increase their trust in you and to build their excitement to do missionary work than anything else you can do.”  I trust in this promise, do you?  Could you work with the Bishop to schedule an appointment to teach every member of the ward to help you find? Would this lead you to a level 3 ward?

The spirit of my message today is to have you think differently about finding.  First, it’s about faith in Jesus Christ, is yours sufficient, even when the trial of your faith comes.  Second, it’s about being creative, you need to turn over every rock, don’t get stuck in just one way to find.  Third, continue to focus on the members and teach them doctrine, invite them, follow up, and remove fluff from your interactions.  Fourth, finding is not an activity, it is an attitude and a desire of your heart.  If you look at it as a box to check, you miss the purpose of your call.  It’s not about the number of contacts in a day, or referrals received, it’s about going all in, regardless of how many people you talk to.  Fifth, be tenacious by setting meaningful goals, specific plans, and then go after them until you run out of time in the day.  You must have a plan to find every day, it is the only way to work.   Sixth, expect to be refined in this process, it won’t come easy, never has, never will, but never give up. 

I love you for your efforts, for your righteous desires, and for your willingness to open your mouth and declare repentance to this people.  I have faith in the Savior and His work.  He wants us to succeed as He paid the ultimate price to bring us all home.  On those days of discouragement, look heavenward, be grateful to wear His name, and then resolve to do all you can to invite with power and authority all you see. 

Mission Update

Another great temple night with our recent converts (pics attached).  Our next night is on August 19th, start planning today to have a member friend, recent convert, and you and your companion with us.  This work is true and let’s continue to “Begin with the End in Mind”.  Love ya!

President Hall