President's Pen 8-8-16 (Come Follow Me - We Invite)

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!

 Dear Elders & Sisters, 

We love you and pray for you each day.  I testify that we have a Father in Heaven who knows you personally and loves you for your honest efforts.  Continue to stay accountable to the Lord in your daily activities and each night in your prayers.  You are doing a great work and the future is as bright as our faith.  Remember this work will never be frustrated and that what you do every day matters!  

As we invite our brothers and sisters to come unto Christ I would have you consider two biblical accounts where the Savior himself invited others to follow him…

In Matthew (14:25-31) we read the account of the Savior inviting Peter to walk on the water.  “And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.  And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.  But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid. And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water. And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.  And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”

As we invite our investigators to come unto Christ they may often feel like Peter of old… We are asking people to step out of the boat, leave their comfort zones, and lead a new life.  We are also asking them to leave the boat into turbulent waters and into the storm. They may desire to follow the Savior, but due to their fear, distractions, traditions, or doubts (wind boisterous) they may metaphorically sink and struggle to follow through on the invitations we have extended.  This is where our bold and reassuring invitations can be just like the Savior’s as we stretch forth our hands and lift them.

How could you use this biblical account for those who haven’t prayed, read the Book of Mormon, or come to church?  When we invite you could explain, “Like Peter, the Savior is inviting you to follow him and step out of the boat.  The way won’t be easy, but he is inviting you to come unto Him by praying, reading, coming to church, and keeping the commandments.  Like Peter, you have one of three choices to make… You can stay in the boat and not leave your comfort zone (do nothing), you can leave the boat, but sink due to a lack of faith (not keep your commitments), or you can walk on the water knowing that the Savior will always be there to catch you.  What will be your choice?  We know that as people draw close the Savior the winds blow harder, trials will come, and that some will sink from fear.  We also know that He is always ready and there to support you.  As representatives of Jesus Christ, we know he would have you… (insert commitment here).”  You can then boldly promise blessings and testify of how you walk by faith as well.

Another of my favorite bible stories is when the Savior calls the apostles… “And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers.  And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.  And they straightway left their nets, and followed him. And going on from thence, he saw other two brethren, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in a ship with Zebedee their father, mending their nets; and he called them. And they immediately left the ship and their father, and followed him.” (Matthew 4:18-22)

I love this account as these good fishermen immediately left their nets (comforts, work, doubts, self-interests etc.) and followed the Savior.  When they heard the Savior’s invitation they didn’t hesitate and went forward in faith.  A short time later, however, I believe they realized what they had signed up for.  Following the Sermon on the Mount the apostles (as clarified in 3 Nephi 13:25-34) must have wondered how they were going to keep their commitment to follow the Savior.  They had left their jobs, their comforts, and were now wondering how they would take care of themselves.

The Savior then teaches them, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?  Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?  Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?  And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matthew (6:25-34)

When investigators start progressing, leave their nets, but then question whether they can do it or not, how can you help them using this bible story?  The Lord is teaching all of us that we are not to let worldly concerns cause us to lose trust in our Father in Heaven or become diverted from seeking His kingdom. The Savior teaches these new followers that they needn’t worry (take no thought), that despite the difficulties (temporal challenges, family issues, Sunday jobs etc.), if they seek Him first, all will be taken care of in the end.  The question might be, “If you don’t put God first in your life, what will the end result be and is this what you want?”

In our purpose statement, we declare that we are to INVITE and HELP people come unto Christ. Your invitations must be clear, direct, and bold.  You must know for yourself the reality of the blessings that will come and have complete confidence that as those we INVITE keep their commitments they will be blessed.  We must prepare to HELP people through the difficulties that will surely come.  Using these two scriptural accounts, along with your support, we can help people recognize that they’re not alone.  The Savior has prepared a way for them to progress.  Let’s do all we can to help our brothers and sisters walk this path!

You may also want to consider how these bible stories apply personally to you…  Do you have the faith sufficient to walk on water (see miracles in the Lord’s work)?  If we want greater faith, we need greater obedience (Elder Pearson). Are you seeking the kingdom of God and leaving distractions behind (take ye no thought for the morrow)? This work is true, I love you for your discipleship and desire to be fishers of men.  Love ya!

Mission Update

We had 7 souls enter waters of baptism to receive a remission of their sins this past weekend!  If we are to help others take full advantage of the Savior’s Atonement we must continue to help them increase their faith in the Savior, help them repent, invite them to be baptized, help them receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and point them in the direction of how to joyfully endure to the end.  Our next temple night is Friday, August 19th.  Let’s have as many converts continue their journey and join us that night.  Love ya!

President Hall