President's Pen 1-16-17 (Testify!)

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 that teach repentance and baptize converts and the best missionaries in the world!

Elders & Sisters,

We love ya!  Thank you for who you are and who you’re becoming.  We are blessed to watch you develop and become more and more like the Savior as you acquire His attributes.  As we become like Him, our desires to share His gospel will continue to increase.   Continually reflect on the progress you’re making and strive each and every day to serve Him will all your heart.

“Dear (investigator name here), as a representative of Jesus Christ, we know the Lord would have you come to church this Sunday.  As one of His Disciples, we invite you to come to church with us this week and worship him.  Will you attend church with us this Sunday at 9am and demonstrate the faith and love you have for Him?  As you join us we promise you will…”

How many times have you extended this bold and powerful invitation only to not have the investigator come to church, even when they told you they would?  You may have even used the three important commitment follow up questions after extending the invitation attend… Why is it important to you to come to church? What blessings would you hope for as you attend with us this week? What if anything would stop you from joining us this Sunday?  As best you can tell, they are committed, and yet they still struggle to join us.

Now for a moment I’m going to assume you have done everything you could have in your goals and plans to help them attend and feel comfortable.  You taught the doctrine of the Sabbath day powerfully and clearly.  You’ve taught them how it is a sign and a commitment they can show to honor and worship God.  You’ve taught them how the sacrament can renew them, help them remember the Savior, keep His commandments, and do His work.  You’ve also shared how the sacrament will help them repent and retain a remission of their sins.  You’ve shared with them how church attendance can strengthen, fellowship, and become a place of continual learning for them.  You’ve shared with them how it is a commandment and a day for them to rest from their labors.   You’ve used the scriptures, the pamphlets, and all your resources and I know you’ve taught it well.

In addition to teaching them well, you’ve also done everything you can think of to help them have a great experience.  You’ve used all your resources including the ward council, teachers, and member friends.  You’ve arranged for a church tour, a member friend for them to sit by, and the bishop knows they’re coming so he can meet them.  You know what lessons will be taught in the classes and you know what the message will be for sacrament meeting.  You’ve made sure others are there to greet them and help them feel loved.  You’ve called them, texted them, had others reach out to them, and helped remove every possible obstacle. You’ve explained what to wear, and what we do in the various meetings, you’ve left a note on their door as a reminder.  Because I know you’re missionaries who do everything to plan and help people progress, you’ve done all you can to help them join us and have a great experience.

And with all this, they still didn’t come, and you are heartbroken, devastated, and wondering what more you could have done…

I want you to take a moment to reflect on the promised blessings of coming to church each week.  In your own words and thoughts, what would be the bold and powerful witness you would share of why someone would want to leave the comfort of their home, drop other plans, get dressed up, and make their way to a new and unfamiliar place.  Is your personal witness of church attendance and Sabbath day worship full of conviction and power? As it is stated in Preach My Gospel, “When you testify, you help create an environment for investigators to feel the Holy Ghost confirming your witness of the truth.”  Is this what your investigators feel when you testify of all the reasons and blessings to come to church?

Our personal witness of church attendance, or any other commitment, is a powerful way for investigators to feel the Spirit and prepare them to act.  Our declaration can be simple, but it must be heartfelt and real to us.  In Preach My Gospel it states, “For your testimony to have convincing power, you must be sincere.”  It must also come from truly living the principle yourself if it is to have the desired effect.  When you bear powerful testimony of any of the principles we teach, and in particular a bold testimony of how you personally have been blessed by the commitments you are asking them to accept, it may do more to move them than anything else you can do.  (I suggest you read PMG pages 198-199)

A great example of this comes from the PMG account of Brigham Young prior to his baptism, “If all the talent, tact, wisdom, and refinement of the world had been sent to me with the Book of Mormon, and had declared, in the most exalted of earthly eloquence, the truth of it, undertaking to prove it by learning and worldly wisdom, they would have been to me like smoke which arises only to vanish away. But when I saw a man without eloquence or talents for public speaking, who could only say, ‘I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of the Lord,’ the Holy Ghost proceeding from that individual illuminated my understanding, and a light, glory, and immortality were before me. I was encircled by them, filled with them, and I knew for myself that the testimony of the man was true.

If we want to bear the kind witness that helped Brigham Young in his conversion, consider what Alma taught, “And this is not all. Do ye not suppose that I know of these things myself? Behold, I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety?  Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.” (Alma 5:45-46)  Can you learn to declare an equally powerful witness having followed the pattern of how Alma gained his personal witness?

Elders & Sisters, your personal witness and testimony of gospel principles can turn skeptics into believers.  Your personal testimony can’t be refuted and needs to be shared often.  We teach, we invite, we promise blessings, we follow up, and we TESTIFY using our own personal experience.  When we invite investigators to read, pray, or come to church, we need to make sure we bear a powerful witness of how it has blessed our lives and why it matters.  They need to see and feel why this is important to you and why it can mean everything to them.  As we strive to teach repentance and baptize converts, ponder how your witness and testimony might make the difference for those we teach.  My invitation to you is to review in your heart and mind your personal witness for the invitations we extend.  Are they as strong and personal as they can and need to be?  Take a moment to record your personal witness of each invitation in your journal and then bear it frequently and powerfully.  I know your testimony can bring about great things as we help others come unto Christ.  Love ya!

Mission Update

Temple trips are this week!  We also look forward to having our newest converts with us this Friday at the temple (6-8pm).  Make sure we are teaching all converts the new lessons and helping them with a friend, a responsibility, and continued nurturing…

President Hall