President's Pen 10-23-17 (I Was Afraid...)

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!

Dear Elders & Sisters,

I love ya! Thanks for your goodness and daily effort to teach repentance and baptize converts.  The blessing of helping people change their hearts and minds, while preparing them to receive a remission of their sins, is truly an incredible thing.  What you will do today can change eternity for someone and their family.  Trust that the Lord needs you as you go about doing good!

What is one of the first effects we see after Adam and Eve partake of the forbidden fruit? Here’s what we read in Moses 4:13-16, “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they had been naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons.  And they heard the voice of the Lord God, as they were walking in the garden, in the cool of the day; and Adam and his wife went to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. And I, the Lord God, called unto Adam, and said unto him: Where goest thou? And he said: I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid…” 

Prior to the fall, Adam and Eve walked and talked with God.  They learned from Him, loved Him, and wanted to be with Him.  Upon partaking of the fruit, however, they hid themselves from the presence of the Lord, and when they heard His voice, they were afraid!  For the first time, the paralyzing emotion of fear had entered their hearts, and as mortal men and women, we all experience the same. 

Recently, I was speaking with one of our members that had joined a few of our missionaries on teaching appointments.  He mentioned many positive things about his experience as the missionaries taught the truths of the Restoration.  He shared with me that the teaching was good, but that when it came time to boldly testify and invite, fear had overcome their hearts.  He said that the missionaries were more concerned about offending and asking the investigators to do something that might be hard, rather than giving a powerful witness, commitment invitation, and promised blessings.   This could have been any missionary or companionship in the mission; being fearful and less than bold can be the case for any of us at times.  Welcome to the fall…

To counteract the fear that consumed Adam and Eve’s hearts, they were taught that a Savior would be given to bring them back into the Father’s presence.  Faith in the Savior and His Atonement, now blessed Adam and Eve and their posterity, with the ability to overcome doubt, despair, and of course, fear.  They could now have a perfect brightness of hope and press forward knowing that the Savior’s perfect love would indeed cast out all fear.  The Savior’s life, ministry, and Atonement removes the effects of the fall, in this life and the next, as we come to believe, trust, and have faith on His name.

So, let’s go back to the experience the member shared with me…  You now sit face to face with an investigator (member, less active) etc., teaching them about the beautiful truths of the Savior’s restored gospel.  Will there be fear or faith in your heart?  Because I know how good each of you are, I know you will choose faith, boldness, courage, and absolute trust in the Savior and His message!  As you teach your investigator gospel principles, you will look them in the eye and testify that what you are teaching is true and personal to you …  “I know that I have a Father in Heaven who knows me and loves me and He also knows and love you.”  “I have prayed, know for myself, and testify that Joseph Smith did see God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ on that early Spring morning in 1820.” “From my personal experience, I know that as you pray, God will hear your prayers, and that as you do so with real intent, you will feel the Holy Ghost speak to your heart and mind that what we have taught you is true.”.  Your witness is personal because you’ve experienced it, it’s from your heart, with real feeling, and with power. 

As you testify, and because you know your purpose is to invite, you will invite them in the Savior’s name to follow Him.  You know your invitation needs to be clear, specific and direct, so you look directly into their eyes and ask,  “As a representative of Jesus Christ, will you pray and ask God to know if Joseph Smith was a prophet?”, “Will you read the Book of Mormon starting from the introduction and specifically the account of Nephi and his family?”, “Will you show your faith in the Savior by joining us at church this Sunday?”, “Will you accept the Savior’s invitation to follow Him, by being baptized by someone who holds His authority?”, “Will you specifically pray for an opportunity to share the gospel and act when the Lord puts someone in your path?”  Because you have no fear, you won’t hesitate to invite!  You know that your commitment invitation, when acted upon, will draw them closer to the Savior and bless them.   We succeed when we invite!

You’ll then promise blessings that are specific to each of these invitations… “I promise you in the name of the Savior, that as you pray, the Spirit will speak to your heart and mind that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, this is what happened for me.”  “I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ, that as you read the Book of Mormon, and pray with real intent to know if it is true, the Holy Ghost will testify to your heart and mind that it is the word of God, this is how I felt.”  You’ll look them in the eye and testify boldly as you make these specific promises because you trust and have an assurance that if they do their part, the answer will indeed come.  Your bold personal testimony and witness of these promises will be conveyed as the Spirit brings power and strength to your words.  You’ll also assure them that you are going to be there to help them and follow up on their experiences as you connect them to heaven.

Are these the bold testimonies, powerful invitations, and heart felt promised blessings I could expect a member to share with me about you? Consider the last invitation you made to a member, a less active, an investigator, someone you met on the street, or the last door you knocked.  Did fear come into your heart, or did bold discipleship guide your actions and words?  Did you worry that someone might be offended; because they’ve already been baptized, or that they might not want to see you again, or that they’re not quite ready, or did you trust the promptings to invite and promise in the name of the Savior that He wants them to act, change, and come unto Him?  Was your invitation clear, direct, and specific or was it something general that didn’t awaken or pierce their hearts?   Did you testify with your heart or were they just words from your lips?  Did you promise specific blessings or general and uninspiring outcomes?  Faith or fear?  No one else is called to do this but you and your companion.

Elders & Sisters, you wear the name of the Savior, Jesus Christ on your chest.  You have been called, endowed, and set apart with power and authority.  You represent Him as if He himself were in the room, extending the invitation to repent and come unto Him.  The fall brought upon all of us mortal fears and the adversary will take full advantage of this.  The Savior and His merciful Atonement, however, overcome any and all effects of the fall giving you confidence, peace, trust, and no need for fear. 

As the Savior’s representatives, I invite you to testify with boldness, surety, confidence, and power from your own experience.  I invite you to invite in the Savior’s name with more power and greater conviction.  I invite you to promise specific blessings that give the assurance in the gospel truths we teach.  I also invite you to read the talk by Elder Bednar titled, Therefore They Hushed Their Fears.  Follow his counsel on three things you can do today to overcome the fears that accompanied the fall.  Study PMG chapter 11 and ask yourself if your personal witness, commitment invitations, and promised blessings are full of faith, boldness, and love.  I testify that you are the Savior’s representatives and that you have far greater power and authority than you sometimes realize.  “I was afraid…” is now something in the past… You never need fear, you can overcome the effects of the fall though the saving, redeeming, and enabling power of the Savior’s Atonement.  Love ya!

President Hall