President's Pen 4-23-18 (Needs Awakened)

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!  The Houston Temple is OPEN! There is no greater blessing than having a House of the Lord available for all to receive the full blessings of the Savior’s Atonement and His gospel.  As those who are called to teach repentance and baptize converts, our work is never done until all are dressed in temple white.  Begin with the end in mind!

In our recent zone conference, we emphasized the importance of teaching to the needs and interests of those we find.  As we began the conference we sang, “Have I done any good in the world today? Have I helped anyone in need?” Should this not be our thought as we go out and serve each day? Every son and daughter of God who followed the Savior and His merciful plan is in need of the message we teach and the hope that it brings.  They may not be able to express this need, articulate it, or even realize it exists until we help them awaken to their mortal and fallen state.  For this reason, we are sent to cry repentance and teach baptism for a remission of sins so we can help awaken them to the need they have for the Savior and His Atonement. 

An awakening and the need to connect God can come in a variety of ways… Like the prodigal son, it may come as someone is awakened to their awful state (sin and death).  It may come as someone experiences personal loss or tragedy.  It may come when the world’s answers leaves them empty or without direction.  It may come when you knock on their door or talk to them on the street.  Or it may come as you ask them an inspired question that leads them to a truth they have forgotten.  However it comes, all will be awakened unto God and will be found wanting for the answers only the gospel of Jesus Christ can bring.  Here’s a few truths that should encourage and inspire you to help people be awakened…

  • Everyone that followed the Savior in the pre-earth life knows the Plan of Salvation, they accepted it, they know the church is true, they just can’t remember…  (a missionary who understands this understands the constant need to find and knows all are an invitation away from being awakened)
  • Mortal amnesia is what we all have and it is the only way opposition in all things works…  (a missionary who understands this is patient as they seek out those who are ready to be awakened and doesn’t become discouraged when they are rejected)
  • Everyone has the light of Christ.  All men, women, and children are blessed with this spiritual light.  (a missionary who understands this will find a way to rekindle this light and let it burn brighter as it awakens their soul)
  • Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus is the Christ… (a missionary who understands this knows that the battle has already been won and that all will be awakened unto Christ)
  • Only the power of the Holy Ghost can help us remember the lesson’s we’ve already received… (a missionary who understands this ensures they are worthy vessels for the Spirit to teach, testify, comfort and awaken)
  • A missionaries testimony and the Book of Mormon are the most powerful resources to bring the power of the Holy Ghost… (a missionary who understands this will testify from their heart and use the Book of Mormon to awaken all to the blessing of the Savior and His gospel)

I love the list above as it reminds me that all have already said yes to the Savior’s invitation once, we are blessed to help them remember! As we reviewed in zone conference, there are many references in Preach My Gospel on how we are to teach and awaken our investigators as we seek to understand their needs and interests.   

  • “You have the flexibility to teach the lessons in whatever way best helps people fully prepare for their baptism and confirmation” (PMG, vii).
  • “Adjust the order, length, and pace of the lessons to meet the needs of those you teach” (PMG, 19).
  • Focus on needs. While the doctrines of the gospel apply to everyone, you should adjust your teaching approach to meet the needs of those you teach. As you study doctrine and create lesson plans, identify areas where you can adjust your approach to meet potential needs” (PMG, 20).
  • “[The missionary] may depart from the order of the lessons, giving that which he is inspired to do, according to the interest and needs of the investigator” (PMG, 30).
  • Let the Spirit guide the order in which you present the first three lessons” (PMG 1.1 update to PMG, 30).
  • “Keep in mind that these ideas are suggestions—not requirements—to help you meet the needs of those you teach” (PMG, 41).
  • “You may alter the order of the lessons as you are inspired to adapt to the investigators’ interests and needs. . . . Heavenly Father knows His children, so rely on inspiration to make these decisions as you teach. Pray for the gift of discernment, and pay attention to thoughts that come to your mind or feelings you have about what to teach” (PMG, 177).
  • Good questions will help you understand interests, concerns, or questions that others have. They can enhance your teaching, invite the Spirit, and help your investigators learn” (PMG, 183).
  • When you listen carefully to others, you understand them better. . . . As you listen, you will be able to more effectively adapt your teaching to their needs and interests” (PMG, 185).

As Elder Holland has taught so well… “Missionaries have to be taught how to begin a lesson, how to set the stage for teaching. They need to establish a sincere, warm relationship with their investigators. They need to create an essential environment of love and trust. They need to see these people as children of God and our eternal brothers and sisters, not simply as an object for baptism, much less a mere statistic to be reported to their zone leader. The Spirit will not bear witness of superficiality. It will not bear witness of impure motives. It will not bear witness of phoniness. Sincere concern for their investigators has to begin with the first exchange the missionaries have with them, whether that be on the doorstep, the street corner, the grocery store, or as they arrive to give that first lesson.

Teach the missionaries that second only to the responsibility they have to listen to the Spirit, is the responsibility they have to listen to the investigator. They must have the patience, sincerity and ability to go where the investigator is, spiritually speaking, before expecting the investigator to come where they are, spiritually speaking. We need everyone eventually to get to the Sacred Grove; ultimately, we need them to get to the Garden of Gethsemane and Calvary. But people won’t just leap there simply because the missionaries want them to. The missionaries have to go prayerfully and lovingly out into the highways and byways of these people’s lives, so to speak, seeking to discern their challenges and their concerns If we’ll listen with spiritual ears, just the way we must see with spiritual eyes, the investigators will tell us what lessons they need to hear! Then the elders and sisters can call upon their Preach My Gospel preparation and their scripturally based outlines to “speak the thoughts that [the Lord] shall put into [their] hearts” (D&C 100:5). Cold, memorized lessons or sleep-inducing rote presentations won’t do in the world we face today. We must have enthusiastic, inspired teaching that is tailored to the people who are receiving it.”

Elders & Sisters, we are blessed to help all be awakened to the great need they have to come unto Christ.  Follow the counsel from Elder Holland, seek for the inspiration to discern their needs as you ask questions, listen with empathy, and invite them in the Savior’s name to follow Him.  Each interaction you have is an opportunity for the Holy Ghost to bring to their remembrance a truth they’ve already been taught.  I invite you to ask more inspired questions, to listen, listen, and listen, and then to let the Spirit guide you on what to teach.  Those who are awakened will want more light, more truth, and you will be prepared to teach to their interests and needs.  As representatives of Jesus Christ, you have been set apart and given the authority to awaken the souls of men.  Once awakened, they too will sing, “I need Thee, Oh I need Thee, Every hour I need Thee, Oh bless me now my Savior, I come to thee.” I testify in the Savior’s name that this is true! Love ya!

President Hall