1.14.2015

Our Stake Conference Talk on Sharing the Gospel

Four weeks ago, we were called in to meet with President Jensen. We were asked to find someone to listen to the missionary discussions in our home and then speak about our experience during stake conference. We attempted to decline President Jensen’s invitation because we would be out of town for Emily’s grandpa’s 100th birthday celebration. But then President Jensen told us that was no problem, we could just make a video.

Emily went straight home and told our kids about the challenge. Steve has served as a Ward Mission Leader in the past, but it had been several years since the missionaries had taught anyone in our home. The kids were excited and eager to participate.

Steve, however, was feeling completely overwhelmed. He talked about calling President Jensen and telling him that we just couldn’t do it. Steve was working long hours to open our new restaurant and didn’t know how he could fit anything else into his schedule.

That day in sacrament meeting, we listened to a talk by Andrew Crookston, a recently returned missionary from our stake. He counseled our ward members not to think with our heads, but to think with our hearts. He added that it would require faith.

Emily already had someone in mind to invite, but Steve was still feeling apprehensive. “Not only do we not have time for this;; we don’t even know him. What makes you think our family is going to be the right ones to invite him to learn about the gospel.” Emily reminded Steve of the talk . . . “Don’t think with our heads, think with our hearts.”

Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught four simple steps to help us in our efforts to find and share the gospel with others.

Step one: Prayerfully set a date by which you will have someone prepared to hear the gospel. President Jensen set this date for us. And we didn’t just need to have someone prepared . . . we needed to have them taught . . . and make a video about it.

Step two: Prayerfully choose a friend or someone you already know, someone with whom you may have already discussed the gospel, or given a Book or Mormon or other Church literature, or taken to church. In our family prayers, we asked for help finding the right person to teach. We felt good about inviting the person Emily originally thought of, even though we don’t know him very well. So we postponed extending the invitation until after a social activity, which had actually already been planned in advance. Six days after President Jensen’s challenge, we asked our
prospective investigator if he would like to come to our home to listen to the missionaries.

And he said no.

Step three: Share your date and your plans with your bishopric, ward mission leader, and the full-time missionaries. The next day was Fast Sunday, and our family fasted that we would be able to find someone to teach. Then Steve talked to the bishopric, our ward mission leader, and the full-time missionaries. We set an appointment to have the missionaries come over on Saturday evening to teach a woman and her two young children. We cleaned the house and prepared dinner, but then Steve realized there was a miscommunication and the missionaries actually wanted him to go with them to her house.

And then she cancelled.

We went out of town for a few days and wondered how we were going to pull something together in time for stake conference.

Elder Ballard teaches: The most important step is step four: With the help of the Spirit, invite your nonmember friend to hear the missionary discussions. This step, extending an invitation to hear the gospel, requires the most faith--faith to do as you are prompted by the Holy Ghost.

He goes on to say, “In talking of faith and saving souls, you should understand that when the Spirit is present, people are not offended when you share your feelings about the gospel. Even though the first man we invited said no, he was not offended and our relationship was not damaged. So then Emily had the courage to invite a third person into our home to listen to the missionaries.

And she declined.

We were trying to have a missionary experience, but it just wasn’t happening. We needed more time! And speaking of time . . . is it right to put a deadline on something like this?

Elder Ballard has taught us, “Because we have so much to do in our busy lives, we need deadlines.” We tend to postpone activities without deadlines, while things with
deadlines seem to get done. Without explicit deadlines, even rewarding responsibilities of eternal importance--like missionary work--can easily get preempted.

The missionaries came to our home last Monday and taught our family, including our seven-year-old son, Adam, who is preparing to be baptized, a wonderful lesson about the Plan of Salvation.

We discussed the Pre-Earth Life, the Creation, the Fall of Adam and Eve, our Life on Earth, and the Atonement. We read the words of Alma, testifying of Christ.

And we actually attempted to make a video. But our eleven-year-old daughter, Rachel, crossed her eyes and made faces at the camera. And Adam, whose nose had been bleeding right before the missionaries arrived, was holding a bloody tissue and touched his nose at least thirty or forty times.

Steve got busy opening a restaurant and Emily doesn’t know how to make videos, so we typed up this talk to share our experience.*

It is not the experience we planned on, but it was still a very rewarding experience that taught us several things.

First of all, don’t put off waiting to invite someone to learn about the gospel for the “perfect time” or the “perfect moment”. Because even if you find that perfect time or moment, they might still say no. Like it says in Preach My Gospel, we cannot control whether or not people accept the gospel message, but we can control what kind of missionaries we are. Second, this was a good reminder that being busy is not an excuse. D&C 15:6 says “And now, behold, I say unto you, that the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me, that you may rest with them in the kingdom of my Father.” Third, deadlines are good! (Although, the next time we set a date, we will probably give ourselves more than four weeks.) And finally, don’t use the wrong measure of success. After the missionaries left, Rachel pointed out, “Maybe we are going to meet someone in the next year or two who needs to hear about the gospel. And if we wouldn’t have had this challenge, we wouldn’t be thinking about missionary work and wouldn’t think to share with them.”

When two LDS missionaries knocked on Emily’s great-grandmother’s door in Switzerland in 1923, Bertha Piranian sent them away because “Mormons were in ill-repute and she did not want to have anything to do with them.” The Elders persisted,

but it was only after their seventh visit that she finally listened to their message. Subsequently, she read the Book of Mormon and received a witness of its truthfulness. She and her family were baptized and later served as mission presidents in the Palestine-Syrian Mission (1933-1937), as mission presidents of the Near-East Mission (1947-1951), as missionaries in Fresno, California working with Armenian Saints in California and the Middle East (1951-1952), and as missionaries in the Swiss-Austrian Mission (1953-1954). All because the Elders went to their home not one, two, three, four, five, six, but seven times.

We can each become successful missionaries by:

Feeling the Spirit testify to people through you. 
Loving people and desiring their salvation. 
Obeying with exactness.
Developing Christlike attributes.

Warning people of the consequences of sin.
Going about doing good and serving people at every opportunity, whether or not they accept our message.
(From
Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service)

We are thankful for President Jensen’s challenge to teach the gospel in our home. We are thankful to the missionaries for the Spirit they brought with them into our home. (And we apologize that they did not get to make their debut on the big screen at stake conference.)

We say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

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