“First and foremost, I come as a witness of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ in all the world,” said Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said while in Hong Kong, explaining that this is a divine responsibility of apostles wherever they fulfill assignments. “I take very seriously the apostolic commission to represent Him: to bear His name, bear His priesthood, and have people know that presence in the Church. . . . I come bearing witness of Him and want to be worthy to bear that apostolic title for Him and from Him.”
Members Are Known and Loved
During interviews between meetings in Hong Kong at the end of May, Elder Holland and Elder David A. Bednar, also of the Quorum of the Twelve, expressed their love for Church members in this part of the world. “We’ve tried to have a message for [members] that they are loved, they are known . . . it wouldn’t matter where they are in the world, we’d want them to know that they are loved and admired and prayed for and appreciated.”
“It’s important to us . . . to see [members of the Church], meet them, know them, know something of their circumstances, know their testimonies, hear their stories, learn what we need to learn about how the work’s done in this part of the world,” Elder Holland said. “We’re grateful for people who have the courage and faith to join the Church and to stay active and to build the Church.”
Need to Live Gospel Joyfully
Elder Bednar spoke with affection of Hong Kong and the surrounding area, saying, “This is one of the great cities of the earth. It’s a very vibrant, happening place.” He contrasted the city’s “allure of the world” with the “simplicity and even the basicness of gospel principles,” and said the contrast heightens the importance of understanding basic gospel doctrines and living the fundamentals.
“We should have evidence in our countenances that we believe in the plan of happiness,” he said, suggesting that in the predominantly non-Christian culture of the area, sharing the gospel will be more effective if we “have the light of the gospel in our eyes.” The restored gospel is a gospel of joy, and that joy should be reflected in everything about us, he said.
He referred to the growth of the Church as a progression from testimony to ongoing conversion, saying that having a testimony means that we know the Church is true, but that “consistently being true to what we know is ongoing conversion.” Using this as a measurement, he explained, “the Church grows as the members are moving from testimony to ongoing, continuing conversion.”
The Same in What Matters Most
Elder Bednar expressed admiration for the faithfulness of the members in Hong Kong and the surrounding areas in spite of the challenge of pressure from family and society in a non-Christian culture. In spite of the cultural differences, he said, he has found that “fundamentally, in terms of what matters most, people are the same. Most people have a yearning to love and worship God. They love their spouses, they love their children, and in that, it is exactly the same everywhere.”
Blessings Come with Love from God
While in Hong Kong, Elder Holland and Elder Bednar also held member devotionals.
“We’re certainly thankful you came and allowed us to be with you,” Elder Holland told participants in Hong Kong, as well as those participating by telecast from various other locations nearby.
Describing the peace that is given to those who believe in Jesus Christ, he said it is “a special, sweet blessing for the children of the world.” This blessing, along with other blessings including resurrection and eternal life, are given to us “not because we deserve it, not because we even have the right to ask for it, but because of the love of God and the charity of the Son of God. He recognizes the longing of our hearts and the tears in our eyes.”
He told listeners that they would be blessed “in part, simply because you felt to come tonight,” and gave an apostolic blessing that they can and will have the righteous desires of their hearts. He explained that this is “given by the love of God, through the power of the holy priesthood, through the grace of the Atonement of Christ,” all of which “lays at your very feet every blessing under heaven.”
Elder Bednar held a question-and-answer session with young single adults in the Hong Kong area, beginning with the statement that neither he nor Sister Bednar would be the teachers. “The Holy Ghost is the teacher,” he said, “and as we act in faith, then collectively we extend a powerful invitation for the Holy Ghost to teach us in our minds and in our hearts.”
Among the questions asked was one regarding sacrifice and consecration. Elder Bednar explained that sacrifice means giving up things, including life, while consecration means that we are “dedicated to and developed for a holy purpose.” In other words, he said, “I will develop myself as best I can in service to God . . . consecrations means I will give me and I will live for the gospel.”
He urged the young single adults not to make lists of characteristics they seek in future companions, but to instead use such lists to develop themselves into worthy companions. “Strive to become what you hope your companion will be like.”
Act as Agents
In response to a question about the temple experience, he suggested that we enter the temple with reverence and regard for Him whose house it is so that we can focus on the spirit that is there. “If you focus first and foremost on the spirit that is there, then you will see more, you will learn more, you will remember more,” he said. Moreover, he continued, we need to act rather than waiting to be acted upon. “Most of us pray . . . study . . . and . . . worship in the temple as objects, not agents,” he said, explaining that as agents we need to take questions into our scripture study, prayer, and temple worship, actively seeking answers, in order for the Holy Ghost to “help us see what we would not ordinarily see.”
Bringing this concept full circle, he returned to his opening statement of the need to act in faith in order for the Holy Ghost to teach us. “In many of the answers I’ve given, I’ve invited you to do something so you can find your own answer. If you will take your questions into the scriptures, if you will take your questions into your prayers, then the Holy Ghost will help you learn the answers.”
During their time in the Asia Area, Elder Holland and Elder Bednar visited several locations in addition to Hong Kong. Read about Elder Holland in India. Additional reports will be published as material becomes available.