Elder Rasband Addresses Repentance during 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents

Contributed By Gerry Avant, Church News editor

  • PROVO, UTAH

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents on June 24.  Photo by Matthew Reier.

Article Highlights

  • One of the most important roles missionaries have is to teach repentance.
  • Use the Book of Mormon to teach repentance.
  • Every small step toward repentance and conversion is worth celebrating.
  • The fruits of baptism will bless lives into the eternities.

“To turn. That’s an important part of what we need to teach our missionaries—how they teach their investigators to turn.” —Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Exactly 20 years after he and his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, attended a seminar for new mission presidents before embarking on their own service together, Elder Ronald A. Rasband spoke at the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents in Provo, Utah, on June 24.

Teach repentance

Elder Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles focused his remarks on “how we can help our missionaries understand the important role they have of teaching repentance.”

Holding up a copy of Preach My Gospel, Elder Rasband said he was going to take the mission leaders back to “the original Preach My Gospel of our dispensation.” He then held up a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants.

Elder Rasband said in the early days of the Restoration, missionaries had various proselyting tools, including the Book of Mormon and “the revelations that came off the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith.”

Having several mission presidents and their wives read various portions of scripture, Elder Rasband focused on sections 14, 15, and 16, in which the Whitmer brothers—John, David, and Peter—were given individual revelations that included the command to “preach repentance.”

Elder Rasband then highlighted “golden nuggets” found in Doctrine and Covenants 18:10–16, in which the Lord declares, “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God. … And how great is his joy in the soul that repenteth! Wherefore, you are called to cry repentance unto this people. And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!”

Elder Rasband said, “What is of great worth to God is of most worth to our missionaries. Really, to all of us. It’s not just limited to our missionaries.”

A part of the definition of repentance is “to turn.” Elder Rasband directed attention to Ezekiel 18:30, in which the Lord commands, “Repent, and turn yourselves from all your transgressions; so iniquity shall not be your ruin.”

“To turn. That’s an important part of what we need to teach our missionaries—how they teach their investigators to turn,” Elder Rasband said.

He directed attention to Helaman 15:7, which speaks of a change of heart; Mosiah 5:2, which tells of the people of King Benjamin’s day having “no more disposition to do evil,” and 3 Nephi 9:20, which describes the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

“Missionaries are and should teach these principles,” Elder Rasband said.

The fruits of the harvest

He showed a photo of himself and his missionary companion, Elder Daniel Wilson, with the Bates family, to whom they taught the gospel as young elders in 1970. Elder Rasband invited Bradley Bates, who at that time was a young child and is currently serving in the Spanish Fork Utah South Stake presidency, to join him on the stand. President Bates told of the ripple effect—some 200 baptisms have taken place because of his mother’s baptism 46 years ago—and of the blessings that continue to come.

Elder Rasband told the new mission presidents and their wives, “We do not have to wait until the eternities to enjoy the love of those that we and our missionaries have the privilege of teaching repentance to. And if the good Lord blesses our missionaries to have it lead to convert baptism, all the better. He’s asked us to do that. Baptism is not a word we have to shy away from; it’s not a word we should avoid.”

He counseled the leaders:

1. “Help your missionaries understand that, like the Whitmer brothers, it is the greatest worth to them to declare repentance unto this, our generation, because it is such great worth unto God.

2. “Teach your missionaries to teach investigators repentance in Book of Mormon terms. Invite your missionaries to teach investigators to turn, to change, to offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and to challenge their investigators to join the Lord’s Church.

3. “Invite the missionaries to rejoice in their progressing investigators’ progress. For example, celebrate with them their coming to church, their living the Word of Wisdom, and their living the law of chastity. It’s a wonderful process of celebration and joy as investigators repent and come unto Christ.

4. “If the fruits of the harvest do lead to convert baptism, recognize and know that it will be a time of rejoicing for everyone involved, knowing that they will have great joy, not only in this life—as you’ve seen demonstrated by this beautiful Bates family today, but in the eternities to come. It is all possible because of the life and the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents on June 24. Photo by Matthew Reier.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents on June 24. Photo by Matthew Reier.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents on June 24. Photo by Matthew Reier.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents on June 24. Photo by Matthew Reier.

Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speaks during the 2016 Seminar for New Mission Presidents on June 24. Photo by Matthew Reier.