“Light the World” Initiative Has Global Impact
Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer
Church members around the world responded to the call to “Light the World” this holiday season through acts of service—in small and large ways.
As of December 19, videos on mormon.org associated with the campaign have been viewed more than 68.8 million times by more than 3.7 million visitors to the site and have been shared via social media platforms hundreds of thousands of times. The daily advent calendar provides opportunities during the first 25 days of December to share the Spirit of Christ through service and provides ideas for individuals, families, and groups.
Many have provided acts of service privately while others have reported online—both acts of service they performed and others showing how they have been served—by using the hashtag #LightTheWorld.
For many, joining together with other Church members around the world has brought a feeling of unity with Church members—especially those who live in remote parts of the world or areas with smaller congregations.
All who have reported their involvement—no matter how great or small—have mentioned the incredible spirit they have felt as they have focused on the Savior at Christmastime.
“I don’t know how many accepted the invitation to participate in the advent calendar, but I can tell you those that did have had a profound improvement of their worship of the Savior at this time of the year,” said Elder S. Gifford Nielsen, General Authority Seventy and First Counselor in the Pacific Area of the Church. “It has had a profound influence on me and on [my wife,] Wendy. We have concentrated on trying to ‘Light the World’ in our areas of influence. There is no question about our faith having been strengthened as we have done this.”
A billboard in Suva, Fiji.
Elder Nielsen told the Church News it has been “remarkable” and a “very inspiring time” to see how Church members in the Pacific have responded to the initiative.
“He is the self-proclaimed ‘Light of the World’ but yet, in the Sermon on the Mount, He teaches a very profound doctrine,” said Elder Nielsen. “Ye are the light of the world. He is asking us to be like Him—I believe, to share His light to everyone we come in contact with. The Savior was the perfect example. His small acts of service became profound and magnificent events in the lives of those He touched. … We have a chance to share this light with others all the time, just by who we are and whose we are.”
Elder Shayne M. Bowen, General Authority Seventy and Philippines Area President, told the Church News the “Light the World” campaign is having “a very positive effect in the Philippines Area.
“There is not a more Christ-loving people in the world,” Elder Bowen remarked. “The Christmas season begins September 1 in the Philippines and goes through January. Because of this, we had an early kickoff of the campaign here. As the various ways to serve as the Savior did appear each day on our area Facebook page, we see tremendous sharing and participation.”
The “Light the World” van in front of the temple in Manila.
Elder Bowen said they have received positive responses to the van and jeepney with the campaign’s logo—the picture of Mary and the Christ child—on it as it has traveled around the area, and he has heard of many families participating in the daily advent calendar.
“I think as an area, our appreciation for the Savior has increased as we have focused on Him and have tried to emulate His example,” he said. “He is the Light of the World. This truly is a special Christmas season.”
Elder Patrick Kearon, General Authority Seventy and Europe Area President, said the campaign has been a great opportunity for the members and missionaries in the Europe Area to share the message of Christ.
“During this year, more than any recent time, Church members across Europe have found opportunities to serve those in need,” Elder Kearon told the Church News. “As the year draws to an end, ‘Light the World’ has provided a wonderful way to prepare for Christmas. There have been many thousands of kindnesses extended and lives brightened.”
Elder Kearon has heard many accounts of service from members and missionaries living in his area. He told of missionaries in Scotland reporting how one of the men they were teaching changed as he recognized the need to be interested “and even concerned”—for the well-being of someone other than himself.
He told of a companionship serving in Ireland who decided to do the “25 ways in 25 days” calendar and the opportunities that have come as they have prayed to know what to do. He told of young single adults living in London who packed a meal and warm gloves and delivered them to homeless people on cold nights.
All of the acts of service have helped Church members emulate the Savior's example.
Sean Donnelly, the area director of Public Affairs in the Africa Southeast Area, said “the wave of love and service that is going on with this Christmas campaign” is spreading throughout the area.
“Every Church meeting, sacrament talk, devotional I go to, I mean every one, is mentioned by way of testimony,” he said. “Mothers and their children doing amazing things, members having service opportunities and missionary ones, too. We have had a far-reaching multi-pronged approach with leaders and public affairs councils sharing and communicating so that there is no stone unturned.”
Young adults have grouped together to provide service at a home for the elderly. Families worked together to think of ideas of ways to help their neighbors, friends, and members of the community. He has received dozens of accounts of people serving.
“Christmas has taken on a whole new meaning for many; the living Christ has entered their world,” Brother Donnelly said. “I am most impressed with how far this has gone.”
A choir of members at a media event about the campaign in Johannesburg, South Africa.
An electronic billboard on one of the busiest avenues in the world shares the Light the World message in Buenos Aires.