Missionary Work Can Be a Click Away
Contributed By Chelsee Niebergall, Church News and Events
Twelve years ago, William Lewis—or “Grandpa Bill” as he is known—knew little about computers or the Internet, let alone how to create a website. He worked as a technical engineer, and in the last 10 years of his career he taught himself how to build a website because he saw an opportunity to fill a need—providing information that he couldn’t find on the Internet. While building the site he balanced a career, a Church calling, and his family responsibilities.
Thus was born Grandpa Bill’s General Authority Website, a site containing biographies of Latter-day Saint General Authorities that has become one of the top search results for “General Authorities.”
Brother Lewis contends that his experience shows that one doesn’t need to be a computer genius or have a lot of free time to “join the conversation” online as Elder M. Russell Ballard has encouraged1. He says all that’s needed is a little time and dedication.
“I have no formal training in computers or website creation,” Brother Lewis said. “I just picked it up, and if I had a question I looked it up on the Internet.”
In the beginning it took Brother Lewis a lot of time to publish his information. The biographical information he needed was hard to find, and actually creating the site was a big time investment. In today’s world, where information is more widely available and customizable websites, blogs, and other social media sites require no more time than it takes to sign up, Brother Lewis believes anyone can reach out and make a difference.
“We have time to do what we want to do,” he said. “Most of us waste a tremendous portion of our time.”
Find What Works for You
Ken Hedgecock and his wife, Sandy, have found that small contributions—even if they are not focused primarily on sharing the gospel—can make a big difference.
Brother and Sister Hedgecock found their niche in podcasts. Their “Orchestra of Southern Utah Podcasts” are some of the leading classical music podcasts in the world, with over 26 million listeners.
Even though the podcasts are not aimed at teaching gospel principles or sharing Church teachings, Brother and Sister Hedgecock have found that it’s not necessarily what is done but how it is done that makes an impact.
“The influences we’ve had have been through people noticing how well our marriage works just by listening to us interact on the podcasts,” Brother Hedgecock said. He said they have received e-mails from listeners who say they can tell that the Hedgecocks have a good marriage by how they speak to each other on the podcast, and many ask for advice on their own marriages.
“Judging by the responses we get back, our advice has assisted many troubled marriages all over the world,” Brother Hedgecock said.
Making Time Makes a Difference
“I think members of the Church have an obligation to the Church and to themselves to be knowledgeable about Church topics and spread the gospel any way they can,” Brother Lewis said.
Putting information about the General Authorities online is his way of sharing the gospel with others and doing his part in building up the kingdom. However, there are many other ways to do this than building an entire website, he said, such as using Facebook and other social media to share the gospel and spread the message of Christ. Linking to Church websites on your Facebook page can be done with almost no preparation and very little effort, but it still makes a significant contribution to the work, he said.
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, recently joined a growing list of Church leaders who have encouraged members to consider sharing the gospel online as appropriate. “With so many social media resources and a multitude of more or less useful gadgets at our disposal, sharing the good news of the gospel is easier and the effects more far-reaching than ever before.”2
Brother Hedgecock recommended that members who want to contribute using the media should do it in a natural way, using media that is accessible to them.
“We are glad we are doing our small part in helping people because there are so many troubles in the world today,” said Brother Hedgecock. “If we can help just one person turn his or her around life or help one couple put their marriage back together, that is a great feeling.”
“I believe it was President [David O.] McKay (1873–1970) who said that those of us who feel a bit of fear and trepidation in going out and testifying should do it with great strength and vigor,” Brother Lewis said. “Sharing the gospel online is a comfortable way to do that. It just makes me feel good.”
- “Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet,” M. Russell Ballard, Liahona, June 2008.
- “Waiting on the Road to Damascus,” Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Liahona and Ensign, May 2011.