New Missionary Video Released
The newest video in a series of Church-produced missionary-related videos has been shown and is now available to members and missionaries alike to use in introducing friends and neighbors to the gospel.
“On the Way Home is a wonderful 32-minute video showing how a young woman’s concern for her friend led to a mighty change in the hearts and lives of her friend and her friend’s family,” explains Elder L. Aldin Porter of the Presidency of the Seventy, executive director of the Missionary Department.
“We hope members and missionaries will use this latest Church video to help many more people realize that through Jesus Christ our Heavenly Father has provided the plan for families and individuals to find peace and happiness,” he said.
The purpose of each Direct Gospel Message video is to introduce doctrines of the Church that are taught in the first missionary discussion, primarily doctrines relating to Jesus Christ, the purpose of life, and the Restoration.
“After investigators watch these presentations, they are much better prepared to hear the gospel message,” said Elder Porter.
The first Direct Gospel Message video, Our Heavenly Father’s Plan, was actually broadcast on regular television stations in certain geographical areas. During the presentation, short advertisements were shown inviting viewers to call for a free Book of Mormon.
“But what we discovered over time and testing,” explained Elder Porter, “is that it is much more efficient and effective to place those short advertisements in already existing programs.”
But the videos, each one approximately thirty minutes long, were very effective. One survey showed that out of three thousand recently baptized members of the Church, 76 percent had seen one or more of the videos, and 94 percent of those said the videos were “helpful” or “very helpful” in their decision to investigate the Church.
So, while sixty- and ninety-second advertisements produced by the Church continue to run on television, the Missionary Department uses other methods of presenting the Direct Gospel Message videos. Current advertisements invite interested viewers to call in for a copy of the Book of Mormon and a video. “We have discovered many people already have a copy of the Book of Mormon,” Elder Porter explained. “So the video interests those people.”
And in 1990, Direct Gospel Message 5, The Prodigal Son, was shown over the Church satellite system. “We invited stake mission presidencies to organize open house activities in each meetinghouse and encourage members to invite less-active friends and nonmembers to view the video,” says Brother Sherman Crump, managing director of the Missionary Department.
At the open houses, local leaders are encouraged to set up four different self-selected visual teaching stations focusing on Jesus Christ, the purpose of life, eternal families, and the Restoration. At each station, there is more information available, including additional videos, pictures, brochures, etc.
Each of the six Direct Gospel Message videos goes through an extensive production process. After an idea or concept is approved by the Brethren, a script is written. The Missionary Department works with the Church’s Audiovisual Department and Bonneville Communications, a Salt Lake City–based production company.
In addition, each of the six videos has gone through testing, Brother Crump observed. “Our studies show that the largest section of people joining the Church are young adults ages eighteen to thirty-four, both married and unmarried,” he explained. “So we take a scripted video to test groups of this age to see how they respond. They fill out a questionnaire as well as participate in a group discussion.” With that feedback, a final script is written and approved by the Brethren and production begins.
Production time for the videos generally takes a year, although On the Way Home took two years. “We were really looking for something special,” said Brother Crump. “And we think we found it.”
On the Way Home is directed by Academy Award winner Kieth Merrill. The video shows one day in the life of a family. But that day is a special one—it’s the day the family members get baptized. Through flashbacks, viewers see how family members were prepared, through the death of a daughter, for the gospel message. They also see the beginning of significant changes in the family members’ lives.
The six Direct Gospel Message videos produced by the Church are Our Heavenly Father’s Plan, Together Forever, What is Real, Labor of Love, The Prodigal Son, and On the Way Home. They are available for purchase at Church distribution centers.
Another Direct Gospel Message video is already underway, with a tentative October 1993 broadcast date. While the concepts of eternal families, the purpose of life, and the Restoration will be presented in this video, it will focus heavily on the Savior.
Members Dine with President of Mexico
Three years ago when Mexico President Carlos Salinas visited Church members in the Colonia Juarez, Colonia Dublan, and Nuevo Casas Grandes areas, he promised them he’d invite them to dinner at Los Pinos, the Mexican White House.
President Salinas kept that promise on September 22, when approximately 260 members from two stakes traveled hundreds of miles for dinner with the president. The invitation, formally extended through the governor of Chihuahua, included all members ages twelve and older in the Mormon colonies area.
During the meal, a representative of the group thanked the president for the invitation and the goals he has accomplished while president. In return, the president spoke to the members about current world conditions and encouraged them to work hard. “He told us that even though times are tight, Mexico has a bright future,” recalled Frank Hatch, one of the members who attended the meal.
When President Salinas joined the Saints for dinner three years earlier, he was impressed that they prepared and served the meal themselves, observed Brother Hatch.
“All the other dinners he’d ever attended had been catered. He was touched that we’d gone to all that work.”
Second Temple for England Announced
During rededication ceremonies for the London Temple, President Gordon B. Hinckley, First Counselor in the First Presidency, announced the building of a second temple in England.
The Preston Temple will be built in the general area of Preston, Lancashire, a significant site in Church history in the British Isles. It was in 1837 in the River Ribble, located in this area, that Elder Heber C. Kimball of the Quorum of the Twelve baptized the first converts to join the Church in the British Isles.
The new temple will serve members from twenty stakes in northern England, Scotland, and Ireland. Information about construction dates was not announced.
England is now the third country outside of the United States (along with Germany and Canada) to have two temples.
Strength in the South America South Area
The Church shapes the lives of hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saints in South America. To learn more about continuing growth in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay, the Ensign talked with Elder of the Seventy, South America South Area president, and Elders and of the Seventy, counselors in the area presidency.
Question: What do you see as the particular challenges for Church members in your area?
Answer: The challenges are the same as those for members everywhere—to live the gospel and to come unto Christ. But we see in our members special attributes that help them meet their challenges.
Q: In what ways are they especially strong?
A: They have great faith. They hang on every word of the prophet. They revere him and express their love for him continually. They study the scriptures and the Church magazines. Their level of knowledge and their eagerness to learn is impressive; sometimes it seems we can’t work fast enough in transferring to the local leaders the knowledge we receive from our leaders in Salt Lake City. We see over and over in the members this simple, great, strong, firm faith.
New converts go through a process of learning how to apply gospel principles in daily living. Many of them have not been taught that before, but we are impressed as we see them changing their lives day by day.
Q: How many members are there in the South America South Area?
A: We count more than 590,000 now, but the number changes rapidly. In the past six months, we have organized six new stakes, and we anticipate organizing ten more in the next few months. In the four countries, we now have ninety-four stakes and eighteen missions. In Chile and in Uruguay, the proportion of Latter-day Saints among the general population is higher than in the United States.
Q: What makes the missionary work go so well?
A: There are several factors. One is the dedication of the missionaries and their leaders. They are very willing to open their mouths and teach wherever they are. As an example, two of our young missionaries had a goal to teach seven discussions one day, and when they were headed home on their bicycles that night, they had only completed six. Then a young man rode by them on his bicycle. They looked at each other, then pulled up next to him, one on each side, and introduced him to the Church. Then they said, “Now what we have to teach you is so sacred we need to stop.” They stopped, taught him about Joseph Smith, bore witness of the Restoration, and today that young man is preparing to go on a mission.
Like that young man, people in our area are very ready to hear the gospel, very willing to listen to testimony and to act on the witness they feel. Our members are eager to share what they have. The Church is well respected, so it is not difficult to converse with people about it.
It is important that members in other parts of the world see the true picture of the Church in these countries. These are not Third World areas. We are able to use all the missionary tools and approaches used anywhere else. We have had some successes, for example, through public affairs media programs. The Church attracts people from all walks of life. We have many highly educated and professional people among our membership.
Q: What is the effect of this varied membership on Church growth?
A: The voices of Latter-day Saints are being heard and the results of their actions are being felt at every level of society.
In Montevideo, Uruguay, some months ago, the president of the country spoke to a group of 250 LDS seminary and institute students. Luis Alberto Ferrizo, who is one of our regional representatives and also a member of the national congress, told the president, “You often speak of the future of Uruguay. I want you to see the future of Uruguay.” Brother Ferrizo arranged for him to meet all those wonderful young people.
Some Church members have become known as examples of integrity. One of our regional representatives, Jaime Gonzales of Valparaiso, Chile, owes much of his success in the laundry business to his reputation for honesty. He has won major contracts with the military and with private companies because of the way he runs his company. Customers know they will get all of their laundry back, it will be done well, and the charges will be fair.
Latter-day Saints are often sought after as employees because of the standards they live. One young doctor is much in demand with patients who visit the clinic where he works; they know him as “the doctor who doesn’t smoke.”
We have many members and leaders who are widely known for the service they give to their communities, their countries, and their families. One of the counselors in the mission presidency in Paraguay, for example, is a respected military leader in his country. In another area, one stake president and his wife are both medical doctors. They have six children, and they are fine parents, but she stands out additionally to those who know them because she puts her primary focus right now on building her family, not her medical practice.
The Church frequently is spotlighted because of members’ service. During a youth conference in Buenos Aires, the young people had the opportunity to take on a work project. The superintendent of the park where they met was pleasantly surprised after he gave them a big job to do and they finished it in just one day. In Cordoba, Argentina, several LDS stakes were among the first groups to offer assistance after severe flooding. They did it on their own, without any direction from us.
Q: The gospel can change people in a number of spiritual, temporal, or physical ways. What is the greatest effect of change that you see in people’s lives?
A: The most significant change is that the gospel gives them as individuals a new spiritual orientation in everything they do. But we also see it solidifying families. Members follow the counsel of Church leaders to do everything they can to strengthen their families. The temple is a very sacred place to them. They want to get to the temple with their families to unite them for eternity.
Q: Does the growth of the Church pose special challenges for leaders?
A: One of the biggest challenges we have is facilitating members’ involvement in the Church—giving people opportunities to serve so they will experience the blessings of being a member by participating. We are meeting this challenge by emphasizing that every member has a right to have an assignment in the Church, to have a calling. The Doctrine and Covenants makes it clear, in section 84, verses 109–110, that everyone has need to serve in the Church, and the Church has need of every member’s service in order for the organization to be perfect. [D&C 84:109–110]
This is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and we believe in service. We want everyone who can possibly serve to be able to serve. We not only encourage leaders to give people callings, but we are also organizing smaller local branches where necessary, taking the Church to the people in order to provide them with all the blessings of participation. The service of members is the life of the Church, and it is the members’ way to the life Jesus Christ promised.
Saints in “the City without Limits”
Atlanta, Georgia, has come a long way since its beginnings as a southeastern United States railroad terminus town in 1837 and its devastation during the Civil War a quarter century later. The city’s metropolitan area of some three million people continues to grow and spill into the wooded hills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
A major commercial and transportation hub, Atlanta is known as “The Gate City of the South.” The capital city’s steady growth and unbounded opportunities have earned it another nickname, given by the local chamber of commerce: “The City without Limits.”
Mirroring that evolution from rocky beginnings to prosperity is the Church in Atlanta. In 1879 the mission closed for a decade when Elder Joseph Standing died at the hands of a mob north of town. The persecution of Church members eased slowly in later years. A branch was created in 1908, and Elder LeGrand Richards organized Atlanta’s first stake in 1957.
When Atlanta native Evelyn Wooten Youngblood joined the Church in 1939, the Saints in Atlanta numbered about one hundred families, and prejudice in the town had softened considerably, she recalls.
Key to her conversion was the pamphlet “The Plan of Salvation,” by John Morgan, whose preaching in a nearby valley resulted in the conversion of nearly all twenty-six families who lived there. That tract answered questions about the purpose of life that had nagged her for years. “I knew it was positively true!” she says. “I could not hear enough. I was so excited to get baptized, and I have been excited ever since.”
Her husband, Earlton, Sr., was baptized nearly ten years later, the day his eight-year-old son was baptized. The couple are members of the Calhoun Branch, Marietta Georgia East Stake.
Since 1960, Church membership in Atlanta has grown from one stake of 3,200 members to six stakes of 23,000 members in the metro area, and Saints in Atlanta enjoy the blessings of a temple in their midst.
As a sixteen-year-old South Carolinan, Jack F. Joyner served in the Southern States Mission in 1945, a time when that mission had a dozen missionaries and extended to five states in the “Bible Belt.”
Since then he has served as a regional representative twice and is thrilled with Atlanta’s recent Church growth. One factor in that success is that people in the South today are more inclined to be disenchanted with their churches and drawn to the LDS concept of priesthood authority, he says. Brother Joyner is a recorder in the Atlanta Georgia Temple, where his wife, Margaret, has been a service worker since its opening in 1983.
Despite the Church’s improved image in Atlanta, its members are still viewed with mixed emotions, says Paul A. Snow, president of the Marietta Georgia East Stake. “Members are respected, but there are subtle prejudices against the Church that need to be, and are being, peeled away by members who get involved in the community.”
Atlanta’s large business community draws many middle-management personnel who stay a few years before their careers lead them to opportunities elsewhere. Many such members are “exemplary and respected in their circles,” President Snow says. It can be hard on family members when a parent’s career involves a lot of traveling, but “each ward is an instant family of acceptance and friends” that helps fill that void, he adds.
Jeanine Landrum, a single mother of four, echoes that sentiment: “My ward is my second family. There’s no way I could make it without them,” she says, recalling how ward members have helped her numerous times “at any time of day or night.”
In high school she wrote a term paper about the Church even though she feared ridicule. During her research she met an LDS bishop who discussed the gospel with her for three hours and gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon. Not only did her report receive an A grade, but years later, when she found she could not sleep at night until she had read from that book, she and her children joined the Church.
Although Atlanta’s thriving businesses are affected by periodic recessions, Church members remain upbeat and positive. “The gospel enables us to keep an eternal perspective and have faith that the Lord will watch over us,” says President Snow, a great-grandson of Elder Erastus Snow, an Apostle during the early days of the restored church.
Membership in the Church is a comfort to members who are oceans away from their families and homelands. Two years ago Lai Nguien of Vietnam immigrated to America and settled in Atlanta. He learned of the Church when he overheard LDS missionaries teaching the children of a family sharing his apartment.
“When I first came to America, I was bewildered,” he says. “I needed something beyond this life to guide me. Since I’ve been in the Church, there’s been direction in my life. There is no longer any anxiety and fear.”
He serves in the Sunday School presidency of the newly created Brookhaven Branch, a Vietnamese unit of about one hundred members. Four other inner-city branches in Atlanta have also been organized as part of a new missionary district designed to serve members who cannot easily travel to Church units in the suburbs.
“Through the gospel of Jesus and by studying the scriptures, I’ve learned to be happy even though my wife and children are ten thousand miles away,” Brother Nguien says. He works in an airplane factory and looks forward to being reunited with his family.
Now over a century old, the Church in Atlanta is flourishing, providing its members with rich opportunities for unlimited growth and happiness in the gospel.
Forgiving the Abuser
In January 1992, I decided I needed to deal with emotions stemming from abuse at the age of seven. I also decided I needed to forgive my molesters. Forgiveness is an important part of the healing process.
I wanted to begin counseling at LDS Social Services but was afraid. I had been repressing emotions for years, and I knew they’d be intense when I let them surface. I asked my husband to give me a blessing to help me through. I felt his hands on my head long after he had given me the blessing.
The next day I opened my Book of Mormon to 2 Nephi 31. [2 Ne. 31] I had only read a few verses when I felt the strength and support of my husband’s priesthood blessing all over again.
It is a comfort to me to know that the gospel is true and that we have the Lord’s example to follow. The devil would have me not forgive. I have not fully trusted in the Lord as I should. I have not yet forgiven my molesters, and I am still struggling with emotion. But I know that every prayer and every act of service is a step toward trusting in the Lord.
I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father for providing us with scriptures. I learn something new every time I read them.
Name Withheld Salt Lake City
Recognizing the Spirit
I just returned from my mission. While serving as a missionary, I learned how to recognize the Spirit when I felt it. I think that is sometimes overlooked as we teach our children. If feeling and recognizing the Spirit are so important that more than forty thousand missionaries are taught about it in missionary training centers, shouldn’t we be teaching the same thing to our children? They definitely have the same questions as investigators.
I don’t have any children yet, but I know it would have been nice if somebody had explained the Spirit to me when I was a young child and teenager, as the missionaries do to investigators. I can remember several occasions as a youth when I felt the Spirit; I just didn’t recognize it. It’s been a wonderful testimony strengthener for me now to be able to feel it and identify it.
Matt Hammond Ogden, Utah