22903_000_015Why are so many members in the California Sacramento Mission excited about the Church’s new pass-along cards?
Michael Cox knows the value of always carrying one of the Church’s new pass-along cards in his pocket. He was walking to his car after shopping at a local outlet store when he noticed an elderly woman having car trouble. As he came closer, she looked at him and pleaded, “I can’t start my car. Can you help?” Although he is not an auto mechanic, Michael quickly assessed the situation and got the engine running.
“Now, this is going to cost you,” he said with a smile. “I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and would like to give you a card.”
Startled, the woman said, “I am a member too! But I haven’t been to church in a long time.”
Michael replied, “Well, we miss you; we love you and want you to come back.” Tears filled her eyes as they both felt the Spirit.
“Would your friend also like a card?” Michael asked, glancing toward another woman in the car. Gladly they both accepted the cards, and Michael, who is a member of the Elk Grove California Stake, said good-bye, trusting the Spirit would prompt his new friends to call the toll-free number and ask for the free video mentioned on the card.
Lorenzo Castillo knows of the blessings that can come from accepting a pass-along card. “I was getting on a train in Sacramento when a young man in a white shirt and tie leaving the train handed me a card. He pointed out the picture of the Savior on the card, but because I cannot speak English, I didn’t understand what he was saying. The card was also in English. But the picture of Jesus Christ interested me, and I wanted to know what this young man had to say about Him. I saw the phone number and dialed it when I got home. Someone answered in English, but soon I was speaking to someone in Spanish. They told me they had a book and a video about Jesus Christ to send me. I was studying with another church at the time but didn’t feel right about it. I gave them my address.” After several months of study and prayer, Lorenzo and his wife, Carmen, and their three children were baptized. They are now members of the Elk Grove stake.
The spirit of friendship and missionary work is growing among members and their neighbors in the California Sacramento Mission because members are carrying and giving away what are known as pass-along cards. Provided by the Church, they have a color picture on one side and usually an offer on the other side for a free gift, such as a video or book.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles recently encouraged all members to “carry a packet of these attractive pass-along cards and give them to persons—even casual acquaintances.” 1 Members in the Sacramento area have taken this counsel to heart.
“Our bishopric talked about them in sacrament meeting and distributed them afterwards,” explains Jeff Larson of the El Dorado stake. “I went home and thought of the people across the street from us. I knocked on their door and said, ‘I thought about you today at church. They were handing out these cards, and there’s a free video about the birth of Christ.’ With big smiles on their faces, they said, ‘Thank you. And thanks for thinking of us.’ When I followed up a couple of weeks later, they had received the video and really enjoyed it, especially their children.”
Why are so many members excited about these cards? “They work,” says Robert J. Grow, president of the California Sacramento Mission, an 11-stake area in north central California. Giving out pass-along cards really works because it’s convenient, it’s easy, and it invites the Spirit!
Their small size makes the cards handy to carry, both for the giver and receiver. The toll-free number and free gift make them especially inviting. Themes that focus on Jesus Christ and strengthening the family make them ideal for special occasions such as Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day.
Spencer Weston of the El Dorado stake says that people who receive the cards “feel more comfortable about calling a toll-free number because it’s more private than a local number or someone coming to the door. For members, the cards allow you to be spontaneous, to take advantage of every opportunity to share the gospel.”
“The Nativity card made it so simple,” says Brian Melville of the El Dorado stake. “I know many people who sent out a pass-along card with their Christmas cards. This was a very natural thing to do.”
Many members who have been somewhat reluctant to approach people about the Church are finding they can feel comfortable and relaxed about giving pass-along cards because the cards are almost universally received in a positive manner.
Brett Millett of the Fair Oaks stake expresses how the pass-along cards have helped him become more involved in missionary work: “I’ve been a missionary ‘wimp’ for 20 years since my full-time mission. I just have not been as free or open with the gospel as I need to be. It’s as though I’m afraid or there’s something in the way. The pass-along cards have helped me to overcome the fear. They fit so comfortably into my desires to share the gospel.”
“When I first saw the cards,” says Jeff Larson, “the picture caught my attention and I thought, ‘This is going to be easy to pass out to people.’ This is the perfect way to be nonconfrontational. The cards and videos on Christ represent something we have in common with many people.”
Gloria Martinez of the Fair Oaks stake says: “I’m usually too shy to approach people about the Church, but using those cards was so easy. Giving them away makes me feel good because, finally, I feel comfortable doing missionary work.”
It Invites the Spirit
Members are also discovering that the successful use of pass-along cards begins with a prayer in the heart and a reliance on the Lord and His Holy Spirit.
“You can just hand the cards out and leave the rest up to people and the Spirit,” says Mark Jansson of the Elk Grove stake.
Brother Millett related the following experience that took place while he was returning from a business trip: “As I sat down on the plane, I felt prompted to talk to the man next to me. He later indicated that he also felt he should sit next to me. Our discussion turned to religion from comments about my mission. He had many questions, and what I remember most was how I felt guided by the Spirit. I bore my testimony to him and invited him to meet with the missionaries. As the plane landed, giving him a pass-along card was the natural way to end our conversation. And I said, ‘If you want more information, this is how you can get it.’”
Phyllis Tisserand of the Lodi stake was motivated by a sense of compassion when she noticed that her neighbor was going through some difficult times. “My heart went out to her,” she says. “I knew she needed the gospel and the love that is found in the Church.”
So she gave her neighbor a pass-along card, knowing that if she would watch the Lamb of God video, it would help her. “The cards are wonderful because you feel the Spirit when you hand one out,” she says. Her neighbor, Sally Quintos, later joined the Church. Sister Quintos says: “I knew I needed guidance, and I was searching for it. I felt something driving me to go ahead and call. And I wanted something about Christ.”
Because of her baptism into the Church, one of Sister Quintos’s relatives thought she was in danger of eternal damnation. “I told him I had something I wanted him to see.” While they were watching the Lamb of God video, she recalls, he didn’t say a word. “He had tears in his eyes when it ended and said, ‘You do believe in Christ.’ I then gave him a pass-along card, and he has sent for his own copy of the video.”
A Change of Heart
Pass-along cards provide members with a new way to fulfill the Lord’s injunction: “And thou must open thy mouth at all times, declaring my gospel with the sound of rejoicing” (D&C 28:16). They are a tool that encourages us to have a missionary attitude and to do something about it, perhaps even for the first time.
“My family’s attitude about missionary work has changed,” says Brother Millett. “President Wood, our stake president, has taught us what his thoughts are at night when he prays. He says, ‘Lord, if you’ll help me know the right moment to open my mouth, I promise I will speak.’ That has inspired and motivated me. I just feel personally responsible. We’ve started to pray that each of us individually will have a missionary experience every day, and it’s had an effect.”
“These cards help build a mentality that we can find people for the missionaries to teach,” says Brian Melville. “We need to look for opportunities. We are responsible for listening to the Spirit to know who needs our contact.”
A pass-along card helped bring Roxanne Schilling closer to the Savior. She picked up one outside a supermarket from some missionaries who were singing carols a few days before Christmas. She remembers how pleasantly surprised she was to be given such an attractive card without any pressure to sign a petition or give money as other groups often do.
She read it on the way home, then left it on the car console. The next day she noticed it again. “Hmmm, a video on the birth of Christ. How appropriate!” she thought. “I had a good feeling about calling,” she says now.
When she came home from work just a few days later, her husband said, “Some ladies came by to deliver a videotape and left their phone number.” The missionaries watched the video with her and some members of her family. “I was impressed with the quality of the production,” she reports. Soon she and other family members were receiving the discussions. A few months later Sister Schilling, with the support of her family, became a member of the Church, residing in the El Dorado stake.
Not all stories about the placement of a pass-along card will necessarily end with someone joining the Church. But how will you know what the ending of your stories about these cards will be, unless you pass them along?
Getting Creative: Pass-along Card Ideas
“I think members can quickly get up to speed on how to use them. Doing a 30-second role play in Relief Society or priesthood meeting gives members ideas on how to give away the cards.”—, El Dorado California Stake
“At work I have a big file cabinet with flowers on it. Next to it I have a sign that says, ‘Free video, take one.’ I have had many people take one of the pass-along cards and say, ‘I’m really glad to see this. I’ve wanted something like this.’”—, Fair Oaks California Stake
“Our ward prepared Easter baskets for members to give to their neighbors. Each basket contained a picture of Christ, a copy of ‘The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,’ a copy of the family proclamation, and a Lamb of God pass-along card. We also put some candy in each of them. Ward members were invited to give them to their neighbors. The demand was so great we had to substitute Easter bags for baskets. We did 70 bags and quickly ran out of them! Each Sunday for several months, ward members told about their experiences, and the ward mission leader followed up. We saw an awakening to the value of the pass-along cards among the members.”—, El Dorado California Stake
“I usually give out the Lamb of God card and the Book of Mormon card together. It helps make the connection that the Book of Mormon is an additional revelation on Christianity.”—, Elk Grove California Stake
“Each building in our stake has a place in the foyer where members can easily find and take some pass-along cards each time they come to Church meetings.”—, El Dorado California Stake